Instrumentation

  • The Glory of a Bandmaster

    The Glory of a Bandmaster

Ponchielli's Instrumentation

By the early twentieth century, the Italian band had developed a unique instrumentation thanks to the efforts of Alessandro Vessella (1860-1929), a pianist who had been encouraged to become a capobanda by Ponchielli himself after Vessella lost his ability as a pianist due to an accident. In a posthumous, parthian shot, Vessella said that Ponchielli had made "mistakes" as a bandmaster, though none were precisely noted. In Ponchielli's defense, his student, Giovanni Tebaldini (1864-1952), gave several lectures in 1934 (centenary of Ponchielli's birth) defending the name of his teacher.

Except for the use of the A-flat clarinet, Ponchielli retained the basic structure of the band already in place in Cremona. It seems that only his admiration for the skill of Vittorio Franchini on this most delicate and difficult instrument made it a part of both bands.

If money can be used to demonstrate Ponchielli's instrumentation, The "pianta" or roster of the band of 1865 is an excellent guide:

Clarinets - 10 Players - 4160 Lira per year

Cornet/Flugelhorn - 4 Players - 1980 Lira per year

Genis/Horns - 3 Players - 780 Lira per year

Trumpets - 5 Players - 2300 Lira per year

Bombardini - 2 Players - 900 Lira per year

Trombones - 4 Players - 1380 Lira per year

Tubas - 3 Players - 1900 Lira per year

Percussion - 2 Players - 700 Lira per year


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