Pedagogy - About Teaching
by Hervé Joulain
When starting to plan seriously to bring our most promising students to the highest level (I mean becoming world-class performers), there is an essential argument that is, to me, not considered often enough. In the chapter entitled Musicality in my book, Advanced Method for Horn (Phoenix Publications), I call it the problem of gravity.
As long as I have been teaching, listening in turn to etudes, excerpts, or concertos, I have noticed students over-playing a phrase or motif. Not satisfied with looking after their air or fingerings, horn players accompany the musical line with excessive physical movements. This lack of restraint can make the playing seem heavy and exaggerated. Despite their good intentions, this moves them away from what they wanted to convey musically. All the excess motion disturbs the flow of the music and indicates that they haven’t really got a clue what is happening with the phrase.
The bulk of our repertoire uses the two upper octaves (mid-range and high). If this is the default position in our minds, then everything below it ends up low in every sense of the word. If we play thinking upwards, as a singer would, it brings a lightness, ease, and brilliance to our playing, whereas playing to the bottom can be inelegant and can constitute an obstacle to music-making.
Such relaxation also keeps us listening to the intonation of the piano, with whom we frequently have a dialogue. An image comes to mind of the way gravity pulls an object downwards with the weight of the air above it. A first marker of progress can be to record oneself before attempting to correct something. This is always a good idea, as the recording asks us first to act then to critique.
But the best way to solve the sound-color problem caused by an excess of theatrics is to adopt the standard range as a technical recipe: not tinkering with the three standard octaves prevents the distortion of your sound. Returning to the analogy of gravity, atmospheric pressure convinces us that air pressure is the antidote to these curious anomalies.
My “war horse” is working on the difference in the registers, seeking to produce a unified tone color (which everyone seeks) without necessarily imagining the need to shift embouchures to accomplish this. To be more specific, teachers normally start out novice students with the idea of the horn having a lower and an upper register, each divided into two equal two-octave segments. Let’s not forget that most students first produce notes which are right in the middle of these four octaves.
To accomplish the necessary change of focus, my approach is as follows: find the most natural placement of the lips around low C (the last note in the opening solo of Till Eulenspiegel), and then manage the three octaves above that with continuous abdominal support.
Continuous abdominal support results in a high range with less mouthpiece pressure, bringing out a greater richness of sound, flexibility, and physical endurance. For the low register, from low C down to pedal C, only one change of position is then required.
Hervé Joulain performed with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France from 1987 to 1997, then with the Orchestre National de France and the Orchestre de Paris under the direction of renowned conductors Zubin Metha, Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Mazur, Charles Dutoit, Riccardo Muti, and others. In the year 2000, he made his debut in the United States and Canada, performing Strauss and Mozart concertos with 110 different orchestras.
Since December 2002, Joulain has been solo horn in the Symphonica Toscanini (Italy), appointed to this position by Lorin Maazel. Recently, he performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw.
From 1994 to 1998, he was professor of horn at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris. He has given over 40 master classes in France, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, Spain, England, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands.
Joulain‘s discography includes more than 20 recordings for various record labels.
IHS53: Our ONE Horn Community
IHS53: Our ONE Horn Community remains open and available until November 22! We hope you are continuing to enjoy all of the amazing presentations and recorded live-streams from our week-long online symposium in August. You can still register for access as there is still plenty of time to enjoy the masterclasses, lectures, and performances! Visit ihs53.com for links to the online symposium, registration, and SWAG!
IHS: The First 50 Years
International Horn Society: The First 50 Years commemorative book is almost here! We are expecting delivery near the end of October and will start shipping our pre-orders soon thereafter. We know you will be enthralled with this book—it includes something for everyone! Combining the visual aspects of a coffee table book with the substance of a history book, over its 250 pages, you will find chapters on IHS forerunners (by William Melton), how the IHS was formed, its programs and activities, including all of our international workshops/symposia, and its people! Please visit ihs53.com/the-book to order your copy. Want to know more? Take a listen to our podcast on the making of the book, found on hornsociety.org/publications/horn-call/podcast, "Bonus Episode: IHS 50th Anniversary Book."
