This Gautrot Bb ophicleide (German for keyed serpent) is the only ophicleide in our collection. It dates from circa 1865, making it one of the oldest instruments in the collection. The Gautrot factory was located in Paris, France from 1845 to 1882 and was one of the largest in Europe at the time. The ophicleide was the main bass brass instrument used before the perfection of the valved tubas and incorporated keys like those found on the modern saxophone instead of valves. By 1865, most other European brass makers outside of France had discarded the ophicleide in favor of the valved tuba, however the ophicleide lingered in France up to the beginning of the 20th Century. Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer and other composers of the mid 19th Century wrote for it extensively, and a skilled player can make it sound amazingly well. VS.
Tag #: 01516
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[Gautrot seal] “G. A. / GEORGES / A BESANCON” on bell. First pad linkage stamped ” -47.” Georges A. Besancon was likely the seller