What’s a cimbasso?

A cimbasso is similar in range to a tuba or a contrabass trombone.

Verdi’s ballet music from Macbeth is scored to include a cimbasso — similar in range to a tuba or a contrabass trombone — and it was a common banda instrument that Verdi regularly wrote for in his operas.

While it is possible to use a fourth trombone in place of a cimbasso, Riccardo Muti’s preference is to use one where indicated in a score. For one tour performance, the Royal Swedish Opera’s tuba/cimbasso player Carl Jakobsson graciously lent his cimbasso to CSO Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny.

To ensure that the special instrumental color of the cimbasso would be part of future CSO performances of Italian opera and other repertoire, the Orchestra purchased a Lätzsch cimbasso in 2016, thanks to special contributions from Riccardo Muti and CSOA supporters Leslie Henner Burns and Beth Lodal.

Built by Germany’s leading maker of trombones, the CSO’s cimbasso has subsequently been played by Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny in performances led by Muti, ranging from Verdi’s Falstaff in Orchestra Hall to Verdi’s Requiem in Orchestra Hall and on tour in Tokyo and Vienna. 

For more about the cimbasso, this site features a history of the instrument.