Posted in Project 1: Orchestras and Virtuosos

Research point 2.1: Harold en Italie, Part 2 – Instrument Glossary Update

The last task for this research point is to update the instrument glossary with the unfamiliar names of instruments from Harold en Italie by Berlioz. To see the first part of this research point, where I wrote down my impressions, click here. While the first instrument glossary post had German instrument names from Don Juan by Strauss, (click here to see), I’ve looked at two versions for this piece, one score in French and the other in Italian. I marked both languages below. I should mention that I also found the scanned manuscript by Berlioz, which I will reference several times.

  • Wind section:

Flauto, flauti (It.) – flûte, flûtes (Fr.) – flute, flutes

Flauto piccolo (It.) – petite flûte (Fr.) – piccolo

Flauto grande (It.) – grande flûte (Fr.) – concert flute

Oboe, oboi (It.) – hautbois (same in plural) (Fr.) – oboe, oboes. Interestingly, in the manuscript version of the score, Berlioz put oboï in several places, perhaps as shorthand:

berlioz 10

Corni inglese (It.) – cor anglais (Fr.) – cor anglais

Oboe e corni inglese alternativo (It.) Hautbois et cor anglais alternativement (Fr.) – oboe and cor anglais alternatively.

Clarinetti (It.) – clarinettes (Fr.) – clarinets

Fagotto, fagotti (It.) – basson, bassons (Fr.) – bassoon, bassoons

  • Horns:

Corno, corni (It.) – cor, cors (Fr.) – horn, horns

  • Brass section:

Cornetti (It.) – cornets a piston (Fr.) – cornettos, interestingly, in the Italian version of the score I found, there was an instance of it written as cornets, perhaps the translator/editor forgot to put it into Italian language.

Trombe (It.) – trumpettes (Fr.) – trumpets in C

Tromboni (It.) – trombones (Fr.) – trombones

Ophicleide o Tuba (It.) – Ophicléide ou Tuba (Fr.) – Ophicleide or tuba. In the original manuscript, however, Berlioz put trombonnes et un ophicleide – trombones and one ophicleide, instead of or.

  • Percussion

Triangolo (It.) – triangle (Fr.) – Triangle

Piatti (It.) – cymbales (Fr.) – cymbals

Tamburi piccoli (It.) – tambours de Basque (Fr.) – snare drums

Timpani (It.) – timballes (Fr.) – Timpani

Arpa (It.) – harpe (Fr.) – Harp

  • Solo instrument

Viola Solo (It.) – alto solo (Fr.) – solo viola

  • Strings

Violini (It.) – violons (Fr.) – violins. It’s interesting how Berlioz used Wini or VVini in the manuscript as a shorthand to designate together the first and second violins:

berlioz 11

Violini al meno #violons au moins # – at least # violins

Viole (It.) – altos (Fr.) – violas

Violoncelli (It.) – violoncelles (Fr.) – cellos. Berlioz shortened it as Velli:

berlioz 12a

Contrabassi (It.) – contre-basses (Fr.) – double basses. Berlioz put C. Bssi as shorthand:

berlioz 12b

Finally, a little note that in Italian, when the instrument is in a certain key, it is denoted as in, while in French, it is en. In the two versions I have, in the Italian, the key itself is marked alphabetically (C, D, E etc.), while in the French, the key is written in solmization (ut, re, mi, etc.).

In conclusion, while many French and Italian instrument names were already familiar to me, it was quite engaging looking at the original manuscript to see how the composer himself would denote the instruments, finding out the shorthand and other methods Berlioz would use as markings. In addition, although I could already recognize most of the instrument names from both languages, I still wanted to compile a big glossary, which I could always reference in the future, as well as practice the orchestral layout. Lastly, I really enjoyed listening to this peculiar piece, looking at its score, writing down my impressions and compiling an update for my instrument glossary.