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Thread: Besson 3-Valve New Standard question

  1. #1

    Besson 3-Valve New Standard question

    There is a lot of good information on this forum from very knowledgeable members about the history of the Besson/B&H Imperial/New Standard/Sovereign history, but one question I don't seem to be able find in those discussions is this:
    What was the purpose of the 3-valve compensating New Standard euphonium?

    I bought one in December and have been enjoying it a lot, and I've been curious to know more about the model. Was there ever a 3 valve Imperial? What was the intended market for a three valve compensating euphonium? I think the majority of brass and concert band music doesn't really require extended low range for euphonium so maybe it was for section players as opposed to soloists? Were they popular in brass bands? Concert bands?

    Any info/opinions you can share would be an enjoyable read for me, thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Here is a link to a 1958 Besson catalogue - refer to ‘Besson Pages 16, 17, and 20’. The 3-valve compensating euphonium models and patented compensating system is described on these pages.
    David Shinn
    Peninsula Concert Band
    Yorktown, Virginia

    1971 Besson ‘New Standard’ 181 Euphonium (3+1 compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1962 Besson ‘New Standard’ 176 Euphonium (3-valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1979 Besson 'New Standard' 168 Baritone (3-valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC5S
    1927 Holton Double Bell Euphonium (5-valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC5S

  3. The 3 valve compensating Besson/Boosey&Hawkes euphonium was often used as an intermediate instrument purchased by high schools here in the US during the late 1950s and 1960s as an alternative to the 3 and 4 valve American horns from Conn, King, Holton, etc. Instead of the upright configuration used exclusively in the UK, many of these horns had a rotatable bell forward configuration. While the 3 valve Besson had a superior sound in the hands of the right player to any American horns (3 or 4 valve), it was very awkward to march with. When using a lyre and "flip folders" that needed to be flipped with the left hand, it was almost impossible to hold the instrument with just the right hand since the horn did not have a "false tube" like the 4 valve horns, but instead just a thumb hook attached to the first valve. Also, when moving from parade rest or non-playing to actual playing the instrument, onbe had to flip the horn across the front of the body rather than just lift it like an American style horn. Most University/College bands started shifting to 4 valve euphoniums by the 1960s, so despite the wonderful playability of the 3 valve compensating Besson, they tended to be limited to secondary school usage. Universities like Ohio State continued to use silver plated American style bell front horns (3 valve I think) in the marching band for a long time (and may still today).

    I played 4 valve Connstellations, 3 valve Bessons (upright and bell front), and 4 valve B&H Imperials from 1965 through 1974. My opinions above are based on quite a bit of experience.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  4. #4
    Thanks for the quick replies David and Doug, I suspected you might both weigh in! I appreciate both of your insights. To Doug's point about the 3-valve Besson not having the false tube behind the valves, that was probably the toughest change for me ergonomically to get used to.


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