The Top Ten Orchestral Works for Horn (the last one might surprise you!)


I recently had a question come in on what were the most important horn excerpts. Back when I was first at Arizona State I decided to sort this out once and for all, the results of which were published as “A New ICSOM Audition List Survey” in the October, 2002 issue of The Horn Call. It was a survey of 88 audition lists from major orchestras, ICSOM being the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, a player conference in the American Federation of Musicians, which at that time included the top 49 orchestras in the United States (but currently represents the performers of the top 51 orchestras, their website is here). In alphabetical order the ten works requested the most frequently on their audition lists were:

  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 3
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
  • Brahms: Symphony No. 4
  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
  • Strauss: Don Juan
  • Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
  • Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel
  • Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
  • Wagner: Das Rheingold Prelude

Till-snipYou may be asking yourself, what about Brahms 1, 2, and 3, Mahler 5, the Short Call, and many other works. Of course, there are many other great orchestral works than those listed above; these ten just showed up the most often on major orchestra audition lists in my sample.

I have a pair of longer versions of the results of the survey in my studio site which lay things in a bit more detail for those learning excerpts. The long version has suggested locations to learn in these and many other works, and the short version is more of a checklist of excerpts to learn. Check them both out, and for sure get familiar with these works if you are a fan of orchestral horn music.

UPDATE: I now have an even shorter horn study list that is a great starting point if you are just getting going on excerpts. It may be found here and is divided into excerpts for Basic and Intermediate level study, based on audition lists for top level music schools.

AND for the best online horn excerpt resource see our Horn Matters PDF library.

University of Horn Matters