This coming Sunday at 2:30 I will be playing on my faculty recital at ASU the most difficult piece ever written for the horn! At least according to the liner notes of the “blue CD,” John Cerminaro, Horn, on the Crystal label. It tells us right there:
En Forêt by Eugene Bozza (1905-1992 [oops, a typo, he died in 1991]) is considered by many to be the most difficult piece ever written for the horn. Intended as a test composition for graduate horn students at the Paris Conservatory, it displays every problematic element of horn playing imaginable, including bounding intervals, rapid-fire lip trills, sonorous glissandos, and intricate hand-stopping techniques, all over four octaves from high C to pedal C.
It is a great piece, one of our best works for horn and piano, and challenging to play but not to the extent that the program note writer gushes. I could easily find you much more difficult works. But it has been fun working again on those “bounding intervals, rapid-fire lip trills, sonorous glissandos, and intricate hand-stopping techniques” mentioned.
[Also, I should note that I am not doing the double pedal C that Mr. Cerminaro added to the work in his recording, mentioned specifically in the liner note quoted above].
I am playing other works on the recital as well, including especially the Rheinberger Sonata, which I will perform on a single B-flat horn. This would have been the instrument that Rheinberger had in mind when composing this work in the late nineteenth century, before the invention of the double horn. The second half will have a number of surprises including Bach performed on Wagner tuba. If you are in the area do check out this recital, it looks to be one of the most enjoyable recitals that I have ever given.