Ferdnando Roth
Corno a Macchina

Label :
[star/tuning fork logo]
Tosoroni Corno a Macchina (single valved horn)
Serial Number:
Date of Manufacture:
ca. 1905 - 1910
E-flat, (or F with an alternate tuning slide)
3 Rotary mounted on right-hand side
11.45 mm
Bell Flare:
6.5 cm Vee gusset with 4.87 cm nickel silver garland
6.2 cm.
Bell Diameter:
27.7 cm
Base Metal:
Yellow Brass
(click on photos for larger view)

The horn above was a very popular design credited to horn virtuoso Antonio Tosoroni of Florence and Joesf Riedl of Vienna dating to ca. 1842. It was featured in Tosoroni's Metodo per corno a tre pistoni (Method for horn with three valves, 1846) and the Metodo teorico-pratico per il corno a macchina da potersi insegnare anche a quelli che non suonano il detto strumento (Theoretical and practical method for the valved horn that  can teach even those who do not play on that instrument, 1855) by Francesco Paoli (see another horn of this design by Ferdnando Roth,  and one by Meinl and Lapini). It was used in many bands in northern Italy well into the twentieth century. The previous owner was told that this instrument was played for the first part of the 20th Century in La Banda Rossa (The Red Band) of Utica NY, which was established in 1905 and is still very active today. At the time it was formed, local “Congregas” (societies) honored the Saints with processions and feasts. A group of accomplished musicians had been gathering at the Sons of Italy Hall in Utica, NY, just to play and enjoy the music they had brought with them from the old country. In 1905, these Congregas approached the musicians to ask them to provide the musical prayers for the processions and perform in concert at the feasts. The Red Band carries on this tradition through the present day.

This horn is in beautiful condition and exhibits some evidence of restoration. I has been polished and lacquered which is seldom seen in European horns of this period. There are two nickel-silver ferrules, one at the first branch and one on the main tuning slide, and a small square nickel-silver brace on the long leadpipe.  A heavy brace made from square brass rod stock secures the leadpipe at the mouthpiece end. The brace at the bell is also nickel silver and not characteristic of other Italian instruments of this period.  The leadpipe is wrapped around the full circumference of the horn returning to the main slide in similar fashion to the long pipes found on Kölner model horns while the shorter branch from the main slide goes to the third valve. This is opposite from the 1875 Roth horn.  The label on this horn is stamped into the bottom surface of the bell, however on the 1875 horn it is engraved on the garland.  There are also some dimensional differences from the 1875 horn. The bell diameters and throats are comparable, although the vee gussets are somewhat different with the newer horn a little more than half the size of the older.  The bore on the newer one is also somewhat smaller.
The label (right) reads "O.PAGANI & BRO. / NEW YORK 1 [star/tuning fork logo] / PREMIATA FABBRICA / FERDo. ROTH / MILANO / * / ITALIA/*"  The star atop a tuning fork is a trademark of Ferdnando Roth.  Roth was born in Adorf, Germany in 1815 and died in Milan, Italy in 1898.  He worked first for Pelitti, and later as a foreman in Prague and Vienna.  The establishment of his Premiata Fabbrica in Milan is given variously as 1838, and 1842.  Roth instruments were exhibited in Florence (1861), Santiago (1875),  Milan (1881, 45 brass instruments, and 1894).  An 1878 city directory lists the address at vis S. Giovanni in Conca 9, Milano. In 1892 a one-page catalogue was issued, "Premiata fabbrica d'instrumenti musicali in ottone e legno Ferdinando Roth."   In 1894 he advertised as a specialist in saxophones and claimed to be the original supplier of Aida trumpets made according to Verdi's instructions.  In 1894, blind and in his eighties, he put his son-in-law, Antonio Bottali, in charge and on his death in 1898 the firm became Roth & Bottali.

The late Rev. Dr. Wilhelm Bernoulli estimated that this horn was made circa 1875.  Dr. Bernoulli cited that Prof. Karl Burri, of Berne, has a similar instrument made in Milan and that Prof. Burri also had seen the horn players of the Carabinieri Band pointing their instruments in the air.  Dr. Bernoulli also suggest that it might have been designed for cavalry.

Prof. Kurt Janetzky agreed with the 1875 estimate and stated that right handed horns such as this were not uncommon.  He also agreed that it was probably designed for cavalry use since it would be impossible for mounted troops to use their hands in the bell.  In their book, Das Horn (p.66), Profs. Janetzky and Bruchle state that it was A.F. Sattler (Leipzig, 1819) who moved the valves to the left hand which made it possible again to use the right hand for stopping and other hand horn technique.  That is to say that the first valved horns by Stoetzel had the valves placed on the right, the same side as the bell.  This also indicates that from the beginning the valved horn was considered (at least by its inventors) as a fully chromatic instrument.  Hence the valves were not intended to be a method for changing tuning crooks.

The, illustration shown above is from Antonio Tosoroni 's Metodo per corno a tre pistoni (1840).  Text on the bell reads "Riedl di Vienna" identifying Josef Riedl  in Vienna as the maker.  The valves are identified 1,2, and 3 on the finger plates in the usual order and the legend below the horn reads
 "A 1o. Pistone di Una Voce
   ' '   2. Pistone di Mezzo Voce
   ' '   3. Pistone di  Una Voce e Mezzo"
( With first valve by one tone/ second valve by half tone/ third valve by one tone and a half)

The illustration at right is from Francesco Paoli 's Metodo teorico-pratico per il corno a macchina da potersi insegnare anche a quelli che non suonano il detto strumento (1855) courtesy of Eric Brummitt showing the manner in which the horn is held.

Very special thanks to Jeffrey Stockham for providing excellent photos and provenance of this horn.

1. Brothers Octavio (Octave) Pagani (1881 - 1956) and Angelo Pagani (1884 - 1957)  arrived in New York on November 16, 1903. According to one source "Octavio a young Italian nobleman and army lieutenant, resigned his commission and emigrated to New York City. In search of a profitable business (and possessing capital from his brothers' savings, he opened the firm O. Pagani Music Dealers in New York" (Squeeze This, p. 67). The brothers established their first music shop at 160 Prince St. Manhattan, primarily selling phonographs.  By 1911 a second shop was opened at 292 Bleecker Street, and within three years it had moved across the street to its final location 289 Bleecker Street where it remained in operation for over sixty years.  In 1917 they advertised as "Importers of Italian Band Instruments and Piano Accordions, Mandolin and Guitar Makers, Music Publishers." Focus soon shifted to accordion sales in 1818 they met the famous accordion artist, Pietro Deiro and persuaded him to write an accordion method book. With the success of that and other publications, the accordion and its literature soon became the main focus of the O. Pagani and Bro. enterprise as shown in a 1922 advertisement.  Octavio Pagani retired in 1954 and sold the building and business to longtime store associate, Theresa Costello.  Octavio died on December 15, 1956 and his brother Angelo died only three months later on February 22, 1957, but the company O. Pagani and Bro. lived on for another twenty-five years.  Around 1980 the lower floor was converted to a restaurant named "Vanessa" while the music business continued upstairs by mail-order only. In 2013 a new restaurant more suitably named "Pagani" moved into what is still remembered as the "Pagani Building."   


Jacobson, Marion, Squeeze This!: A Cultural History of the Accordion in America, University of Illinois Press, March 15, 2012 [citing "O. Pagani", The Accordion World, November, 1936, p. 8]

Waterhouse, William, The New Langwill Index of Wind Instrument Makers and Inventors, pub.Tony Bingham, London 1993

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