1. Au Lutrin ~ Avant l'exécution
At the Lectern ~ Prior to the execution
2. ~ Attention !!!
3. ~ Introduction ... pianissimo
Introduction ... very quietly
4. ~ Crescendo
5. ~ Fortissimo
6. ~ Essoufflé
Out of Puff
7. ~ Harassé
8. ~ Exténué
The writer of the last card had such beautiful penmanship, that it deserves to be featured on the Internet too. Five of these postcards were sent to Monsieur Chascel(?) who lived in Passy, Paris.
It is very unusual to find the Ophicleide depicted in postcards, and it is even more rare in vintage photographs. It was an instrument that enjoyed, if that is the right word, a place in French and English opera orchestras from the 1820s to the 1870s. As a bass instrument, it never become part of the brass band tradition, where instead the Tuba had more musical and practical qualities.
The humor of the exasperated padre and his funny instrument was even in this later era, a familiar image in France as the ophicleide was still used in small Catholic parishes to support the music sung in the Roman Catholic liturgy. Monsieur le Curé and his Ophicleide was only one of many postcard series printed by Albert Bergeret & Co., in Nancy, France. By 1905 when most of these cards were posted, Bergeret's company had already produced more than 75 million postcards.
Over the past few years I have featured the Ophicleide and its ancestor the Serpent on this blog, but after this collection there may be no more unless I can find another series or a rare photograph with one. So before we say, "Au revoir!" to the Ophicleide, let us watch a YouTube video that demonstrates this unusual musical instrument.
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Since the Ophicleide is no longer manufactured, the few modern performers who specialize in this unusual brass instrument must acquire antique models. In this YouTube video, trombonist Everson Moraes debuts his newest acquisition: an Ophicleide in E flat made by Gautrot breveté and manufactured around 1875. I believe this is a smaller (higher pitch) instrument than Monsieur le Curé's Ophicleide, but this tune, which is very nicely played, is a perfect melody to hear the mellifluous tone of this curious keyed-brass instrument.
YouTube provides all manner of instructional material now. While preparing this post I discovered an ambitious team of young people who have recorded an entire dictionary of words in an attempt to correct the world's English pronunciation.
Or in this case French pronunciation.
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This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where this weekend everything is by the book.