Slide Horn Roundtable
by James Hampson, with Shanyse Strickland and Susan Anderson
In a live-streamed recital this summer at IHS53, Dr. James Hampson premiered Lazy Bones, a new work by Shanyse Strickland for a newly (re)designed instrument, the slide horn, or corno da tirarsi, built by Susan Anderson. Here, the three artists engage in a roundtable discussion about the power of collaboration between builder, composer, and performer:
Lazy Bones is a piece exploring the movement of bones, the human body’s physical foundation which interacts with everyday life in a world that is constantly changing around us. The design of the human body, its functions, and, most importantly, the dexterity it possesses, is something that has always been a fascinating phenomenon which moves beyond science into the spiritual world. Lazy Bones explores different events one experiences in life while presenting the horn in some familiar and some not-so-familiar territories; Lazy Bones tells a story as much as it provides a demonstration of what the slide horn can do. Strickland sees this piece as opening doors for more composers to write specifically for this instrument in new ways.
Susan Anderson is a repair technician and instrument builder in Portland, Oregon. She got her start in brass instrument repair during her undergraduate years at the University of North Texas, and she founded Jackalope Brassworks in 2012 while completing her master’s degree in horn performance at the University of Oregon. The project's original intent was to make a historically informed instrument more accessible to horn players by combining a custom slide with an ordinary posthorn. Adapting the design to complement the demands of modern composition was, for Susan, a fun challenge.
Shanyse Strickland is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger from Akron, Ohio. Shanyse received her undergraduate degree in horn performance at Youngstown State University and a graduate degree at Duquesne University, and she recently earned an artist diploma in jazz horn at Montclair State University in New Jersey where she now resides. Shanyse is currently freelancing in New Jersey and New York while focusing on her newest endeavors as a modern composer, taking on projects that she hopes will shape the future of art music.
Dr. James Hampson holds a doctorate from Boston University in historical performance on natural and historic horns as the first person in the country to pursue this degree. He is guest instructor of natural horn at Oberlin Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Hampson owns Hampson Horns, a business specializing in rare and antique brass instruments. This slide horn is one of many projects he has in the works to make historic instruments and knowledge more available and accessible to all.
In Memoriam, Vicente Zarzo
by José Zarzo
Vicente Zarzo passed away on September 14, 2021, at the age of 83. He was not only a great father, but he was also one of the greatest Spanish hornists of all time and one of the great horn players of the 20th Century.
He started his musical education at the academy of the local Wind Symphony Band, Unión Musical de Benaguacil, in his village in Valencia. Afterwards, he studied under Miguel Falomir at the Conservatory of Music in Valencia. Falomir was principal horn with the Valencia Orchestra, and he invited my father whenever he needed an extra. My father remembered especially well the first performance in Spain of Mahler's 3rd Symphony with the Valencia Orchestra.
He studied one year with Hans Noeth in Munich. Noeth was principal hornist with the Residenz Theater, now the Bavarian State Opera.
My father started his professional career as hornist with the Barcelona Opera Orchestra for two seasons, followed by one season with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (1960/61), then a three-month tour with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, based in Pittsburgh, USA.
From 1961-1968, he was co-principal horn with Gerald Thatcher (uncle of James Thatcher) in the National Symphony Orchestra of México. During this time, whenever the late Fred Fox came to play as an extra, my father took lessons from him. He considered Fred his greatest teacher, and they became great friends.
From 1968-1998, he was principal with The Hague Philharmonic, Het Residentie Orkest. With this orchestra, he played many concerts as a soloist (Mozart concertos 1, 3, and 4; Strauss concerto 1; Haydn concerto 2; the Britten Serenade, etc.) under eminent principal conductors Willem van Otterloo, Jean Martinon, Ferdinand Leitner, Hans Vonk, and Evgeny Svetlanov. During his years in The Netherlands, he served as guest principal with The Concertgebouw Orchestra under Carlo María Giulini, and he was professor at the Conservatories of Amsterdam and The Hague.
