Quiet Interesting Horn Stuff

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Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra
Voyage of Musical Discovery - an education series by the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra.

"the horn is like, bread of life to music." Thank you Richard Gill

The video will start at 15.11 and have a listen to the horn related discussion through to about 17.45. Click on the Youtube link once the video has started to view the whole thing, it's worth it.

Film at Angel Place Recital Hall in 2017. Anneke Scott & Graham Nichols - horn

View Hector McDonald's send off from The Vienna Symphony Orchestra after 30 + years as Principal Horn HERE

Apollo Ensemble - Sinfonie in C Maria Theresia

Stefan Blonk, Hylke Rozema ~ Horns

"Musically, the symphony has a regal sound and dignity that does entitle it to bear an empress's name. The high horn parts in C (as written) scale to dizzying heights with audacity and daring. (For that reason, this writer prefers that the work be played without trumpets, not only so as not to obscure the horns, but also to make their parts more exposed and thus to add some nervousness to the sound.) Haydn creates a veritable drama in his alternation of mood between the brightness of the parts with high horn parts and some lengthy shadowy sections.

Charlie Rouse and Julius Watkins - Full Album

Dennis Brain Interview -- Rare

"Dennis Brain, French Horn solost, interviewed by Roy Plomley on August 13, 1956 for the BBC radio program Desert Island Discs"

Wynton Marsalis takes the Sarah´s Music Horn Challenge

"passive french horn iphone speaker"

(MRI) Chamber Music with Sarah Willis

The Australian World Orchestra Horns play Waltzing Matilda on Sarah´s Music!

(l to r) Sarah Willis (Berlin Philharmonic), Casey Rippon (Bavarian State Opera), Rachael Silver (Sydney Symphony), Saul Lewis (Melbourne Symphony), Andrew Bain (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Ben Jacks (Sydney Symphony)

"How playing an instrument benefits your brain - Anita Collins"

"Insights into the company Mundstückbau Bruno Tilz and the production of our mouthpieces."

At the 2014 Canberra International Music Festival, the low horns were confonted with this note (old notation) in Music of the Spheres by Rued Laanggard....the fundamental on the F horn

Professional French Horn Players in Danger of Developing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Sep. 24, 2013 - Professional French horn players may need to seriously consider adopting effective strategies to prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). A new study published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) found further evidence that French horn players are one of the most at-risk groups of developing NIHL among professional orchestral musicians.

"Using both conservative and lenient criteria for hearing loss and correcting for age, we found that between 11 percent and 22 percent of the participants showed some form of hearing loss typical of NIHL," said study investigator Ian O'Brien, MPhil, MAudSA, CCP, a doctoral degree candidate at the University of Sydney and a professional French horn player. "Looking at those aged 40 years or younger and also correcting for age, the number of horn players with an apparent hearing loss rose to between 17 percent and 33 percent."

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of Sydney at the 2010 annual gathering of the International Horn Society in Brisbane, Australia, examined the hearing of 144 French horn players. The investigators performed audiometric assessments and measured sound levels and hearing thresholds to determine if the horn players were at risk of harmful sound exposure. O'Brien and his colleagues also administered a questionnaire to investigate the horn players' safety practices and attitudes about hearing conservation.

"We were surprised to find that only 18 percent of participants reported using any form of hearing protection," said lead investigator Wayne Wilson, PhD, MAudSA, CCP, a senior lecturer in audiology at the University of Queensland. "Even within that 18 percent, the use of hearing protection appears to be inadequate with 81 percent of these participants reporting their frequency of use as 'sometimes' and 50 percent reporting they use generic, foam or other inferior forms of protection."

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), when individuals are exposed to loud noise over a long period of time, symptoms of NIHL will increase gradually. The NIDCD recommends preventing NIHL by regularly using hearing protectors such as earplugs or earmuffs. Designed specifically for musicians such as French horn players, these devices are commercially available. "Our findings also reinforce the need to educate horn players, their mentors and audiologists about the need to protect hearing and how best to achieve this while still enabling musicians to play to the highest level," said O'Brien. "Even mild hearing loss can result in difficulties discriminating pitch, abnormal loudness growth and tinnitus, all of which can affect a musician's ability to perform, subsequently jeopardizing his or her livelihood."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there have been nearly 125,000 cases of permanent hearing loss in workers since 2004. In addition to hearing loss, exposure to high levels of noise can result in physical and psychological stress, reduced productivity, poor communication, and accidents and injuries caused by a worker's inability to hear warning signals.

