Horn Repertoire Week 6: Who Invented Hand-Horn Technique, and the Early Classical Horn


This week our look at horn history crosses an important boundary  The roots of hand horn technique will probably always be shrouded in some mystery, with the main reading for this week looking at the topics of hand-horn technique and the early Classical horn.

It is an article where I attempt not only to see the big picture of the time frame but also to re-examine the conventional wisdom on the topic. Read it through, and see also the note on hand horn technique in the Telemann work featured in the natural horn eBook.

From the reading for this week I would also highlight again the new model of natural horn by Richard Seraphinoff, based on an instrument by Anton Kerner senior (1726-1806) of Vienna. The original dated is dated 1760 on the bell garland and has a very narrow bell profile. Quoting Seraphinoff,

This is an important instrument, because it fills the gap between the baroque orchestra horn, now often played “bells up” for pre-1750 literature, and the classical horn, which makers have most often copied from instruments of around 1800 or later. The period that has been neglected includes most of the output of Joseph Haydn, W. A. Mozart, Rosetti, the Mannheim composers, and other early classical composers.

The easy upper range helps to explain the early solo, chamber, and symphonic writing of Haydn, Johann Stamitz symphonies, Rosetti solo and double concertos, and other high horn playing in the early classical style when the clarino range was still very much part of the high horn player’s technique. The horn is also remarkable for its clear, centered stopped notes throughout the range, which indicates that the development of this type of bell design was necessary for the further refinement of the chromatic handstopping technique begun by Josef Hampl and the previous generation of players.

This is likely the kind of horn used by German players in the important centers of horn playing, and apparently by German horn players working in Paris. This would presumably have been the type of instrument used in the 1760s and 70s by the early traveling soloists such as Punto, Türrschmidt, and Palsa, using a well developed system of chromatic handstopping.

Discussion this week will also include several works on this list.

Continue to Week 7 of Repertoire Course

This is week 6 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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