Oboe d'amore is the alto or mezzosoprano member of the oboe family. A member of the modern oboe family with a soprano/alto range, the range of which sounds from G-sharp below middle C to C-sharp above the treble clef, but is notated a minor third above that. The oboe d'amore was very popular during the Baroque era. Its sound is somewhat gentler than that of the oboe, and its lower notes are dark, full, and rich. The oboe d'amore has almost fallen out of favor today, often being replaced by the oboe and the Cor anglais. They are part of the wider family of the double reeds which includes the following instruments from the smallest to the largest:
- oboe d'amore
- cor anglais, or the English horn
- baritone oboe or bass oboe
- bassoon or fagott
- contrabassoon or contrafagott.
In the baroque time, there were also instruments like oboe da caccia and taille, which are substituted by the english horn in modern performances. In the 18th century, there were also oboes with the same size and the same pitch (A) as the oboe d'amore, but without the pear-shaped bell. These were called just as 'oboe', 'oboe grande' or 'haute-contre'. According to the present knowledge, the oboe d'amore was at the first time used in 1717 by Christoph Graupner in his Cantata Wie wunderbar ist Gottes Güt. The instrument was used by J.S.Bach, G.P.Telemann, the Graun brothers, C.Graupner, G.H.Stölzel, J.M.Böhm, A.Lotti, J.H.Roman and a few others. Possibly the last to write for oboe d'amore in the 18th century was C.D. von Dittersdorf. The oboe d'amore was re-established in the second half of the 19th century and it is used both in presentations of baroque music and in modern compositions. The composers who have used the oboe d'amore after the new rise of the instrument include Debussy, R.Strauss, Ravel, Koechlin, Delius, Henze, Takemitsu and others.
Slightly larger than the oboe, the oboe d'amore has a less assertive and more tranquil and serene tone, and is considered the mezzo-soprano or alto of the oboe family. It is a transposing instrument, sounding a minor third lower than it is notated, i.e. in A. The bell is pear-shaped, similar to that of the larger Cor anglais, and it uses a bocal that is similar to it, although shorter.
Compositions for the Oboe d'amore
- J.S.Bach: Concerto A major, BWV1055
- Claude Debussy: Gigues from Images
- Christos Hatzis: Heirmos
- G.P.Telemann: Cantata 'Der Herr ist König' and 'Die Donnerode'
- G.P.Telemann: Concerto for Flute, Oboe d'amore and Viola d'amore