George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

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ttf_HowardW
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_HowardW » Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:06 am

Just a couple days ago, I was asked about my signature (see below). I therefore decided to dig out my collection of trombone texts by George Bernard Shaw to share with the Forum. They are taken from Shaw's Music: The complete musical criticism in three volumes, edited by Dan H. Laurence (London, etc.: The Bodley Head, 1981).

Here is the first. I'll be posting the others at irregular intervals. Enjoy!

from:
Mrs Tanqueray Plays the Piano (The World, 20 December 1893)

"By the way, I am credibly informed that Chelmsford is happy in the possession of an amateur body called The English Ladies' Orchestral Society, in which the wind and percussion instruments are played by ladies as well as the strings. This is good news for ladies with undeveloped lungs. After all, the chief objection to playing wind instruments is that it prolongs the life of the player beyond all reasonable limits. If you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and, in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly. I hope the Chelmsford ladies will visit London and shew how very unneccessary it is for their sex to waste itself on the mandolin."

H
ttf_BillO
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_BillO » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:08 am

Thanks Image

Looking forward to more...
ttf_HowardW
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_HowardW » Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:09 am

from: Some Instruments and How to Play Them (The Star, 8 March 1889)

"Before I hurry away to St James's Hall to hear the Bach Choir and Joachim, I must snatch a moment to reply to the numerous correspondents who have been struck by my recent remarks as to the salutary effects of wind-instrument playing. It is impossible to answer all their questions in detail, but a few general observations will cover most of the cases.

First, then, as to the constantly recurring question whether the practice of musical instruments is likely to annoy the neighbors. There can be no doubt whatever that it is; and when the man next door sends in to complain there is no use in quarreling over the point. Admit promptly and frankly that the noise is horrible, promise to cease practising after half-past twelve at night, except when you have visitors; and confess that if he in self-defence takes up another instrument you will be bound to suffer in turn for the sake of his health and culture as he is now suffering for yours. This is far more sensible and social than to place the bell of your instrument against the partition wall and blow strident fanfares in defiance of his nerves, as I foolishly did when a complaint of the kind was made to me. But I was little more than a boy at the time, and I have never since thought of it without remorse....

I believe that a taste for brass instruments is hereditary. My father destroyed his domestic peace by immoderate indulgence in the trombone; my uncle played the ophicleide -- very nicely, I must admit -- for years, and then perished by his own hand. Some day I shall buy a trombone myself. At the Inventions Exhibition Messrs Rudall and Carte displayed a double-slide trombone, which I felt insanely tempted to purchase. Of the merits of this instrument I was, and am, wholly ignorant, except that I inferred that its 'shifts' were only half as long as on the ordinary trombone; and I ascertained that its price was 13 guineas. If ever I have so vast a sum at my command I shall probably buy that trombone, and ask Herr Richter to engage me for the next concert at which the Walkürenritt or Les Francs-Juges is in the program."

H


ttf_baileyman
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_baileyman » Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:44 pm

Third act of Man and Superman, the Don Juan in Hell skit, the commander says, "I don't sound the same without my trombones."

The Devil say, "I hear you don't sound the same with them either."

Or something like that.
ttf_Posaunus
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_Posaunus » Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:59 pm

From "Don Juan in Hell" (Act III of Man and Superman):

The Statue: Ha ha! Do you remember how I frightened you when I said something like that to you from my pedestal in Seville? It sounds rather flat without my trombones.

Don Juan: They tell me it generally sounds flat with them, Commander.

[A play perhaps better read than seen on stage?]
ttf_Stewbones43
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_Stewbones43 » Sat Apr 30, 2016 11:42 am

Quote from: HowardW on Apr 27, 2016, 05:09AMfrom: Some Instruments and How to Play Them (The Star, 8 March 1889)

I believe that a taste for brass instruments is hereditary. My father destroyed his domestic peace by immoderate indulgence in the trombone; my uncle played the ophicleide -- very nicely, I must admit -- for years, and then perished by his own hand. Some day I shall buy a trombone myself. At the Inventions Exhibition Messrs Rudall and Carte displayed a double-slide trombone, which I felt insanely tempted to purchase. Of the merits of this instrument I was, and am, wholly ignorant, except that I inferred that its 'shifts' were only half as long as on the ordinary trombone; and I ascertained that its price was 13 guineas. If ever I have so vast a sum at my command I shall probably buy that trombone, and ask Herr Richter to engage me for the next concert at which the Walkürenritt or Les Francs-Juges is in the program."

H



Howard, the quote is dated from 1889. Do we know when the double slide tenor trombone came into being? I knew of double slide contras but always assumed that the tenor version was a much later creation, even well into the 20th century.

Cheers

Stewbones
ttf_Posaunus
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_Posaunus » Sun May 01, 2016 12:42 am

Do we know the approximate present-day value of 13 guineas (about 13½ pounds) in 1889? 

I think it was a fair amount of money - perhaps equivalent to £1,500 to £3,000 today? 

In any case, I'm sure that George Bernard had no intention of squandering any sum - however vast - on a double-slide trombone!   
ttf_MoominDave
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_MoominDave » Sun May 01, 2016 1:23 am

It very much depended on what social stratum you came from. One of the historical inflation calculators out there tells us that £13.13.0 in 1889 equates to £1,610.70 today.

However, while professional salaries then and now match up quite well through this multiplier, salaries at the lower end of the income scale are higher now than they were then. E.g. a list of agricultural labourers' wages over this period - in 1889 an agricultural labourer earned £0.13.4 per week, which, assuming year-round employment (probably a dicey assumption given the nature of the work?), implies an annual wage of £34.15.3, which by the inflation calculator equates to £3928.10 today, or (assuming the modern 37.5 hour working week) £1.43/hr, which you need to multiply severalfold to reach the current UK minimum wage.

