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 Th Poppe English Horn
Author: kevint 
Date:   2017-08-26 17:49
Attachment:  poppe-0-full.JPG (495k)
Attachment:  poppe-1-UJ.JPG (361k)
Attachment:  poppe-2-UJ-sidekeys.JPG (397k)
Attachment:  poppe-3-LJ-bell.JPG (463k)
Attachment:  poppe-4-LJ-side.JPG (414k)

dear oboists,
I recently acquired a Th Poppe (Dresden) English horn, serial #501. It has some unusual features -- at least, unusual for an amateur such as myself: low Bb/Eb, F-key with roller, and an odd key on the right side of the upper joint which appears to function like an old Triebert system-4-type Bb key. There is also a second key opened by the F-key, on the left side of the lower joint. (I am attaching some pictures to illustrate). Have any of you seen such an instrument before? Any idea when it was made? The side Bb and second F key are particularly baffling; could these have been added at the request of the player who placed the original order? Thanks in advance for any clues you could provide!

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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: borris 
Date:   2017-08-26 19:14

This is a pretty typical Germany made open hole instrument. The second Bb is used for the Ab/Bb thrill. Also can be used for double (super fast) thrill G/A. The added second F vent is for better performance of the middle F, that usually is low and unstable on French instruments without this F vent key. Can't tell for sure the age of the horn, I'm positive Chris knows it much better.

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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: kevint 
Date:   2017-08-26 19:23

Thanks for the quick response, and the useful information! I cannot imagine using the side Bb for trills in its present form; it looks like the end of the key was broken off, leaving it difficult to reach.

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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-08-26 19:40

The side Ab-Bb trill key touchpiece should curl around the side G# key like the side G#-A trill key on modern (full Gillet) oboes. Someone's removed it or broken it off, but it can be remade from the standard gauge nickel silver used for key arms (usually around 2.5mm thick) and bent into a curl with enough of an inside radius to allow the side G# to move freely within it (although the inside of the curl can be lined with thin cork to safeguard any clattering noises), silver soldered onto the remainder of the key arm, then filed, papered up, polished, plated and refitted.

This key can also be used as an altissimo F# key in conjunction with the standard altissimo F fingering (just as the side Bb key does on saxes when using the front F fingering).

This cor also has a low B-C link, so that will make slurs from low Bb to Eb or B to D# easy as it frees up the right hand pinky. You can slur from low D to low B or Bb with just the LH pinky provided it's all set up and regulated well.

As with most German instruments it's fully automatic and has the F resonance key (not to be confused with the forked F vent which isn't the same thing).

This cor with the low Bb will be ideal for playing Mahler.


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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: kevint 
Date:   2017-08-26 19:56

Thanks for the detailed reply, Chris! Regrettably, I do not have the metalworking skills to rebuild the trill key as you suggest. Perhaps one day I will pay one of the excellent woodwind technicians we have here in Montréal to do it for me. Yes I noticed the Rube Goldberg-esque mechanism regulating the octave vents -- I have seen it on other instruments, and find it frustrating to adjust. I did not see the B-C link, however, which is a feature I appreciate very much. Thank you for pointing it out. The amateur orchestra I belong to is rather unlikely to tackle Mahler any time soon, but if we ever do, it is good to know that my English horn will be up to the task (even if I'm not)!

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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: edgar 
Date:   2017-08-27 21:38

You may find information about Theodor Poppe (Dresden) here:

This is the Marktneukirchen museum forum. Unfortunately the conversation is in German. If necessary I can translate ist.

The Th.Poppe business existed in Dresden from ca. 1880 - 1945. The expert says the the intonation may be a problem for modern orchestras. We in Germany play at 442 Hz or higher. Many American orchestras still play at 440 Hz - so this may not be an essential problem.


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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: kevint 
Date:   2017-08-27 22:55

Thank you for the link to the Markneukirchen forum, Edgar. It appears that not even the researchers at the Musical instrument Museum there have much information about the Poppe workshop, aside from street addresses and their tragic end in the 1945 fire-bombing of Dresden. Yes, I noticed the comment about playability of Poppe oboes in modern orchestras, though the commentator referred to reed morphology rather than pitch.

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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: edgar 
Date:   2017-08-28 12:51

The last contribution by "Schippmann" says:

"Leider sind sie in der Intonation nicht mit den modernen Instrumenten vergleichbar, also heute nicht mehr in den Orchestern zu spielen"

This translates to: "Unfortunately they cannot be compared in intonation with modern instruments. Hence today they can no longer be played in orchestras".

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 Re: Th Poppe English Horn
Author: kevint 
Date:   2017-08-29 16:27

I posted a query on the Markneukirchen Museum forum, and received two responses. So far, not much to add to the bits of information about Th Poppe already posted in 2009. If I learn anything more, I will share it here.
best wishes,

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