Hornist Motivations: Bucket Lists, etc.


A post yesterday on the Hornisten der Berliner Philharmoniker Facebook page brought to mind a point worth making about motivations for horn players. The specific post was a short video of a third horn excerpt from Gurrelieder by Schoenberg. This is a work that has long been on my bucket list. Gurrelieder, for those unaware, is a HUGE romantic work with ten horn parts (horns 7-10 doubling on Wagner tuba), written before he switched to his more famous 12 tone style. I have it on LP (!) and periodically get it out, imagining what it would be like to perform the work. I am doubting the Phoenix Symphony will perform the work, but who knows? If it comes up, I will be there on stage if possible!

According to Merriam-Webster online “bucket list” is a surprisingly new phrase (from 2006!), defined as “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.”


Back before there were bucket lists I know as a student there were many things I hoped to do and God has been good, I have had opportunities to do a lot of them, in particular performing and teaching horn on a high level. For example I was able to perform the Konzertstuck twice in 2012 with great sections! That not only hit a bucket list item but went far beyond.

In terms of orchestral music I have played every Mahler Symphony except No. 8, which is on that bucket list with Gurrelieder. These may both fall in the category of big works I would like to play that I may never have a good chance at in Arizona. Also high on that list is playing a Wagner opera in the pit, and due to schedule issues I had to turn down playing Flying Dutchman in a few weeks! But that is the way it goes, and I do know that Horn Matters co-author Bruce Hembd is in the section.

And then there is a special category of bucket list works, things I would LOVE to play again. Bruckner 8 is certainly on top of that list, especially if performed with a great orchestra in a great hall. And things I would love to DO again, such as again experience a mastering lab, mastering a solo recording of my own again. That is certainly on the bucket list. And I would like to build another natural horn, etc.

There are many things I hope to do and also to do again. Recitals tend to be built around those same parameters for me. Some works are played because I want to do them again, and others are done because they interest me for various reasons.

I wish I could do more period instrument performance out here in Arizona, and it was highly interesting to me that Mozart 1 on my recital this year was received very positively. I will have more natural horn on the program next year. The motivations on my end are a genuine interest in exploring how things would have sounded when the first performances occurred, and I was glad to see that listeners seemed especially interested in that same general thought.

And looking wider, the websites and publications I have produced are motivated by similar things. I try to see the opportunities I have and ways I can impact things positively.

What is on the bucket list after Horn Matters? There are things on my mind but I won’t tip my hand too far right now. I have some things I want to play on horn to be sure and very much enjoy teaching as well. I even seriously toy with ideas of building a double horn. If nothing else I am a steady worker, and I look forward to what the coming years hold in all areas.

To close, the Berlin Philharmonic Hornists Facebook page is by far the most “liked” horn page on Facebook, they just passed 12,000 fans! Check them out if you use Facebook.

University of Horn Matters