Contra Hautboy English
Contra Oboe Italian
Double Hautboy English
Double Oboe English

An Oboe stop pitched an octave lower, at 16' or 32'. It is an uncommon stop, the bass of the Oboe usually being provided by the Bassoon. Bonavia-Hunt says:

The contra hautboy 16ft. of Father Willis consisted of real oboe pipes right down to the 16ft. note, the scale at CCC being 6in. This beautiful double reed is the last word in soft, smooth, reed tone, and is loaded at the end with the characteristic Willis brass weights.


Osiris contains nineteen examples of Contra Oboe, six examples of Contra Hautboy, and two examples of Double Hautboy, all at 16'. No examples of Double Oboe are known; it is mentioned only by Irwin. Contributions welcome.

Contra Oboe 16', Swell; St. George's Hall, Liverpool, England; Willis 1855. (Audsley considered this a “fine and noteworthy example”, but names it Contra Hautboy, whereas Osiris lists it as Contra Oboe. It was voiced by George Willis.)

Contra Oboe 16', Swell; St. Joseph R.C. Church, Seattle, Washington, USA; Willis 1872. (Originally built for Christ Church, Westgreen, London, England.)

Contra Hautboy 16', Swell; Winchester College Chapel, Winchester, England; Norman & Beard 1908 (dismantled 1982).

Contra Hautboy 16', Swell; St. George's Hall, Winchester Castle, England; Willis 1888 (reportedly destroyed sometime after 1979).

Double Hautboy 16', Swell; Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire, England; Holland 1796. May have been a later addition.

Double Hautboy 16', Swell; Cathedral Church of St. John, Providence, Rhode Island, USA; Hook 1851.

Sound Clips

See the Sound Files appendix for general information.

Contra Oboe 16', Swell Culver Academies, Indiana, USA Burger & Shafer 1972; Möller pipes arpeggio St. Anne


Audsley[1]: Contra-Oboe. Audsley[2]: I.XIII Contra-Oboe; II.XXXVIII Contra-Oboe. Bonavia-Hunt[1]: Oboe. Hopkins & Rimbault[1]: § 640. Irwin[1]: Contra Oboe. Wedgwood[1]: Oboe.
Copyright © 2001 Edward L. Stauff, all rights reserved.
ContraOboe.html - Last updated 13 February 2009.
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