Wednesday, August 5

Lecture (Pedagogy)

  • Colburn School, Mayman Hall 200 S Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA, 90012 United States

Contemporary Solos for Low Horn

Presenter: Dr. Robert Stonestreet

Playing in the lower register forms a vital part of every horn player’s skill set, however the fact that it is no longer considered a specialized skill has led to it becoming a neglected facet in both the practice and teaching of many students. There are significant benefits to low register work on the horn as well as many challenges, and in recent years a number of new pedagogical resources have become available that specifically target this area. However, at the same time it has appeared that the number of solo works available to showcase these skills as they are developed by the student have been relatively few and far between.

The development and implementation of the valve at the beginning of the nineteenth century had a substantial effect on the horn and its technique, especially in the lower register. Several innovative composers and performers explored the instrument’s possibilities below the stave, whilst retaining the rapid arpeggios and wide intervals commonly found in ‘cor basse’ music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For whatever reason, most of these works and the people who are responsible for them have failed to gain widespread recognition amongst today’s horn players.

The two most well know and widely performed works for low horn have long been Carl Nielsen’s Canto Serioso composed in 1913, and Hermann Neuling’s landmark work, the Bagatelle, written during the 1950’s. In the decades that followed, many more works have become available and these repertoire options are clearly worth further investigation. This presentation will cover a number of solo repertoire options for the low horn player, covering various styles, nationalities and levels of difficulty. Special attention will be paid to the works recently commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra’s fourth horn Denise Tryon, by the composers Brett Miller (b.1976), Nathan Pawelek (b.1968), Andrea Clearfield (b.1960) and Peter Askim (b.1971). It is hoped that the works discussed will fill the currently existing void for both players and teachers, attract more frequent performances and ultimately a more widespread appreciation of the skills required in the lowest register of the instrument.