The oboe is a double reed instrument with a clear, bright nasal tone. It was developed c 1650, its conical tube being divided into three sections which enabled refinement in tuning and tone. The basic model with two keys was used well into the 19th century, by which point it was an established member of the orchestra.
Keys were added to make the fingering of certain passages easier. The keywork of the modern oboe has changed little since the late 19th century. At times bright and joyous, at other times dark and sombre, the oboe brings a dramatic and beautiful sound to the orchestra.
Video: Anthony Robson talks about the oboe by Floth, Dresden, 1807 (3863).
The cor anglais (English horn) also uses a double reed. It is pitched a fifth below the oboe, has a parallel history of development to that of the oboe. The sound of the cor anglais is mellower, darker, and well suited to the rich sound of Romantic composers of the 19th century.
Video: Anthony Robson talks about the cor anglais in F by Triebert, Paris, 1825 (3322)