Horn Repertoire Bonus Week: Stuck in the Nineteenth Century

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We are not actually stuck there, but there is a ton to cover and, due to a quirk of the semester schedule at ASU, we have an extra Tuesday I had not planned for when I laid out the course initially. This is good news if you are a fan of horn history and rep, as there is certainly more to cover in the nineteenth century.

We have a long reading to skim over this week. At this point it is officially worth sharing an aside. When I first started publishing articles and working on websites I think a percentage of readers thought that I was probably a music historian that played horn. That was not the case at all, as in the time frame of the first publications I was performing full time as Third Horn in the Nashville Symphony, in addition to session work and teaching. Horn history was and remains a strong interest of mine, but in a sense it is just a hobby. I am no musicologist.

I mention this as a new generation of hornists will be purchasing the new Carl Fischer edition of the Kopprasch etudes (edited by Michelle Stebleton–more on that in a minute, see UPDATE) and in the preface I am referred to as a “Kopprasch scholar.” I don’t think of myself as such, but realize also that the article below (in two parts) is the most definitive ever published on Kopprasch so that is something:

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The basic background is,

Of all the hornists that worked in Berlin during the period that Heinrich Stölzel (1777-1844) was there actively promoting his invention of the valve, one name stands out today: Georg Kopprasch. Kopprasch was the son of bassoonist and composer Wilhelm Kopprasch (ca. 1750-after 1832), who was a member of the orchestra of the Prince of Dessau [Culbertson, 2]. Georg Kopprasch first came to notice as a hornist in the band of the Prussian regiment, and was a member of the orchestra of the Royal Theater in Berlin in the 1820s. Kopprasch is listed as being second hornist in an 1824 roster [Pizka, 25]. By 1832 Kopprasch had returned to his family home of Dessau as second horn in the court orchestra, as is noted on the title page of the original edition of his etudes, where he likely spent the remainder of his career. A conservative estimate as to his dates would place Georg Kopprasch living from just before 1800 until sometime after 1833.

Georg Kopprasch wrote and published a number of works for the horn. Belgian musicologist F. J. Fétis (1784-1871) in Biograhpie Universelle des Musiciens reported the following:

We have of his compositions: 1) Six short and easy quartets for four horns, Leipzig, Kollmann. 2) Twelve short duos for two horns, Leipzig, Kollmann. 3) Three grand duos, idem., ibid. 4) Six sonatas for two horns, two trumpets and three trombones, Leipzig, Peters. 5) Sixty etudes for cor alto (premier cor), op. 5, ibid. 6) Sixty etudes for cor basse (second cor), ibid [trans. in Culbertson, 3-4].

The etudes for Cor basse, Op. 6, are particularly important; they have been studied by generations of brass players and are in widespread use today.

The person who did the heavy lifting in terms of this scholarship on Kopprasch was Dr. Robert Merrill Culbertson, Jr., and for anyone really wanting to get deeply into Kopprasch history I recommend his dissertation very highly.

UPDATE: But returning to the topic of the new Carl Fischer edition of these etudes, my name is in the preface but I don’t endorse it. There are quite a number of changes compared to their previous edition, which I personally preferred. It was the standard version most teachers used, but sadly it is now but a memory. The best alternate today is the Chambers edition published by International. It has the same, traditional layout of the music inherited from the Gumpert edition from the early 1880s and works equally well for the student and the teacher used to the original Carl Fischer version.

Back when I was designing Horn Articles Online my general idea was that of it being an online book on horn history. I would invite anyone following this course to give it a look in that light, especially this large section:

There is too much there to discuss fully in an entire semester when you get down to it. But do skim it over and there will be some things I highlight in class from the above.

UPDATE: For even more to read (sorry! I really am into the topic) see this recent article on the use of the single F horn in the late nineteenth century.

Continue in Horn Repertoire Course

This is a bonus week in 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.