Horn Repertoire Week 8: Approaches to Classical Literature Today


This week the focus of the class is on performance tactics for works that are fairly frequently performed from the Classical and early Romantic period that were for natural horn and lay in the high range. Works examined will include in particular these works, discussed further on pages 44-49 of my E-Book, Playing Descant and Triple Horns.

  • universityHM-logo-improvedx150Haydn 31
  • Haydn Divertimento a Tre
  • Mozart 29
  • Mozart 40
  • Beethoven 2
  • Beethoven 7
  • Berlioz Queen Mab Scherzo

Descant-Triple-cover-smallFrom the introduction to this chapter in the E-Book,

Composers of the Baroque period typically wrote for the horn in a manner that featured the highest range of the horn. The harmonics in this clarino register are close together on the natural horn and the notes that are available could be used to melodic advantage. Later in the eighteenth century, however, we see the range of the horn drop, in terms of general usage, and a distinct division develop between cor alto (high horn) and cor basse (low horn). Horn players specialized by range, which is quite obvious from the music of the period. Many high horn (cor alto) parts of this period are well suited to performance on the descant horn.

Discussion and listening in class will include other works of the same general character (there are plenty of extreme works that could be mentioned), and as time allows other solo works of the same era, including the Sonata, Op. 17 of Beethoven and the sonatas of Danzi and Krufft. The Danzi, Op. 28 being a special favorite of mine. For more see:

Next week we keep moving forward and will turn to the Romantic natural horn of Schubert and Brahms.

Continue to Week 9

This is week 8 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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