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What the heck is that? Your guide to the Wagner pit


David Becker on contrabass trombone

The Wagnertuben, instruments created just for the operas of the Ring Cycle, played by Stephanie Blaha, Matthew Oliphant, Gabby Webster, and Fritz Foss

Douglas Rosenthal on the bass trumpet, whose sound is so unfamiliar it is often misidentified

Wagner was never satisfied with existing boundaries. (The Ring Cycle clocks in at 17 hours of music!) So when he learned that the bassoons of the 19th century had "Bb" as the lowest possible note he worked with the Wilhelm Heckel GmbH company to develop bassoons with "A" as the lowest note. These instruments are quite rare these days, so we make do by adding an extension, as demonstrated by Preman Tilson and Hanna Sterba


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