Horn Repertoire Week 13: The Modern Horn

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As we approach the end of the semester it is again very clear that a course of this type cannot possibly cover it all. But we will hit a few highlights and point to the fact there is much more out there.

While our focus is on solo and chamber music, if we had time we would briefly examine such orchestral works as the Ravel: Piano Concerto in G and Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5.

Our in-class focus will be on just a very few solo and chamber works that are “major,” which for our purposes will be defined as works that are performed frequently on student recitals and in professional contexts. One good example is the Britten: Serenade, Op. 31 for Tenor, Horn, and Strings; it is not on student recitals often (in part due to it not sounding as compelling with piano), but is scheduled regularly by major orchestras and has been recorded many times. We will cover as many works as time allows in class at ASU — there is much to attempt to cover — from standards by Bozza, Hindemith, Wilder, etc., on to many other possible works. And, lucky for us, typically we have actually two weeks to do this in the actual flow of the physical class.

The challenge of this course for the teacher is horn repertoire composed in the most recent 50 years or so. Further back from that rough date it is fairly clear which works have become standards, but to varying degrees of course. Some more recent works are performed often (such as The Glass Bead Game of James Beckel), but will it become a standard? Only time will really tell.

For those reading this course online only I would offer as a 2017 course update the following works, highlighting some of my favorites briefly in the following articles:

And then we have chamber music, there are so many works that could be mentioned. One I would highlight here is Table for Three at Chez Janau for horn, bass trombone, and piano by Paul Ferguson. I commissioned this four movement work, and I feel it came out great! Below is the first movement.

The final reminder to those out there reading this and thinking “wait a minute, why nothing about XXXXX” is that this course is only an overview. There are sub topics that you could easily get lost in for a semester. For one very prime example, visit and skim over the female composers and the horn website linked below, it would be easy to spend an entire semester on just that topic.

Within any sub-topic, as well, the question would still be which works are the best? In terms of Female composers I would particularly point readers to this article by Dr. Lin Foulk:

One more piece I love to highlight to the class is a work for horn and gamelan by Lou Harrison. Intrigued? More about it here.

Next week we wrap things up with a course of study and a look at some names in the horn world, but for sure everyone reading this should make a point to explore some of the more recent works written for the horn, I am sure there are gems out there that will be considered standard works in the future.

Continue to Week 14 of Repertoire Course

This is week 13 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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