What Is an Oboe Concerto?

A solo oboe is featured in an oboe concerto, which is accompanied an orchestra. An oboe concerto, like most traditional concertos, is divided into three movements. Throughout all three movements, the soloist is featured and plays the melody. The soloist is accompanied a full orchestra, which may play the chorus or, in some pieces, compete directly with the soloist’s melody. The solo oboe’s elaborate and complex use, as well as the orchestra’s accompanying play, are the hallmarks of an oboe concerto.

The popularity of oboe concertos, as well as concertos written for string instruments, grew during the Baroque period, a period of artistic creativity. The term “baroque music” refers to the elaborate nature of each composition, which gained popularity in the 16th century and peaked in the mid-eighteenth century. Concertos, including those for the oboe, evolved from concerto grosso compositions, which were also popular during the Baroque period. Concerto grosso translates to “big concert” in Italian.

Concerto grossos, for example, usually featured a small group of soloists who traded musical positions and performances with a full orchestra. Concertos, on the other hand, featured a melody played solo instruments such as the piano, cello, violin, or other string instruments, with orchestral accompaniment providing a supplemental chorus. Giuseppe Tortelli, who wrote concertos primarily for the violin, is credited with writing the first known concerto.

Several composers of opera, church cantatas, and chamber music experimented with concertos in the late 1600s and early 1700s, looking for a way to broaden the musical style’s appeal to both the public and the church. After the Hotteterre family of French instrument makers invented the oboe in the 17th century, oboe concerto compositions became popular among popular composers of the time, such as Georg Philipp Telemann and Tomaso Albinoni, contemporaries of Bach and Vivaldi. The first known and most popular Italian oboe concerto is attributed to Tomaso Albinoni.

Albinoni’s first concerto for wind instruments, Opus 7, was published in 1716 and showcased Albinoni’s love of the oboe. The oboe was still considered a newly introduced instrument in Italy, Albinoni’s home country and the epicenter of European musical culture in the early 1700s, when Opus 7 was published. Despite the fact that the oboe was a new instrument, composers such as Georg Philipp Telemann and George Frideric Handel wrote oboe concertos in Germany prior to Albinoni’s release of Opus 7. Opus 7 was the most successful of the first oboe concerto compositions, despite not being the first oboe concerto.

Due to the success of Opus 7, Albinoni wrote another oboe concerto, Opus 9, which was published in 1722. In the late 1700s, interest in baroque oboe concertos and demand for wind instrument concertos similar to Opus 7 and Opus 9 waned. Few, if any, composers wrote concertos for wind instruments the nineteenth century, instead focusing on string instruments and the piano.