Memories of Horn Calls Past: My First Issue of The Horn Call, Part I—Notes on the Front Matter

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I joined the IHS when I was a senior in high school. In those days long before E-mail or Horn Matters the journal of the International Horn Society, The Horn Call, was a literally a lifeline for horn players, especially so for someone like me out in a small town in Kansas. My first issue was from October, 1979, and I can see that it in retrospect certainly impacted me deeply as a student of the horn.

Before turning to the journal itself, the question should be put out there of why I joined. Honestly I don’t know. I suspect either a local horn player in college said to join or my horn teacher said to join. I think someone put a brochure of some sort in my hands. That year was the first year for the first Executive Secretary of the IHS Ruth Hokanson, so I expect that someone locally got a mailing for prospective members that was passed on to me and I joined.

At that time Douglas Hill was president of the IHS. As an aside, just a few days ago I saw advertised in The Music Vacancy List his longtime position as horn professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison—an era is ending, 2011 is the year he retires! At that time he was thirty some years younger and provided a good chunk of the actual content of the journal and I believe had expended quite a bit of energy to get the society much more organized than it had been to that date.

The journal itself was at that time in booklet form and half as big as the current journal; it always had some variation on the cover design seen here. While the cover is different today some things never change as for example the first advertisement was a full page ad for Holton (“Phil Farkas designed the perfect horn for Mozart, Brahms, and Wagner”) and other makers of the time were all well represented.

The first real text to read was five pages of letters to the editor. A number of them were from players whose names should remain recognizable to readers of the present day, including Randy Gardner, James Winter, Mason Jones, and Norman Schweikert. After that there was a lengthy section of “Mansur’s Answers” from the editor, Paul Mansur. He began with a Biblical quote and a reflection on the workshop that had been held that previous summer at U.S.C. in Los Angeles.

“Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns.” (Zechariah 1:18)

I am not a prophet, a son of a prophet, nor even a herdsman or the seventh son of a herdsman. But I assure you, I have seen and heard a multitude of horns. The XIth International Horn Workshop was thoroughly gratifying, uplifting, and exciting event. There were some marvelous performances. There were, again, diversities of styles and tonal concepts presented as models in review. Technical data and acoustical information were supplied in abundance, all quite significant, pertinent, and valuable.

For me, however, the intrinsic and enduring values are derived from persons and personalities. The human interaction process, the open, unreserved sharing of self, the caring for others and the giving; the open gift of soul, heart, and mind is the essence of the unique character of the I.H.S. and the Horn Workshops. The effect upon me, and many others, is assuredly quite euphoric. I shall make no apology whatever for the exultation of this sheer joy!

He continues to discuss some of those personalities, among those Wendell Hoss, Vitali Buyanovsky, and Valerie Polekh, but probably the most familiar to readers today was Hans Pizka, at least if you follow the “Memphis” horn list. Pizka had at the workshop performed Strauss II and the Strauss Andante on a Vienna horn. Mansur noted that the Andante performance moved him literally to tears and he added

Hans Pizka is not just the name of a hornist who lives 7000 miles away and who has a penchant for stirring up a controversy any longer. He is a person. He is a fellow horn player and a fellow human.

In other general news in his column I note the birth of a daughter to Rebecca Root, who I would later study with privately, and also the winners of the now defunct Heldenleben Horn Competition were Corbin Wagner on valve horn (presently in the Detroit Symphony) and Jean Rife on hand horn (presently at the New England Conservatory). Mansur also looked back on the first ten years of the society. The first newsletter had “boasted of some 150 paid members” but as of 1979 they had over 1,600 paid members.

The closing section of the front matter was from President Douglas Hill on “The I.H.S. and the Workshops” with the subtitle “How We Relate.” His opening paragraph gives a bit of an overview of the topic that gives a much clearer idea the relationship historically between the society and the workshops. We tend to think in terms of the society putting on workshops for members, but that is not how it started for us; the International Horn Society, as he explains, grew out of an existing event, the Annual Horn Workshop.

It seems necessary to briefly discuss our relationship to the Annual International Horn Workshops. The tradition of such an event began in Tallahassee, Florida before there was an International Horn Society. It was from the strong feelings of fellowship experienced at the early workshops that the foundation of a society such as ours grew. So, in contrast to the relationships found between other instrumental societies and their workshops, we, the I.H.S., are a product rather than a parent of the Annual Horn Workshop tradition.

When we return to this series it will continue looking more directly at the articles I read and re-read closely as I started on my path as a serious student of the horn, with an underlying point being there is a lot of great content out there buried offline in old journals if you look for it.

Continue to Part II

University of Horn Matters