So for people in GBS's stratum, this trombone wouldn't have cost the earth. To the people in the little village brass bands, it would have been only the collective purchasing power of the group allied with credit that made them available.
ttf_HowardW
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_HowardW » Sun May 01, 2016 1:40 am

Quote from: Stewbones43 on Apr 30, 2016, 11:42AMHoward, the quote is dated from 1889. Do we know when the double slide tenor trombone came into being? I knew of double slide contras but always assumed that the tenor version was a much later creation, even well into the 20th century.There is a double-slide bass trombone in Leipzig: the bell section is signed "Jobst Schnitzer" and dated 1612; it probably originally belonged to a quart-trombone in D. The double slide with which it is now fitted was most likely made in Vogtland (the area of Saxony on the border to Bohemia) ca. 1830/40 (according to Herbert Heyde).

A lot of experimentation was done in the area of brass instruments during the 19th century. So it is indeed possible that Rudall and Carte designed and produced a double-slide trombone in the 1880s.

Howard
ttf_robcat2075
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Mon May 02, 2016 3:04 pm

From the Trombone History Timeline here is an 1890 depiction of what appears to be a double-slide tenor.

Image




the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica said

QuoteThe double-slide trombone (fig. 2) — patented by Messrs Rudall Carte & Co. but said to have been originally invented by Halary in 1830 — is made in B♭, G bass and E♭ contrabass....
Image

So it seems to have been at least available in the 19th century.
ttf_Posaunus
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_Posaunus » Mon May 02, 2016 3:29 pm

That's quite a wedding ensemble! 
ttf_robcat2075
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Mon May 02, 2016 4:52 pm

Quote from: HowardW on Apr 25, 2016, 06:06AMIf you want to become phthisis-proof, drink-proof, cholera-proof, and, in short, immortal, play the trombone well and play it constantly.

I had to look that up. A name for tuberculosis I was not previously familiar with.




ttf_Eastcheap
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_Eastcheap » Mon May 02, 2016 6:29 pm

Quote from: robcat2075 on May 02, 2016, 04:52PMI had to look that up. A name for tuberculosis I was not previously familiar with.

Mark Twain famously had some things to say about the orthography.
ttf_BillO
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_BillO » Mon May 02, 2016 8:22 pm

Quote from: robcat2075 on May 02, 2016, 03:04PMImage


Is there a skeleton with its back turned to the band there in the middle left hand side of the frame?  Or am I just imagining it?
ttf_robcat2075
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Mon May 02, 2016 9:28 pm

Quote from: BillO on May 02, 2016, 08:22PM
Is there a skeleton with its back turned to the band there in the middle left hand side of the frame?  Or am I just imagining it?

I see that as the driver sitting at the helm of a horse-drawn carriage, perhaps with a powdered wig on.
ttf_Le.Tromboniste
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_Le.Tromboniste » Fri May 06, 2016 12:49 pm

Quote from: Stewbones43 on Apr 30, 2016, 11:42AMHoward, the quote is dated from 1889. Do we know when the double slide tenor trombone came into being? I knew of double slide contras but always assumed that the tenor version was a much later creation, even well into the 20th century.

Cheers

Stewbones

Gottfried Weber published a (publicity) article in the Wiener Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung as well as a booklet on the "Weberschen Doppelposaune" in 1817. An instrument with 9 positions, that he describes in alto (Eb?), tenor/tenorbass (Bb) and bass (F) sizes.
ttf_baileyman
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_baileyman » Sat May 07, 2016 5:31 am

Quote from: Posaunus on Apr 29, 2016, 11:59PMFrom "Don Juan in Hell" (Act III of Man and Superman):

The Statue: Ha ha! Do you remember how I frightened you when I said something like that to you from my pedestal in Seville? It sounds rather flat without my trombones.

Don Juan: They tell me it generally sounds flat with them, Commander.

[A play perhaps better read than seen on stage?]

Ah, the joys of aging memory!  What I was recalling was a radio performance on LP with Agness Moorehead, Cedrick Hardwicke, Charles Laughton, and Charles Boyer.  Those guys could really talk!


ttf_HowardW
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_HowardW » Tue May 10, 2016 6:43 am

from: Rossini’s Stabat Mater (7 February 1877)

In the duet Quis est homo, the trombones, which have become a nuisance to frequenters of the Albert Hall, exerted themselves with their usual offensiveness. It is true that Rossini marked the semiquaver emphasized by the trombones fortissimo, but the maestro had studied the instruments in the hands of artists, and not in the circus. The strangest thing is that Mr Barnby, who should know better, apparently approves of the hideous bark – there is really no other equivalent in the language – from which the audience visibly shrink. Excepting further a sharp drum, the orchestra was otherwise efficient.

H

ttf_HowardW
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George Bernard Shaw on the trombone

Post by ttf_HowardW » Tue May 10, 2016 6:43 am

from: Rossini’s Stabat Mater (7 February 1877)

In the duet Quis est homo, the trombones, which have become a nuisance to frequenters of the Albert Hall, exerted themselves with their usual offensiveness. It is true that Rossini marked the semiquaver emphasized by the trombones fortissimo, but the maestro had studied the instruments in the hands of artists, and not in the circus. The strangest thing is that Mr Barnby, who should know better, apparently approves of the hideous bark – there is really no other equivalent in the language – from which the audience visibly shrink. Excepting further a sharp drum, the orchestra was otherwise efficient.

H

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