According to Torey Nalbone, PhD, CIH, associate professor at the University of Tyler, Texas, and an AIHA noise exposure expert, "Traditionally, we have examined rock and roll artists and their hearing loss, but few think of the hearing loss experienced by symphonic orchestra players. The presence of loss of hearing acuity in the ranges documented in this study demonstrates that orchestral musicians should take a more active role in conserving their hearing."

He adds, "The appropriate use of hearing protection devices can and will reduce the incidence of NIHL. This could be an important attitude and habit to change for these horn players and others in an orchestral setting, especially when they depend on their hearing for a major portion of their success during performances."

Journal Reference: Wayne J. Wilson, Ian O'Brien, Andrew P. Bradley. The audiological health of horn players. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 2013; : 130729062928002 DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2013.818227

Ian O'Brien is Principal Third Horn of The Queensland Symphony Orchestra

"MAudSt MPhil BMus(Hons) DipAudEng MAudSA(CCP) Ian O'Brien is a musician, researcher, audiologist and a former sound engineer"

P.D.Q. Bach (Peter Schickele) - "New horizons in music appreciation" (Beethoven)

....featuring Bobby Corno on 1st Chair

Be Inspired....

Sydney Symphony Horns, 1950

Wow, these Cazzini horns are still going...this one recently sold in QLD

The French Horn, That Wild Card of the Orchestra

Published: August 12, 2008 The New York Times

Orchestral instruments don't come more treacherous than the French horn, either for the musicians who play it, or, when the going gets rough, for the listeners who find themselves within earshot. Sometimes you wonder how the instrument found its way from the hunting lodge to the orchestra.

At the Mostly Mozart Festival in recent weeks, the intractable early version of the horn has made its way into the Rose Theater as a series of period-instrument bands from Germany, England and Italy performed music ranging from Italian Baroque choral works to Mozart opera. When these groups were at their best, a listener whose fondness for period instruments dates to the 1960s could reflect on how far the performance standard has risen since.

In those days period ensembles that sounded vigorous on disc often proved anemic in concert, and the instruments' antique technology was regularly blamed for mediocre performances. Nowadays, the performances are more typically extroverted and expressive, and although period instruments, by definition, have not been modernized to make them easier to play, listeners are no longer asked to consider their difficulty when a performance goes awry.

Except, that is, when the horn notes crack and slither. The horn remains the wild card in period-instrument orchestras, and in modern ones too. And if you find yourself cringing when horn players falter badly - as I did on Aug. 5, when Concerto Italiano played three Vivaldi concertos with prominent horn parts - caveats about the instrument's intransigence come quickly to mind.

It's worth understanding the challenges hornists face. In its 17th- and 18th-century form, the horn is basically just a long, flared pipe wound into two or three coils, with a mouthpiece on the end. What it lacks, compared with today's horn, is the valve mechanism: the complex tubing and finger keys at the center of a modern horn that let hornists play chromatically and in different keys.

Without recourse to valves, hornists are most at home in the relatively few notes in the overtone series that come naturally to a bit of coiled metal: mainly, the notes you hear in hunting and military calls. As the music grows more complex, the technical demands escalate. One resource hornists have is hand-stopping: by putting a hand inside the instrument's bell, they can flatten the pitch to produce chromatic notes.

When everything goes right, hornists can work miracles. You need only have heard James Sommerville, the Boston Symphony's principal hornist, play Elliott Carter's Horn Concerto at Tanglewood a few weeks ago to know how chromatic (and lyrical) a horn line can be. But you can see the potential for pitch problems. And a bit of condensation from a player's breath adhering to the inside of a coil can lead to cracked notes, or "clams."

As is often the case, when Concerto Italiano's hornists were good, they were great. Their sound had a fascinatingly gritty texture, much closer to the horn's hunting-party origins than to the mellow, warm sound of a modern instrument. But when they were off - oh, dear, what a mess!

