Cor Anglais

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The cor anglais, sometimes referred to as the english horn, is a woodwind instrument of the oboe family. This double-reed aerophone is in the tenor range of the oboe family, a fifth lower than a standard concert oboe and can be one and a half times its length. The cor anglais is pitched in F and has a characteristic bulbous bell.
History of the Cor Anglais
The cor anglais has a history dating back centuries and though the name suggests it has an English or possibly French origin, neither is in fact true. The cor anglais’ most likely instrument ancestor is the 18th century oboe da caccia which was a double-reed instrument pitched a fifth lower than an oboe (the same as a cor anglais). This early precursor has a brass bell and was favoured and popularised by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s name was perhaps inspired by the corno da caccia which was a brass instrument developed from a hunting horn in the early 18th century. The corno da caccia eventually developed into the french horn and the oboe da caccia became the cor anglais. After the baroque period, the cor anglais was favoured over the oboe da caccia for its much more mellow and soothing tone. Beethoven wrote classical music pieces for the cor anglais (referred to as the english horn) in 1795 which kickstarted more classical compositions written for the cor anglais in the 19th century. The cor anglais survived changes in instrument designs during the 1800s and 1900s but is still less commonly used than the oboe today.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£2,000 - £7,000

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How to Play

A double-reed woodwind instrument, also known as the English horn, played using a similar technique to the oboe.

In Popular Music

Cor anglais sounds similar to the oboe and may be uncredited on many popular progressive rock recordings by Jethro Tull and King Crimson. Tony Freer is credited with playing the cor anglais in popular music recordings by British prog rock band The Enid

Famous Players

Albrecht Mayer, Evelyn Rothwell, Marcel Lagorce

Close Relations

Oboe, Bassoon
Video Credit: Philharmonia Orchestra
Understanding the Cor Anglais
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18th century

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