Some of my dad’s solo recordings can be found on the YouTube channel of my brother and colleague, Carlos Zarzo:
Many distinguished composers wrote concertos for him, including Eduardo Mata, Jan van Vlijmen, Amando Blanquer, Wim Laman, Paul de Roo, etc. He was named honorary member of the International Horn Society in August, 2020, and he considered this honor the crowning achievement of his career.
As his son and student, I enjoyed solfeggio lessons every morning from age 6, and from age 10 his exquisite horn instruction—and above all, free masterclasses every day just hearing him practice!
Now, I know in Heaven, he is enjoying the company of all deceased honorary members of the IHS, presided by Giovanni Punto, Dennis Brain and all the other great masters of our beloved instrument.
Rest in peace, dear Dad!
Acoustics - Recording the horn
by Frederik Rostrup
Listen to the music while you read! This link will take you to the available sources in your part of the world.
Horn recording is different from recording most other sound sources because the horn is an ambient instrument. That means that the sound of the horn is inherently bound to the surroundings in which it is played. Most horn players have had the experience of sound technicians placing microphones pointing into the bell, resulting in turning the horn into a trombone, in which case they should have hired trombone players instead. Generally speaking, the horn needs a minimum of one reflection before the microphone picks it up to yield that horn sound. This means that the horn should be miked from a position in front of the horn player. Urban legend has it that Hermann Baumann preached this gospel. Can any of you readers confirm that?
In the winter of 2021, the pandemic lockdown gave us time we would otherwise never have found to do this project. We recorded for 10 consecutive days. We were fortunate to have friends and sponsors lending us a church, a concert grand and good microphones. We had a grand design, but out of necessity we scaled it down. It turns out this it helped us a lot.
The Lutheran church in Vangede, north of Copenhagen, was designed and built as a venue for acoustic music in the seventies. It has a reverberation time around 3 seconds in the midrange, rising to almost 4 seconds in the low range.
We used the principle of a main microphone (as opposed to polymicrophony). The main microphone system was a quasi ORTF some four meters from the piano with the horn player in stereo center facing the pianist. We moved it around and ended as the photos show. In addition we spot-miked the horn from the front with two rather unusual microphones: One figure-8 microphone side-rejecting the piano sound from above the horn and a vacuum tube large diaphragm cardioid from beneath the horn. We ended up loving the tube the most.
Microphones from Microtech Gefell, Germany. Read the fascinating company story here: https://www.microtechgefell.de/unternehmen/history.
Main microphone system: 2xM930 in quasi-ORTF
CMV563/M7S vintage vacuum tube cardioid large diaphragm
UMT70S in figure of eight position
Microphone preamplifier and analog to digital converter:
RME fireface 800. Clock frequency 44.1 kHz. Bitrate: 24 bit
Digital audio workstation: Logic X on Macbook Air 2019- (storage on external harddrives over USB)
Small speakers: Genelec 8010
Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT990
Effects: no effects, filters, delays, compression or artificial reverbs are used at all. The reverb you hear is the church itself. (The church was designed to sound good by skilled acousticians).
Loudness: Without much ado, the programme complies with the current industry standard.
Although we aimed for recording the pieces in their entirety, we ended up editing the best snippets together. Like other technical advances, it seems to lie in human nature to utilize them when available, even when unethical.. We even considered overdubbing -only laziness prevented us from doing so.
Lasse Mauritzen joined the Danish National Symphony Orchestra as Principal/ Solo Horn in 2006, where he still plays today. Lasse has been a soloist with this orchestra several times, including a memorable performance of Richard Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 in December 2017, conducted by principal conductor Fabio Luisi.
Henrik Bo Hansen has concentrated on his performing career while serving as organist since 1996. He frequently performs as a chamber musician with members of The Royal Danish Orchestra and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra.
Lasse and Henrik have been performing as a duo for many years.
- Villanelle, Paul Dukas . 07.16
- Reverie Op.24, A. Glazounov. 04.00
- Ballade, Jeanne Demessieux. 08.41
- Nocturne Op.7, Franz Strauss. 07.02
- Romance Op.36, C. Saint-Saens. 03.48
- Concertino 1st Movement, Leoš Janáček. 05.35
- Adagio & Allegro Op.70, R. Schumann. 09.15
- Romance Op.67, C. Saint-Saens. 08.00
- Serenade for Horn & Piano, Launy Grøndahl. 03.12
The Compact Disc version is solely intended to serve as a business card/merchandise for the duo when touring. It will not be distributed.
