Spheres of Influence and a Survey: Have you Heard of this Horn Player?


Within the realm of Hollywood and famous movie actors, fame and influence boil down to a popularity contest of who is the “hottest” or most badly-behaved or most marketable at any given moment. The famed Oscar awards for example, are more about promotion and hype than an earnest recognition of talent.

While the field of horn playing is mercifully not as nefarious and fickle as Hollywood, the advent of the Internet has certainly changed the mechanics of fame from what it was a mere generation ago.

Before the Internet influential entities in the horn world were recognized primarily through their recordings, solo appearances, printed words, or otherwise, by word-of-mouth. Today, this influence exists on an entirely different playing field; while these traditional means remain relevant, the Internet has added an entirely new variable to the equation.

Spheres of influence are no longer relegated to principal horn players in major symphony orchestras, to famous teachers, or to musicians that have taken the time to make recordings or to write their thoughts down into books and trade journals.

Looking back

Back in the ’70’s when I went to my first international horn convention I had no idea who most of the featured clinicians were. Afterwards, I not only knew who they were but most recently I was able to identify them all without hesitation – even some 30 years later – in this is artist’s sketch at James Boldin’s site.

A who’s who of influential horn players from 30 years ago.

The Internet – and its increasing accessibility to more and more people worldwide – has radically changed the traditional framework of fame and notoriety in the horn world. People like myself for example, who no one would have heard of 15 years ago, can become widely known by cultivating a body of work online – as I do here at Horn Matters.

The criteria for the survey

To better understand how this dynamic has changed I have created an informal survey that includes some of the current movers and shakers in our field. The names were chosen based on a loose criteria:

  • What is their body of work, current position or length of career?
  • Do they have a web site or are they on YouTube?
  • Are they living and actively working in the field?

The big picture

If you feel that a particular name was left out please do not take it personally. I did not spend a great deal of time sweating out the details. Also, I am not trolling or phishing for personal accolades or praise. (That would be a trivial exercise without any purpose to readers.)

The point of this survey is the bigger questions:

  • How has the Internet changed our perception of fame?
  • How do the young and old compare under that perception?

As a final thought I would add that this survey is not intended to be a popularity contest or a competition, but rather it is an earnest attempt to explore this topic beyond the surface.

(The survey is now closed.)

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The results of the survey are here.

University of Horn Matters