basset horn

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Alto cl. in F (occasionally in G), whole tone higher than E♭ alto cl., with a total possible compass of 4 complete octaves. Invented c.1765 and used by Mozart in Requiem, Die Zauberflöte, La Clemenza di Tito and his masonic pieces. He first used it 1781 in the Serenade in B♭ (K361). Beethoven (Prometheus) and Mendelssohn (Scottish Symphony) wrote for it, but after 1850 it was replaced by the E♭ alto cl. Richard Strauss revived it in his operas Elektra (1906–8) and Daphne (1936–7), and for his 2 wind sonatinas comp. 1943 and 1945. A transposing instr., its name is said to derive from a Bavarian term for small bass, and the basset‐hound was named after the sound it makes. The It. term corno di bassetto was adopted by Bernard Shaw as his pseudonym when writing mus. criticism.

Subjects: Music.

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