Frederik Rostrup graduated as Tonmeister from the Tonmeisterinstitut der Universität der Künste, Berlin, Germany in 2003
He plays music in his leisure time.
He earns a living teaching math.
Akustik - Hornoptagelser
Dette link vil vise dig musiktjenester der har musikken i din del af verden
Hornoptagelse er forskellig fra optagelse af stort set alle andre lydkilder fordi hornet er et reflekterende instrument. Det betyder at lyden fra hornet er uløseligt forbundet med de omgivelser det spilles i. De fleste hornister har oplevet lydteknikere sætte mikrofonerne bag hornet, så de peger ind i schallstykket. På den måde kommer hornet til at lyde som en trækbasun. Hvis det var meningen, skulle de have hyret nogle basunister i stedet. Hornet har brug for mindst én reflektion før mikrofonen hører det, for at give den karakteristiske hornlyd. Det betyder at hornet skal optages fra en position foran hornisten. En vandrehistorie fortæller at Hermann Baumann prædikede dette evangelium. Kan nogle af læserne bekræfte det?
Horn & Klaver
I februar 2021 fik vi, takket være coronanedlukningen, den tid vi ellers aldrig ville have fundet, til at optage Music for Horn & Piano. Vi indspillede i 10 dage efter hinanden. Heldigvis havde vi venner og sponsorer, der kunne låne os en kirke, et koncertflygel og gode mikrofoner. Vilde planer havde vi, men virkeligheden tvang os til at skrue ned for ambitionerne, og det hjalp os faktisk i sidste ende.
Vangede kirke nord for København er opført i halvfjerdserne med musikoptagelser for øje.
Kirken har en efterklangstid på omkring 3 sekunder i mellemtoneområdet, stigende til næsten 4 sekunder i basområdet.
Vi anvendte hovedmikrofonprincippet (i modsætning til polymikrofoni).
Hovedmikrofonsystemet var et tilnærmet ORTF cirka 4 meter fra klaveret, med hornisten i stereocenteret med front mod pianisten.
Vi lyttede og flyttede rundt på det, og endte som det ses på billederne.
Hornet blev støttet forfra med to usædvanlige mikrofoner: En ottetalsmikrofon over hornet med den “døve” side mod klaveret, og en rørmikrofon med nyrekarakteristik nedefra. Vi endte med at synes bedst om rørmikrofonen.
Mikrofoner fra Microtech Gefell, Tyskland. Læs den fascinerende firmahistorie her.
Hovedmikrofonsystem: 2xM930 stormembran nyre i tilnærmet ORTF
CMV563/M7S genudgivelse af den klassiske stormembran-rørmikrofon (nyre)
UMT70S i ottetalsindstilling
Mikrofonforforstærker og analog til digital konverter:
RME fireface 800. Clockfrekvens 44.1 kHz. Bitrate: 24 bit
Digital audio workstation: Logic X på Macbook Air 2019- (lager på ekstern harddisk over USB)
Små højttalere: Genelec 8010
Hovedtelefoner: Beyerdynamic DT990
Effekter: ingen effekter, filtre, forsinkelser, komprimering eller kunstig rumklang overhovedet. Klangen du hører, er kirken selv.
(Erfarne akustikere har designet kirken til at klinge godt)
Loudness: Optagelsen overholder industristandarden for lydstyrke uden at vi har manipuleret den.
Selvom vi gik efter at indspille musikstykkerne i deres fulde længde, endte vi alligevel med at klippe de bedste optagelser sammen. Som med andre tekniske opfindelser, er det vist menneskets natur at bruge alle til rådighed stående kneb, selv når det er uetisk. Vi overvejede endda at overdubbe. Kun dovenskab afholdt os fra det.
Lasse Mauritzen startede i Radiosymfoniorkestret som solohornist i 2006, hvor han stadig spiller. Lasse har været solist med sit orkester flere gange times, deriblandt i en mindeværdig opførsel af Richard Strauss’ første hornkoncert i December 2017, under dirigent Fabio Luisi.