Strangely, some believe that period horn playing is meant to sound thus. When I was in music school, I had a job in a record store and would sometimes stay after hours to listen to new releases. One was a period-instrument recording of Handel's "Water Music" on which the horns were consistently flat. When I crinkled my nose, the store's manager said, dismissively:

"Oh, you don't understand. It's only because of showoffs like Don Smithers" - a brilliant Baroque trumpeter who was also my music history teacher at the time - "that people think these instruments can be played in tune. But they aren't meant to be."

I didn't buy that argument then, and having heard many superb Baroque hornists, I find it less tenable now.

For some reason - maybe it's a little-documented, mouth-drying effect of global warming - the last season was particularly rough for hornists. In a concert of Brahms and Schumann works at the 92nd Street Y in December, the usually reliable David Jolley became ensnared in every tangle a hornist can encounter (or create), including serious balance issues in ensemble pieces. And visiting orchestras seemed more prone than usual to horn flaws.

But surely the most catastrophic horn performance of the season - of many seasons, for that matter - was at the New York Philharmonic in March, when Alan Gilbert, conducting his first concert with the orchestra since having been appointed its next music director, opened his program with Haydn's Symphony No. 48, a work with two prominent and perilous horn parts.

The Philharmonic has long been action central for horn troubles; its principal player, Philip Myers, is wildly inconsistent, and the rest of the section is also accident-prone. Much of the time Mr. Myers's playing is squarely on pitch, shapely and warm, and when it is, it's everything you want in a French horn line. But he cracks, misses or slides into pitches often enough that when the Philharmonic plays a work with a prominent horn line, you brace yourself and wonder if he'll make it.

The Haydn symphony was a real clambake.

Mentioning hornists' failings in reviews invariably brings plenty of e-mail messages, often from people who did not hear the performances but feel moved to defend a player's reputation. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these correspondents have variations on the word horn ("corno" or "horncall," for example) in their e-mail addresses, and they usually identify themselves as hornists, as if their addresses didn't make that clear.

In the case of the Haydn, some offered amazing conspiracy theories. The most interesting was that Mr. Gilbert had programmed the work knowing that it would be botched, so that he would later have reason to replace Mr. Myers. (Mr. Gilbert doesn't seem that Machiavellian.) Another blamed the orchestra's management for allowing Mr. Gilbert to program it.

Still others offered technical excuses: that the work requires a variety of horn that Mr. Myers doesn't play, for instance. (That an orchestra's programming is announced months in advance - ample time to deal with such technical problems or lobby to have the work replaced - seems not to have troubled anyone.)

Of about a dozen e-mail messages, all but one correspondent found someone other than the players to blame for the performance. A few blamed me: I am supposedly a raging cornophobe with some deep-seated resentment of horns and hornists.

To the contrary. I played the horn briefly as a teenager, somewhere between the violin and the trombone (which had a nicer bite), and I gave up brass instruments only when I realized that continuing would mean spending weekends marching around at football games in a dopey band uniform. It was the late 1960s; that kind of thing just wasn't done.

Nearly a decade later, as a composition student, I revisited the instrument and what it could (ideally) do when I wrote an unaccompanied horn piece and a quartet for horn, violin, bassoon and percussion (what was I thinking?) for a hornist friend.

I like the horn, honest. And I know how difficult it is to get a good, centered, well-tuned sound out of it.

But here's the thing about musical performance: It's all difficult. It's meant to be. Composers write, and have always written, music that pushes the limits of technique. And if you're onstage in a professional capacity, you're expected to be able to negotiate it. That's the least audiences expect, and it's a precondition for what they buy tickets for: to be moved by an interpretation; to savor its nuances and to hear something revelatory, whether the work is new or familiar.

If, instead, they end up wincing at mistuned notes and reminding themselves how tough the instruments are, they've been pushed out of the zone. And at that point, no amount of rationalization will make the performance anything but a sow's ear.

