Top 10: Books for Oboe

January 18, 2012

In honour of the University of Ottawa’s Oboe Weekend, taking place this Saturday, we’ve put together a Top 10 list of our best-selling titles for oboe.

1. Barret: Oboe Method

First published in 1862, The oboe method by Apollon Barré (know to English speakers as Barret) is still widely used today. The standard edition by Boosey & Hawkes is a facsimile of the original publication. Full of technical excercises, tips on reed making, and practical advice on general musicianship, the famous method has yet to be supplanted in the oboe repertoire. Barret also includes forty pieces in progressive order that are accompanied by an unfigured bass.

2. Oboe Solos with Piano Accompaniment

This popular collection contains pieces in a variety of styles from the Baroque through to the 20th century. The range of material providers something to please most tastes and skills.


3. A Tune a Day

A beginning method for the younger student, A Tune a Day covers rudimentary details that more advanced tutors, like the Barret Oboe Method, take for granted. Like other books in the Tune a Day series, this method is based around a collection of short melodies, each of which presents a particular technical challenge. Many of the melodies are taken from familiar folk songs or hymns.


4. Sellner: Method for Oboe or Saxophone: Book 1

Sellner’s method is more a collection of studies arranged in progressive order. The book is equally useful for saxophones and oboes, which share similar fingering, but it contains no fingering chart, information about reed making, or other details the student may find useful. Instead, the book focuses on technical matters and the development of tone by arranging the excercises progressively by the class of interval used. Duets parts included for the teacher will also give the book a second life: having completed it, the student can return to the beginning to learn the teacher’s parts.

5. 48 Famous Studies for Oboe or Saxophone

This collection includes a variety of music that can be performed by two oboes or two saxophones. The first volume contains 48 Studies for solo oboe by W. Ferling with the first oboe part of Ferling’s Trois Duos Concertaints, Betthoven’s Trio for 2 Oboes and English Horn (Op. 87), and 10 Duos by B. Bernards. The second volume contains the second oboe part for these pieces and English horn part for the Beethoven. The stylistic variety in these pieces is quite welcome and the technical challenges numerous. The first volume is the one to get for the student. The second volume supplements the first for ensemble playing.

6. Britten: Six Metamorphoses After Ovid

Britten’s Six Metamorphoses After Ovid is a masterpiece of the 20th-century repertoire for oboe. Each movement captures the personality of a character from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Included are the lyrical lines of Pan’s flute, the rauccous feasts of Bacchus, and the tragic fall of Narcissus whose reflected image is captured by a two-voice part for solo oboe. These are challenging but rewarding pieces for an instrument whose repertoire rests mainly in the distant past.


7. Marcello: Concerto in C minor

A classic Baroque concerto, fast-slow-fast, with a tragic middle movement and plenty of passagework to keep your fingers busy. Try it on your 415 replica with harpsichord accompaniment.


8. Sellner: Method for Oboe or Saxophone: Book 2

The second volume of Sellner’s method for oboe or saxophone includes numerous studies designed to work the use of specific keys. These technical studies are an excellent addition to routine technical work and will loosen up the oboist’s dexterity.

9. Hindemith: Sonata for Oboe and Piano

Hindemith’s Sonatas for all the orchestral instruments are masterpieces of 20th-century Gebrauchsmusik, or music for use. These sonatas are composed for amateur music-making but are often very challenging. Hindemith composed the Sonata for Oboe and Piano in 1938, two years before emigrating to the United States, and it uses Hindemith’s quirky tonal vocabulary.

10. Haydn: Concerto in C major

Squeaking in at number 10, Haydn’s Concerto in C Major features a brilliant Allegro spirituoso that is full of tricky passages. Quite virtuosic if the tempo is just so. An excellent choice for concert performance or for examination.

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One Response to “Top 10: Books for Oboe”

  1. Charles "Chip" Hamann says:

    Good selection! For very young students, I also like the Rubank methods, which I grew up using. I don’t know the “A tune a day” series. “The Barret” is number one for me, too! The “oboe Bible” or even just “the book”, as some have termed it!

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