Henrik Bo Hansen har koncentreret sig om sin kammermusik sideløbende med sin rolle som organist i Vangede kirke siden1996. Han spiller ofte kammermusik med musikere fra det Kongelige Kapel og fra Radiosymfoniorkestret.
Lasse og Henrik har optrådt som duo i mange år.
- Villanelle, Paul Dukas . 07.16
- Reverie Op.24, A. Glazounov. 04.00
- Ballade, Jeanne Demessieux. 08.41
- Nocturne Op.7, Franz Strauss. 07.02
- Romance Op.36, C. Saint-Saens. 03.48
- Concertino 1st Movement, Leoš Janáček. 05.35
- Adagio & Allegro Op.70, R. Schumann. 09.15
- Romance Op.67, C. Saint-Saens. 08.00
- Serenade for Horn & Piano, Launy Grøndahl. 03.12
Hvordan kan jeg komme til at høre det?
Frederik Rostrup dimitterede som Tonmeister fra Tonmeisterinstitut der Universität der Künste, Berlin, Tyskland i 2003
Han spiller musik i sin fritid.
Han ernærer sig ved at undervise i matematik.
Gottfried von Freiberg (1908-1962)
(This fascinating article will also appear (in English) in the October 2021 Horn Call.)
Hornist, Teacher, Role Model
by Robert Freund
English Translation by Elisabeth Freund-Ducatez and Cecilia Cloughly
Who was Gottfried von Freiberg?
Let me say it straightaway: Gottfried von Freiberg was my horn teacher, was our professor at the Academy, and a role model for an entire generation of horn players in Austria. To date, nothing has been written about him, except for a few scarce lines in encyclopedias, written in a very general and impersonal manner.
Therefore, in 2018-2019, I began to make notes and compile thoughts about his origins, his family, and his musical studies. I researched why he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra for one season before returning to Nazi Vienna, and how he survived the war and the Nazi era. What were the circumstances of the world premiere of Richard Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto, with Freiberg as soloist in Salzburg in 1943? As the questions accumulated, I began to write down facts.
Career in the Interwar Period
Gottfried von Freiberg was born in Vienna on April 11, 1908, into the family of a senior civil servant. He studied horn at the Vienna Music Academy with the famous Karl Stiegler, solo horn of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, who happened to be his uncle. Freiberg’s career began in 1927 as the first horn in Karlsruhe (Germany), where the Viennese conductor Josef Krips was chief conductor. Only one year later, in 1928, Freiberg became assistant 1st horn at the Vienna Philharmonic, next to Stiegler. After Stiegler’s death in 1932, Freiberg took over the position as first solo horn at the age of 24 years, as well as his late uncle’s teaching position at the Vienna Music Academy.
In 1936, Freiberg moved to Boston for one season, where he played first horn with the BSO under conductors Sergei Koussevitzky and Pierre Monteux, sharing his orchestral duties with the local solo hornist Willem Valkenier. In my book, I describe in detail why Freiberg did not succeed in Boston and how he was, on the contrary, treated with hostility and suspicion. While he was in Boston, Freiberg knew, of course, that Nazis were already in charge in Austria, and, in particular, that Nazi sympathizers as well as members of the Nazi party (NSDAP) were filling the ranks of the Vienna Philharmonic. Nevertheless, Freiberg threw in the towel after ten months in Boston and returned from the USA. As of 1937, he was back again as first horn player of the Vienna Philharmonic as well as Professor at the Music Academy.
