New: The Saxon Alternative
The Telemann Wind Band Project

The most important and ubiquitous art-music ensemble of the late 17th century and 18th centuries was the oboe band, often augmented by brass. The Hautboisten appealed to the aristocratic market as a flexible, multi-purpose ensemble suitable for outdoor performances as well as intimate soirées, but above all as being modern and on-trend.

Around 1715 a variant of the oboe band emerged from Eastern Europe. Although not everybody was convinced (In 1717 in Vienna one lady wrote “the music good, if they had not that detestable custom of mixing hunting horns with it, that almost deafen the company”), the Saxon Alternative as it became known, was rapidly adopted as the aristocratic musical accessory of choice. The addition of horns transformed the oboe band into something entirely new and a bit daring.

The repertoire of these groups mirrored that of string ensembles—orchestral suites, masques, operas and even masses were orchestrated entirely for winds.