01. June 2007 · Comments Off on MQOD · Categories: imported, Quotes

The oboe is above all a melodic instrument; it has a pastoral character, full of tenderness – I might even say, of shyness.

In the tutti of the orchestra the oboe is used, however, without consideration of its timbre; for here it is lost in the ensemble, and its peculiar expression cannot be identified.

Artless grace, pure innocence, mellow joy, the pain of a tender soul – all these the oboe can render admirably with its cantabile. A certain degree of excitement is also within its power; but one must guard against increasing it to the cry of passion, the stormy outburst of fury, menace or heroism; for then its small voice, sweet and somewhat tart at the same time, becomes ineffectual and completely grotesque. Even some of the great masters – Mozart among them – did not avoid this error entirely. In their scores we find passages whose passionate contents and martial accents contrast strangely with the sound of the oboes executing them… The theme of a march, however vigorous, beautiful and noble it may be, loses its nobility, vigor and beauty when played by oboes.

-Hector Berlioz


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