The Nazi Era
One should not make the mistake of considering the Nazi era in Austria as being only from the “Anschluss” in 1938 to the end of World War II. In Austria, the NS movement started well before the 1930s and lasted into the 1960s. Blacklists had long been prepared on opponents of the new system and of Jews. Meticulous records were kept about anyone in Austria of Jewish descent or even married to a Jew. It was a well-known fact that Freiberg not only strictly rejected Nazi ideas but was considered a “Mischling,” having a Jewish grandfather – a potential death sentence. Only a few days after the “Anschluss,” Freiberg came to know the new Hitler regime firsthand through two letters, one confirming his classification as a “quarter-Jew,” the other dismissing him from the Academy. Thanks to the support of the famous conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler in front of the highest Nazi authorities in Berlin, Freiberg and eight other “undesirable” members of the Vienna Philharmonic were allowed to remain in the orchestra. Thanks to this “special permit,” the Academy reversed its decision and rehired Freiberg. Many other “politically objectionable” members were immediately dismissed or had already fled. During the war, these nine members of the Philharmonic were miserable. Any decline in their artistic level, e.g. for health reasons, would have led to an immediate dismissal. Consequently, the pressure on Freiberg must have been immense!
Artistic Highlight in the Midst of the War
Ironically, in 1943, one of the highlights of Freiberg’s musical career fell into this politically perilous war period: the world premiere of Richard Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto, performed in Salzburg by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Karl Böhm with Freiberg as the soloist. The composer came from Bavaria to attend the first rehearsal, but he left before it was finished and did not show up two days later on August 11, 1943 for the premiere of his new composition. His absence raised questions and unresolved issues in the Central European musical landscape. Only recently – seven decades later – the German hornist Peter Damm was able to shed light on this mystery, as my book reports in detail. For Freiberg – as well as for his students – this famous world premiere of the Strauss Horn Concerto undoubtedly remains one of the artistic highlights of his life.
Chairman of the Orchestral Board after the War
When the war was over in 1945, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra urgently needed a non-Nazi-affiliated representative, since only an “unencumbered” member could successfully negotiate with the four Allied Forces: USA, Russia, France, England. These occupying forces controlled every aspect of life, even culture. Thus, Freiberg was elected chairman of the Orchestral Board – yet another highpoint of his life – from a social point of view. However, he was confronted with the Board’s irreconcilable differences and extreme tensions within the orchestra in the immediate post-war period. After only one year, Freiberg resigned from his position as chairman of the Board, justifying his decision in a well-reasoned “Memorandum” that is printed in full length in my book.
The difficult war-time period, the bombings, his concerns about his family, his demanding job at the State Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra, numerous recordings, as well as his horn lessons at the Academy four days a week, his excessive smoking and consumption of coffee, plus the night-time scoring work – all this led to a series of heart attacks and – in 1962 – to Freiberg’s early death at the age of 54 years.
Freiberg as a Horn Teacher
I had played various brass instruments during my high school years in Switzerland. When I returned to Vienna in 1953, I definitely wanted to study music. When I asked people about career opportunities, I was told, “Are you crazy? And what are you going to live off?” I was well prepared for the entrance exam at the Academy of Music, yet Freiberg did not want to hear my etudes, but only politely asked me to play a C major scale. With a “Thank you, first year!” I was accepted at the famous Academy.
My horn lessons were always on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Freiberg and a few other teachers required all their students to be present at the beginning of their teaching classes at 1 p.m. The advanced students played first for the entire class, while the younger ones had to listen, in order to get to know the pieces and the common mistakes hornists made in them. We thought it was a good system – we younger pupils learned much without playing a single note, while the advanced ones had an audience.
Since I was one of the beginners and my lesson used to be late in the afternoon, Freiberg often talked to me after my lesson ended, before the beginning of his opera service an hour or so later. In the empty classroom, standing at the window overlooking the historic square Schwarzenbergplatz, he would smoke and talk about his life in the orchestra, about operas and conductors, even his work at the Musicians’ Union – and I would listen, thrilled.
Freiberg was very patient when students played, even if they were not well prepared. He was always friendly and spoke a fine Viennese dialect. Lessons usually lasted 20 to 30 minutes. This could change abruptly and take up to 40 or 50 minutes when a student had a problem, be it with his lips, tongue, breath, embouchure, mouthpiece, and so on. In such a case, he would dance around the student for almost an hour, until everything was perfectly in order again. That was Freiberg’s unique secret. He hardly ever played for the students. This might have been due to his playing after his lessons at the Opera one hour later. With exceptions: twice he played the big solo at the end of the first movement of Brahms’s Second Symphony for me.
