Brief review: Guide to the Solo Horn Repertoire

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Just out is a wonderful publication that will be of much interest to the horn community, Guide to the Solo Horn Repertoire by Linda Dempf and Richard Seraphinoff. At over 600 pages this book is as noted in the publisher website a “comprehensive, annotated resource of solo repertoire for the horn” which “documents in detail the rich catalogue of original solo compositions for the instrument.”

Solo-horn-repertoire-coverThe book is divided into three sections, music for unaccompanied horn, music for horn with a keyboard accompaniment (piano, organ, or harpsichord), and music for horn with an ensemble (orchestra, wind ensemble, smaller groups).

Did I mention the book is huge? For purposes of a brief review it seemed the best personal angle would be to look at works that I have some expertise with, the pieces that I recorded on my three solo CDs.

The first CD was Les Adieux, which included the following works:

  • Franz Strauss: Fantasie über den Sehnsuchtswaltzer von Schubert, Op. 2
  • Franz Strauss: Les Adieux
  • Robert Schumann: Phantasiestüke, Op. 73
  • Franz Strauss: Nocturno, Op. 7
  • Franz Strauss: Empfindungen am Meere, Op. 12
  • Franz Strauss: Thema und Variationen, Op. 13
  • Richard Strauss: Andante, Op. post.

The Franz Strauss works are covered well, although with a note that the version of the Op. 2 that I recorded, edited by Thomas Bacon, is not addressed, only the (shorter) version published by Belwin is included. A PDF document with more on the publication history of Franz Strauss works is here. The Schumann work is a transcription, so it is not included in the book. The Richard Strauss is there with a clear annotation.

To my second CD, Canto, it contains the following works:

  • Trygve Madsen: Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 24
  • Robert Schumann: Adagio und Allegro in A-flat Major, Op. 70
  • Reinhold Gliere: Nocturne, Op. 35, No. 10
  • Carl Nielsen, Canto Serioso
  • H. K. Schmid: Im tiefsten Walde, Op. 34, No. 4
  • Arnold Cooke: Rondo in B-flat Major
  • Franz Danzi: Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 28

These works are all “standards” to varying degrees and are all included in the book with very clear listings.

My third CD is still in progress but completely edited. This article contains the list of works:

  • Serenade, Op. 20 – Louis Bödecker
  • Sonata, Op. 7 – Hermann Eichborn
  • Resignation, Op. 16 – Charles Eisner
  • Lied ohne Worte, Op. 2 – Oscar Franz
  • Gondellied, Op. 15 – Karl Matys
  • Am Abend, Op. 71 – B. Ed. Müller
  • Melancholie, Op. 68 – B. Ed. Müller
  • Nocturno, Op. 73 – B. Ed. Müller
  • Wiegenlied, Op. 69, No. 1 – B. Ed. Müller
  • Lied ohne Worte – Josef Richter
  • Sonate, Op. 347 – Fritz Spindler

Now we are finally getting to some rather obscure works that put the book to a bit more of a test. Going alphabetically, Bödecker, Eichborn, Eisner, and Franz have clear listings. With the Matys we come to a problem, his work for horn and piano (found on IMSLP) is not listed, although his four Konzertstück for horn and orchestra are listed later in the book, and also his dates are given (1835-1908) which certainly was a detail that was not easy to track down. Moving ahead, next up is B. Ed. Müller. His works are all there with a correct birth year for him too, but with two notes. First, it is not noted that the Andante Religioso, Op. 74 was published for horn and organ. With that in mind I would also question if the Gebet Op. 65a is an arrangement, that it might also be an original work for horn and organ as well? The Andante Religioso at the least is significant as it likely is one of the first published works for that combination (anyone looking for a Doctoral project?). The next work on my list was also a problem, it is on IMSLP but the Lied ohne Worte of Josef Richter did not make it into the book. The final work, the Spindler Sonata, is included with a clear listing.

There is so much great info included in the publication (check out the Rosetti concertos for example) that missing only a couple rather obscure publications in my brief sample is not a major issue. In short, this book is certainly “must have” material for anyone who is serious about the French horn! The Amazon listing is here.

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