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I was overlooking Peter Tschaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and I came across one of the parts being the 1st and 2nd Tenors. May I add that there are already 1st and 2nd Alto Horns, so what is this referring to?

PS: It seems it is in Bb if that Helps any, as the Alto horn is in Eb.

  • That must be the tenor trombones, which are non-transposing. The alto is transposed, which is why it's in a different key. May 29, 2023 at 16:15
  • Since this is an arrangement for military band, it could be different members of the saxhorn family.
    – guidot
    May 29, 2023 at 16:34
  • On second glance, it mentions something baritone, so it might be more likely to refer to saxophones. I'm not entirely sure what "3rd Alto, Barit." refers to though. May 29, 2023 at 17:04
  • 1
    Obviously a Big Beautiful Tenor.
    – pipe
    May 30, 2023 at 13:38
  • Since all notes up to 2nd line, bar 4 (after the quarter rests below the system) are cue notes, not much can be deduced from the key signature. It may be transposed.
    – guidot
    May 31, 2023 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


The score is from a version of the Overture arranged for military band. The "tenors" are tenor horns. The "Alto/Bari." reference at the beginning is indicating that the small notes are cues from the alto and baritone horn parts. The tenors come in midway through the second system, at the forte sign.

Alto horn

Alto horn
(Image source)

Tenor horn

Tenor horn
(Image source: Wikipedia, Tenor horn)

Baritone horn

Baritone horn
(Image source: Wikipedia, Baritone horn)

  • 1
    It's worth noting that you are using the American terminology. In British bands alto, tenor and baritone horns are called tenor horns, baritones and euphoniums respectively.
    – PiedPiper
    May 29, 2023 at 22:02
  • 2
    @PiedPiper Those terms are also commonly used in the US.
    – Aaron
    May 29, 2023 at 22:10
  • 2
    The top two images look pretty close to identical to me, I suppose the difference would be in scale? Might have to see them side by side in one picture, or with a common object in the shot for comparison... May 30, 2023 at 13:42
  • Yeah, confirmed - they are, in fact, the same image. One of them (couldn't tell you which) was scaled and color-balanced, but if you overlay them on top of each other and rescale to fit, they are a perfect match. The image is actually an Alto, according to Wikipedia, even though it's on the Tenor Horn page. May 30, 2023 at 14:52
  • Or - hmm, it's apparently rather more complicated. Seems there's some debate over whether there's an actual difference or if the same instrument is called an Alto in some places and a Tenor in others, even though they are differently tuned... May 30, 2023 at 14:58

I have figured out the difference between a Tenor and an Alto horn.

"Alto horn" refers to an Alto Eb horn in the saxhorn family, while "Tenor horn" refers to the Bb variant of the Wagner tuba or the Tenor Wagner Tuba.

Tenor Tuben was used during the Late 19th Century and Early 20th Century, while Tchaikovsky wrote this in 1880, around 20 years after the invention of the Tenor Tuben.

It's doubtful Tchaikovsky wrote eight parts for just one instrument, the Alto Horn, and named them differently as Alto Horn 1-4 and Tenor Horn 1-4.

I haven't heard of any instrument other than the Eb Alto Saxhorn that goes by "tenor horn." Additionally, the Tenor Tuben is in Bb, which is consistent with the notation shown in the sheet music.

In conclusion, I think that the Tenor Tuben is the instrument that is called upon in this piece of music.

  • You're saying those are the instruments called for in the score? If yes, it would be super helpful to add to your post how you figured it out.
    – Aaron
    Jun 1, 2023 at 8:00
  • Agreed; this was an intriguing question and an intriguing answer, and documentation would be helpful. Jun 1, 2023 at 16:39

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