The Keyed Serpent

James Jolly explores the troubled history of the ophicleide, one of the most idiosyncratic brass instruments ever invented.

From the Greek Ophis - a serpent and Kleis - the ophicleide became popular in military bands in the late 19th century, and was utilised by Berlioz and Mendelssohn in works such as Symphonie fantastique and Midsummer Night's Dream.

Now enjoying a revival in orchestras seeking a historically accurate approach, it still divides the opinions of two Berlioz interpreters, Colin Davis and John Eliot Gardiner.

Would they have it in their orchestra? With contributions and demonstrations from ophicleidists Tony George and Stephen Wick.

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James Jolly explores the troubled history of the ophicleide, one of the most idiosyncratic brass instruments ever invented.

From the Greek Ophis - a serpent and Kleis - the ophicleide became popular in military bands in the late 19th century, and was utilised by Berlioz and Mendelssohn in works such as Symphonie fantastique and Midsummer Night's Dream.

Now enjoying a revival in orchestras seeking a historically accurate approach, it still divides the opinions of two Berlioz interpreters, Colin Davis and John Eliot Gardiner.

Would they have it in their orchestra? With contributions and demonstrations from ophicleidists Tony George and Stephen Wick.