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Weird, weird oboe.

I'm still an oboe newbie and full of questions with little time to search for answers, so if you'd all be so kind as to point me in the right direction - I've tried google unsuccessfully. I came across a LaFleur B&H import oboe with what looks like the keywork of a simple system clarinet. Two rings on the bottom joint, one little plateau style key in the center on the upper joint, one trill key, and everything else looks "normal" on the bottom joint. The previous owner says it plays just fine... but... what IS it?
It's most obviously an oboe, not a cone-shaped clarinet, mind you. The bell very clearly reads "JR LaFleur imported by boosey & hawkes" and here are your photos.


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
As far as I know, B&H's "La Fleur" and "400" lines were manufactured by Amati. (as are Corton-Brand clarinets)
Amati gave up non-bassoon double reeds some 40 years ago, but sometimes you can still see the odd Oboe or even English Horn pop up in online auctions.

There are indeed older "German System" oboes around, eg that one here.
Thank you so much for the quick reply! What a great link. Anyone know how old exactly my oboe is? I can't find serial numbers anywhere either. It's 35xx.
Thanks for your time, I don't want to be a burden. ;-)


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I'm no oboe historian expert but that looks to be quite an early oboe (not super early) .. ie late 1800s or early 1900s. Kinda like in the same generation as early Albert keywork clarinets. Those older instruments (oboe and clarinet) share alot of design characteristics such as spoon touches, long keywork touches, etc.
Ahhh. I see - I was figuring the bell was mismatched because of that, it does not look like a Boosey & Hawkes Lafleur one bit. Not even close, apart from the bell which has that stamped as I said. I saw that and I thought, no way that was post 1938.
Oh why didn't I think of wiki. Apparently it's a "Triebert Systeme 3" oboe... most certainly nothing like the modern oboe.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
nope, clearly shown in this one picture of it's vintage

at one time i looked at the evolution of the oboe and clarinet because they had so many similarities. The keywork was very similar etc, until the boehm implementation and then they slimmed down the touches from the spoon shape still found on the oboe today. I was working on Oboe history pages like my Clarinet ones .. i still have them but they don't contain enough information yet, then I lost interest !!
What's wrong with 'em? :p

I don't know, Steve, I think it's worth it to carry on with an oboe information site. I love having all the information gathered around in one easy, convenient spot, like those awesome clarinet pages that have told me almost everything I needed to know about some of my vintage clarinets.

Either way it seems like I've got a pretty neat oboe on my hands now.
So many good points, Pete. All that buzz would really worry me if I were playing in orchestras, but I'm one of those "studio magic" people who loves to put different instruments and textures in to my recordings.

I too find flute difficult. I'm selling mine off, it's tragically challenging. I figure, oboe would really sound great in some of those "empty" spots I've left in some of my recordings, and I refuse to MIDI it in! ;)


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
There are more solos for oboe in orchestral pieces than any other instrument, including violin.
That makes a certain amount of sense, but the solos are not necessarily that long. I think of the obbligato in Beethoven's 5th, for instance. That's only a couple bars long.

It also occurred to me that I haven't heard any concertos for oboe and orchestra (or oboe vs. orchestra, if it's PDQ Bach). I know there are a few, but they don't seem to come up on, say, classical radio stations.

Oh. You also have to remember that you clean oboes with a turkey feather. That, however, would make me more interested in the instrument than less :).


Old King Log
Staff member
It's a long standing problem...

Push comes to shove, instruments other than the violin and the piano are seldom featured on radio stations that play "art" music. This is one of the reasons that I don't bother to listen to the "classical" music stations - I'm sick of piano piece after piano piece.

Worse yet, here in horrible Houston, we have a "art music" station that now "broadcasts" half on the internet and half over the airwaves. The alternating content is stuff like "Fresh Air" and other environmental programming that is of little or no interest to me. So, I dropped my support and now listen to stuff from my extensive DVD collection.

As we used to say in the armored cavalry, "Screw 'em if they can't take a joke."
What with all the current budget cuts I'm not sure how much longer we'll have it, but for some 40 years now Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music station has been playing a wide variety of good stuff - including, but in no way limited to, oboe concertos, occasional Teleman bassoonery, lots of brass, woodwind, opera, and even some saxophone. It's available in streaming form on the web. (Check out MPR.org)

It's the only radio station I listen to (right now I'm listening to Sibelius' 2nd Symphony, with the Helsinki Phil), and I definitely do contribute .
Going back to the Oboe. I don't quite understand why that the Boehm oboe would become quite unpopular when it is mechanically simpler to that of the Full conservatoire automatic setup... it has been said that keeping the oboe regulated is a demanding task due to the intricacies of the keywork. (Morrie said to me once that the costs in mass production of Oboe to Clarinet are roughly equal, so one technically would yield higher profit margin from a high-end oboe comparing to a clarinet. This in itself however does not explain this matter to me totally though)

come to think of it, I think I need a low-down on full vs. semi-automatic when it comes to Oboe.
Me too, Franklin. I scratch my head when I see those fancy contraptions (politely called full conservatoire oboes). They look like Rubik's cubes in instrument form. Just the thought of trying to learn how to play that makes my poor little brain throb.
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