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ophicleide (ŏfˈĭklīd) [Gr.,=serpent with keys], brass wind musical instrument of relatively wide conical bore, largest of the keyed bugles; invented in 1817 by Jean-Hilaire Asté of Paris. It had from 8 to 11 keys and a full, loud tone; since its intonation was deficient, however, it was soon displaced in the orchestra by the bass tuba. Many composers scored for it before the tuba was available.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a wind instrument patented in 1817 by the Parisian master craftsman Halary (J. H. Asté). The ophicleide is a horseshoe-shaped, conical pipe with a cup-shaped mouthpiece at its narrow, spirally bent end. The bass ophicleide was sometimes included in symphony orchestras. (There were also alto and baritone ophicleides.) Although it was replaced by the tuba in the second half of the 19th century, the ophicleide is still used occasionally in France, Italy, and South America.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
As has proven true with other arrangements in this series, the tuba part is written in a higher range (as it is designated for ophicleide), which may be challenging for some tuba players.
A second copyist's score, probably made about the middle of the century in Exeter, lacks parts for two of the four trumpets, serpent, ophicleide and organ.
The thing here is that it's from the always-reliable Sir Charles Mackerras, and it's done on period instruments, with the novelty of an original ophicleide replacing the modern tuba.
Steven Bossuyt, keyed bugle in Bb; Jan Huylebroeck, Ophicleide in C.
The bass instruments include the valved tenor horn (also a virtuoso solo instrument), the bombardon, the ophicleide, the serpent, the bass tuba (which only became successful when built with a much wider bore than the earliest models), and the Wagner tuba.
Rasping strings, probing brass (including the world's only contrabass ophicleide) and eloquent wood windun derpinned the magnificent projection and diction of the versatile choristers.
Rasping horns, narrow-bore trombones and a sturdy, compact ophicleide (ancestor of the tuba) cut through the textures, and the athletic chorus, meticulous in its diction, delivered the text almost as a gripping page-turner narrative.
Almeida, who performed on ophicleide and trombone, played with some of the great players of choro during the early decades of the twentieth century, including Anacleto de Medeiros and the father of Pixinguinha.
One disappointment: Berlioz included three bass instruments in his orchestra that were commonly employed in contemporary French church music but which became obsolete during his lifetime; the buccin, the ophicleide, and the serpent d'harmonie.
Although the (by then Cuban) nineteenth-century contradanza was initially performed by an ensemble called tipico (two violins, two clarinets, one double bass, one trumpet, one trombone, ophicleide, Cuban pailas, and guiro), this ensemble was gradually replaced by the charanga francesa, based on the "French" trio to which Cuban percussion instruments, three violins, one flute, one 'cello, and one double bass were added.