After a heart attack, Freiberg was on medical leave from performing, but he was allowed to teach. After months of not playing at all a student asked him how to attack a high a♭". Freiberg grabbed the nearest F horn, fixed his mouthpiece carefully, and attacked this note wonderfully and softly. At his last New Year’s Eve party, he was asked by a friend, a bass trombonist, how low a horn player could play; he again grabbed a horn and attacked a contra A right away. Every horn player in the world understands what that means.
Freiberg’s greatest influence on my horn studies and my future life as a musician came not from talking, not from his teaching, but from setting an example as a human being and a musician. In every aspect, he was exactly the hornist I wanted to become. One day he asked me: “Freund, do you want to come to Brussels with me for three weeks?” It was the Brussels World Fair of 1958 – of course I did! Every day, I had public classes with my professor in Brussels.
That same year, tempted by the opportunity to earn money, I decided to accept my first orchestra job as a hornist with the Hungarian Refugee Orchestra, the Philharmonia Hungarica. Up to this day, I believe that Freiberg disagreed with my decision – although he never said a word. I continued attending class, but he died in 1962 before I could take my final exam.
Specifics from his Lessons
Freiberg’s way of teaching was quiet, friendly, helpful, and attentive to every detail. He always stood next to the grand piano and “watched over” the pupil’s playing. A tone had to be attacked clearly, not necessarily with a strong “ta,” but rather with a distinctive “da” – no sneaking into the note allowed. He often mentioned the unique dynamics of playing the Vienna F Horn. Of course, we all had to play this instrument. Freiberg accepted double horns only with students from abroad. It was very important to him that in playing with piano accompaniment the pupil didn’t just “play along,” but rather made music out of every note.
My book recounts some of the things that were of particular importance to Freiberg and his colleagues regarding the Viennese way of phrasing and articulating. Like many of his Philharmonic colleagues, he was convinced of the importance of upholding the Austrian tradition of playing music, based on the Method for Violin by Leopold Mozart. He himself observed this tradition in his own playing and, of course, he taught it to his students. Inexorably and persistently, he demanded a beautiful horn tone, clear articulation, a clean staccato, long upbeats, and even a certain length or shortness of notes – all according to Viennese tradition. Each tone, even the shortest staccato, had to be bell-shaped, not cut off by the tongue. Another imperative was his kind of Viennese slur: not just simply connecting one note to the next, as the instrument would allow it – he wanted to hear the slur itself.
I remember one exhausting lesson, after having been corrected at great length in Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4 for half an hour, so that I did not know anymore what and how to play at all. (It did work out in the end.) For decades, I have been deeply grateful to Freiberg for having been so unrelenting in his teaching, for showing me the way to play Mozart.
Using a number of music excerpts in my book, I offer insights into the Viennese musical tradition – even for non-experts. Strong slurs and a certain articulation were certainly idiosyncratic in Freiberg’s playing. In these matters he – along with some Philharmonic colleagues – was unyielding. “Pushing“ in slurs, cutting off short staccato, and an uninspired, note-by-note performance were absolute no-gos for Freiberg.
Freiberg’s Library and Students
Gottfried von Freiberg succeeded his uncle, Karl Stiegler (1886-1932), at the Academy of Music in Vienna in the year 1932. He also took over the abundant library of horn scores and parts of Josef Schantl (1842-1902) and Stiegler, his predecessors at the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Academy of Music. Therefore, Freiberg was said to own the largest library of horn music in the world.
He taught horn for 30 years, until his early death in 1962, developing a whole generation of horn players in Austria. Since the students of Freiberg were a big part of his life – he looked after them not only in class, but, when appropriate, also personally, I dedicated an entire chapter of the book to them. His former students played in all of Austria’s orchestras and also abroad. Some of them became famous hornists, some succeeded in various other professions. In my book, I tried to mention each and every student and tell their stories.
Freiberg in Testimonials
In his memoirs, the Viennese former chief conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Josef Krips, an honorary citizen of San Francisco, mentioned the 18-year-old Freiberg as a wonderful young first hornist in Karlsruhe. My book cites twenty-four different statements and letters from contemporary witnesses – many of them from the Vienna Philharmonic – that offer insights into how colleagues and music enthusiasts saw and judged Freiberg.