Jerome Ashby (1956-2007)

Jerome A. Ashby began his tenure with the New York Philharmonic as Associate Principal Horn in July of 1979 at the invitation of Zubin Mehta. He made his Philharmonic solo debut in April 1982. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Ashby began his studies in the New York City Public Schools. After attending the High School of Performing Arts, he attended The Juilliard School where he was a student of former Philharmonic Principal Horn James Chambers. An active recitalist and chamber musician, Mr. Ashby appeared at music festivals around the world. He performed with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and performed regularly with New York Philharmonic Ensembles. Mr. Ashby was a faculty member of The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, The Curtis Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival School.
Dear hornarama colleagues,
It is with great sadness that I convey to all of you the news of the death yesterday of my dear friend Jerome Ashby.  He was 51 years old.
When I was in the US in April last year, among other reasons on an invitation from Jerome to give master classes to his students at the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, Jerome informed me that he had prostate cancer.  He was receiving successful treatment at the time, but his condition had been deteriorating since the middle of this year.
Jerome Ashby studied at the Manhattan High School of Music and Art with the great New York free-lance hornist Brooks Tillitson and later, concurrently with me, at Juilliard with Joseph Singer and James Chambers.  As students in New York we worked together as the horn section of the Brooklyn Philharmonia and were members of a horn quartet that premiered many new works including my jazz horn quartet arrangements of Beatles songs.  We were appointed as co-principal hornists with the Orquesta Filarmonica de la Unam in Mexico City in 1976, where we worked together for 1 year.   In 1979 he joined the New York Philharmonic as associate principal.  We have remained best of friends since our youth and I was also very close to his family.
Among his many accomplishments Jerome performed the world premiere of Mozart's '5th Horn Concerto', a work that was reconstructed from sketches that Mozart left behind.
I have attached 2 photos taken during my visit last year, one with our good friend, jazz trumpeter Earl Gardner, the other taken during my master class at the Curtis Institute.
-Lee Bracegirdle

presented to
6 August 2007, Capital Theatre, Sydney

Born in Melbourne in 1931, Barry Tuckwell studied violin and piano with his father and older brother.

He was a chorister at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney, serving as organist there. He studied the horn at thirteen with Alan Mann of the Sydney Conservatorium. One year later he was playing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. During his three years with the SSO he performed every major concerto in the standard repertory.

A brilliant musician, he was inevitably drawn to greater opportunities overseas, and he moved to London. There he studied informally with the great horn virtuoso Dennis Brain. Though Tuckwell was influenced by Brain, he also drew inspiration from the recordings of jazz trombonist Tommy Dorsey. Tuckwell's sound was different and distinctive.

Tuckwell's performing progress was astonishing: from Assistant First Horn in the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, via the Scottish National Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony, to Principal Horn of the London Symphony Orchestra at the age of only 24. During his 13 years with the LSO he was the musicians' representative on its board and Chairman for six years.

In 1968 Tuckwell resigned from the LSO to pursue a career as a conductor and horn soloist. Many composers have written works for him, including Oliver Knussen and Richard Rodney Bennett.

The most recorded of all horn players, Tuckwell has won three Grammy awards. He has been president of the International and British Horn Societies, and patron of the Melbourne International Festival of Brass. For four years from 1980 Tuckwell was Chief Conductor of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

An expert in instrument design, Tuckwell has worked with makers such as Holton and Lawson. He was Professor of Horn at the Royal Academy of Music in London for ten years, artist-in-residence at New Hampshire's Dartmouth College, Pomona College in California, and the Stratford Festival in Ontario.

Tuckwell is also a noted editor of horn music, and has written two books on the techniques of horn playing.

Tuckwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1965 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1992. He was made an honorary Doctor of Music by the University of Sydney and was awarded distinctions by the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In January 1997 he gave his farewell concerts as a horn soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. After several attempts at retirement, Tuckwell now lives in Melbourne. In April 2006, he returned to the concert platform to perform Schumann's Konzertstück for Four Horns in Melbourne with the city's longest running amateur orchestra, the Zelman Symphony.

After being presented with the award, Barry Tuckwell then performed the Rondo from Mozart's Third Horn Concerto with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.


Ed Allen ( Principal Horn of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) recently performed the Richard Strauss Concerto No. 1 in the historic Town Hall at Martinborough, New Zealand. The concert raised $15,000 for the new medical centre. Ed will be performing the Alfred Hill Horn Concerto on July 15 in Wellington.