Cor Anglais (Cor Angle)

cor-anglaisCor Anglais (Italian corno Inglese; German Englisches Horn)

The Cor anglais was a tenor oboe in the key of F which is a fifth lower than the ordinary oboe.

It had the same scale and compass as the oboe from E or E flat in bass, to about A or B flat above the treble clef.

It bore the same relation to the oboe that the basset-horn did to the clarinet which caused frequent confusion.

The cor anglais is a refined development of the tenor pommer and was in some respects similar to the oboe da caccia found in Bach’s scores and possible to the chalumeau of Gluck’s operas bit it was more probably that the latter was an instrument of cylindrical bore.

Beethoven wrote a trio for two oboes and cor anglais, number as op. 29, but more correctly as op. 87. He also wrote a set of variations on ‘La ci darem,’ which were performed at Vienna on December 23, 1797.

A striking instance of the use of the cor anglais is in the opening Act III of ‘Tristan’. Meyerbeer, Halevy, Ambroise Thomas and other composers used it frequently.

It had a peculiar wailing and melancholy tone, which was very effective.

cor-anglais1There was an idea that the name ‘cor anglais’ should have been ‘cor angle’ (angled horn) as many early specimens were bent at an angle in the middle of their length.

The name was known to have been given to instruments bent in a sweep rather than at an angle, and so the origin of the designation remains uncertain.