Freiberg as an Author, Composer and on Recordings
Freiberg composed about fifty horn quartets and quintets, half of them for Christmas. He also wrote fanfares; one of them is still played at the opening of the annual ball of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Musikverein. These fanfares were also regularly played by the Vienna Horn Society (Wiener Waldhornverein). Let me also mention Freiberg’s arrangements of the Adagio of Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony for five and eight horns respectively, following the well-known example of Ferdinand Löwe (1863-1925) who had arranged music from Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. The scores and parts have recently been printed (2020) and are now available in Austria at lanolino.at/musikverlag.
In 1938, Freiberg was invited to write an entry about the horn for a new German Music Encyclopedia. He wrote about 20 pages, shedding light on historical and functional dimensions, transposition, embouchure, and the best age to start studying, published as “Das Horn.” The article is of great interest, and in my book I cite some excerpts from it in an abbreviated manner.
Recordings that include Freiberg’s solo playing exist until this day, among them Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto, which was produced in Vienna three months after the 1943 premiere in Salzburg with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Karl Böhm. Some other recordings include Mozart’s Horn Quintet KV 407, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante KV 297b/App. I.9, Mozart’s Serenade in E-flat major, Schubert’s Octet for Strings and Winds, Haydn’s Octet for Winds in F major, Beethoven’s Sextet with String Quartet, the Notturno from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Mendelssohn, and Beethoven’s Octet.
Freiberg and the F Horn
In his time (1928-1962), Freiberg was the strongest advocate and guardian of the Vienna F Horn. He saw it as the only option and he ensured two things: that the instrument as such as well as the Viennese way to play it were retained. Putting down the double horn and using an F horn instead – that alone was not the Vienna Horn tradition!
Freiberg always maintained an interest in instruments. Unfortunately, no high-quality F Horns were produced in Vienna at the time, technically speaking. However, from the point of view of tone quality, they were fabulous! Freiberg also owned a double horn, made probably by Anton Cizek, Vienna, an F/high-F horn. He enjoyed it very much and showed it around to everybody interested in these types of instruments. He certainly used it for the Trio in Haydn’s Wind Octet and for other high parts. When he showed it to me, I remember him whispering to me: “Try attacking very softly; that works best.” Later I bought it from the family and felt the same pleasure in playing tricky high parts on it.
Although the Vienna Philharmonic continued to play exclusively on the F horn after World War II, other Viennese orchestras switched to double horns. Luckily, the Vienna F Horn improved technically, so that the other big orchestras of Vienna (Vienna Symphony, Volksoper, Tonkünstler Orchestra) do again play only the Vienna F horn. The Vienna Horn, as you can read in my book on Freiberg, means much more to us than just a necessity or a question of taste; it is an attitude of life, of musical belief. Our orchestras and their horn sections are convinced that the sound of Bruckner played on our F horns – matching the rest of the brass section – is closest to the Bruckner sound of 1890. And we are proud of that. I did not want to omit this Austrian peculiarity in my book about Freiberg.
Some things we shall never know, such as how Freiberg’s horn playing was perceived (or rejected) by American listeners and colleagues in Boston in 1936. Every man has his secrets!
Robert Freund, born in 1932 in Vienna, was sent to Switzerland in the post-war period by the Swiss Red Cross, children’s aid, spent his high school years at the seminary school in Engelberg (1946-53), where he learned to play several brass instruments. Upon his return to Vienna, he graduated from the Vienna School of Hotel Management and studied Interpreting at Vienna University. Beginning in 1955, he studied horn with Gottfried von Freiberg at the Vienna Academy of Music. He played first horn at the Philharmonia Hungarica, the Tonkünstler Orchestra (in Vienna) and solo horn at the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Besides his soloist activity, he was a passionate chamber musician (Wiener Bläserquintett) and toured Europe, the Middle East, the USA and Canada as well as Japan. During his entire professional career he taught horn (at University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, among others) and wrote a French Horn Method for Young Beginners published by Doblinger.