Horn Repertoire Week 5: The Descant Horn and Approaches to Baroque Literature Today


One goal this semester is to use repertoire as not only a broad overview of history but also to look at performance of literature that is encountered often by high level performers but is not often studied prior to a student arriving at this course. Thus, this week our focus is on works that are frequently performed today from the Baroque where the use of a descant horn might be appropriate.

A brief introduction to the topic of descant and triple horns may be found here:

But a broader introduction to this topic is found in my E-book, now in an updated 2nd edition as a Kindle ePublication,

Specifically, for this class session you will want to read/scan Chapter 1, an overview on playing descant and triple horns, and Chapter 3, with a focus on the following works:

  • Bach Brandenburg Concerto
  • Bach B-Minor Mass
  • Telemann Concerto in D
  • Forster Concerto in Eb
  • And other Baroque works

From the introduction of Chapter 3 I would close with the following passage to set the mood of the discussion this week.

While preferences will vary from player to player as to which works are suitable for performance on a descant or triple horn, there are a number of works that I would certainly prefer to perform on a horn with a high F side. A common thread between all the works discussed in this volume is high, exposed horn writing of a generally light character; these characteristics are frequently encountered in the florid, melodic high tessitura (“clarino”) writing common in the late Baroque period.

Next week we move on to the topics of the early Classical horn.

Continue to Week 6 of Repertoire Course

This is week 5 of a fourteen week course in horn repertoire, the second semester of a broad overview of horn repertoire, performance, and pedagogy. The introductory article is here, and the series is presented for the educational purposes of our readers.

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