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19C Valve Trombones

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:13 am
by silverslideman
Is anything known of the specs of the valve trombones that we understand were played in Prague and Vienna orchestras and Italian opera in 19C?

Modern discussions that I have seen centre on the fact that they had valves, but their sound, blend and balance, among themselves and with the orchestra, would have been determined more by parameters like size and shape of bore, bell and mouthpiece.

Do any of the original instruments survive?

Re: 19C Valve Trombones

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 11:32 am
by LeTromboniste
silverslideman wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 9:13 am
Is anything known of the specs of the valve trombones that we understand were played in Prague and Vienna orchestras and Italian opera in 19C?

Modern discussions that I have seen centre on the fact that they had valves, but their sound, blend and balance, among themselves and with the orchestra, would have been determined more by parameters like size and shape of bore, bell and mouthpiece.

Do any of the original instruments survive?
Germanic-ish style instrument. Those in use in Italy initially came from Vienna, although Italian makers did start making them too, but modeled after the original Viennese ones. Leopold Uhlmann was the most well-regarded maker. Rotary and Vienna valve (aka "pumpenvalve") were both common.

This for example is an early one (1834) by Uhlmann:
Image

A slightly later one (1850s) by Beyde:
Image

Another from ca.1850s, maker unknown.:
Image

As you can see, very conical bell sections and relatively wide bells. Not quite the same profile as German trombones, but closer to that than to the image conjured by the words "valve trombone" today.

Re: 19C Valve Trombones

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 12:23 pm
by Kbiggs
I seem to remember that Roger Norrington and his orchestra put out a few recordings 25+ years ago of mid- to late Romantic overtures and other concert pieces where the trombonists used valve trombones. I don’t know whether they used piston, rotary, or “pumpenvalve” instruments. I’ll try digging through my CDs (yes, those “old” things) to find it...