Question #1: Jazz horn pioneer Julius Watkins, and the King of Pop, Micheal Jackson, spent several years (at different times) working for/collaborating musically with which music industry giant?
A. Quincy Jones
B. Phil Spector
C. Brian Eno
D. George Martin
Bonus question #1: What nickname did Watkins earn during his time working with the answer to Question #1?
B. The Phantom
C. Julius Caesar
D. The Professor
Question #2: Due in part to the incorporation of the Mellophonium (a forward facing F alto horn with a cornet shank) into a couple of jazz big bands during the late 1950‘s, hornists now have quite a large repertoire with 4 „horn“ parts plus big band. Name the famous big band leader responsible for the development of this instrument and with which instrument manufacturer did he collaborate?
A. Woody Herman and DEG
B. Stan Kenton and C.G. Conn
C. Duke Ellington and King Musical Instruments
D. Buddy Rich and Blessing
Is a Beautiful Horn Sound Really of Any Importance?
Lecture for the 9th International Horn Workshop
The title of this little talk can perhaps be taken as a provocation; isn't a beautiful horn tone exactly what we are all striving for? Yet I ask this question because I am convinced that the tone we produce is the most unimportant aspect of getting the best result, and it must not be the focus of our problems and concentration.
How often don't we say: "Oh, what an ugly Sound he or she has"? Do we really mean what we say? Couldn't there be something else displeasing us? Try to analyze: perhaps he or she has a hard or clumsy attack? Does he end a phrase heavily? Or does he push every note like a "wah-wah?" Or there could be something else I haven't mentioned here. Anyway, if it is any of these characteristics or any other kind of playing behavior, it has nothing to do with the tone; it is the treatment of the tone.
If the tone ideal as such is an important.question, my highest ideal as a horn player wouldn't be Dennis Brain. To my taste he didn't have an especially charming sound, certainly not the so-called "romantic" horn sound. A Iess gifted horn player wouldn't have had such tremendous success with that particular sound. Now then, what is the difference between a master and the less brilliant star? Of course, in the case of Brain, the musicality: the "agogik"(1) and phrasing. That's an important part of the treatment of the tone. But even more important elements of what we are talking about here are:
Ab Koster - A fond farewell after 39 years at the Hamburg University for Music and Theater
by Petra Röpenack-Schäfer
Music brings us together - especially, in this case, the horn. For nearly 4 decades, the horn was the binding element between teacher and student. The farewell party on May 20, 2019, made it abundantly clear that Prof. Ab Koster has succeeded in passing on his horn knowledge and talent to generations of players. On top of this, Prof. Koster’s personality has made him a role model for his many students. This was a common theme in the many speeches during the event. It’s an extremely fruitful combination - a whopping 94% of his students hold positions as professional performers.
People traveled to Hamburg from all over Europe and from as far away as Asia and Australia, just to celebrate with their former professor. Now that is true appreciation! Joy, respect, and a deep regard for one another gave the reception its character. This extraordinary atmosphere was enhanced by the beautiful weather, allowing the event to move outdoors. This was a good thing indeed, as it gave ample room to the ensemble of 40 players. They started off with “A Winter Fanfare,” a composition for 8 horns and percussion by former student Thomas Campbell (all the parts quintupled). Of course, it would not have been complete without the “Evening Blessing” (“Abendsegen”) from Hänsel and Gretel, a piece dear to the heart of every horn player, and which conveyed the solemnity of the occasion. The horn-filled, official part was followed by a beautiful party, ending on a lively note.
Feierliche Verabschiedung von Professor Ab Koster nach 39 Jahren Lehrtätigkeit an der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg.
von Petra Röpenack-Schäfer
Musik verbindet – hier speziell das Horn. Über fast vier Jahrzehnte hinweg war es das verbindende Element zwischen Lehrer und Studenten. Der Empfang zur Verabschiedung am 20. Mai 2019 verdeutlichte eindrucksvoll, dass es Prof. Ab Koster mit Bravour gelungen ist, sein hornistisches Können und Wissen an die kommenden Generationen weiter zu vermitteln. Zusätzlich war und ist Prof. Ab Koster aufgrund seiner Persönlichkeit für viele Studenten menschliches Vorbild. Diese Tatsache wurde im Verlauf verschiedener Reden immer wieder hervorgehoben. Eine äußerst fruchtbare Kombination die dazu geführt hat, dass 94 % seiner Studierenden eine Stelle inne haben und den Beruf des Musikers ausüben.
Letter from Transylvania
My name is Constantin-Lucian Tompa, and I am a horn player (former principal for almost 18 years until the 2017-2018 season when I stepped over to second horn) at the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and I am horn professor at the Sigismund Toduta College of Music. I was born into an artistic family: my mother was a fashion designer, and my father was a violin player in the city orchestra. I have a younger brother, Sergiu-Florin Tompa, who is also a horn player; he works at the Hungarian State Opera in Cluj-Napoca. Here is a link of him playing as a soloist with the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012 during his masters studies at Gheorghe Dima National Academy of Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx6ESO91HLE. Sergiu and I both studied music in Cluj-Napoca with Professor Vasile Oprea from fifth grade through high school, and then with Professor Alexandru Marc for our undergraduate and masters degrees.
Rather than writing about myself, however, I want to describe some aspects of the “horn life” here in Cluj-Napoca, a major city in Romania with 450,000 inhabitants situated in the well-known Transylvania region of the country. In the city, the primary cultural entities are the two operas (financed by government), the Romanian National Opera and the Hungarian State Opera; this is a unique situation because our town was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1918. In Cluj-Napoca, there are also the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus; The National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” and “Sigismund Toduta” College of Music. The National Opera and The National Academy are celebrating their centennial this year.
Horn playing in Cluj-Napoca is an old tradition—and a strong one—but most important, in my opinion, is the bond that revolves around our instrument. The force that connects horn players all over the world is very much alive here, creating a nice horn community currently centered around professor Dr. Alexandru Marc (age 64), principal horn player at the Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra and professor of horn at the Dima National Academy of Music. He is a passionate person who has fought all his life for his students so that they would have the best possible learning conditions and quality instruments, a person dedicated to horn playing and teaching. It is no exaggeration to say that all of the professional horn players currently working in the Cluj-Napoca orchestras, in the philharmonic and both operas, have been his students at some point.
Homage à Jean Devémy
By Emily Britton
In the nineteenth century, with increased wealth from industrialization, the American public began to establish orchestras. Many of the musicians in these orchestras were immigrants, mostly from Germany and Bohemia. To this day, many of the instrumental traditions or schools in the United States are in the German tradition; the horn is no exception. Today, most American horn players play on German-style horns and focus primarily on Austro-German repertoire. Concertos by W. A. Mozart, Richard Strauss and his father, Franz, and Franz Joseph Haydn are standard works, along with sonatas by Paul Hindemith and Joseph Rheinberger and the Johannes Brahms’ Horn Trio. The average undergraduate horn player will play three standard French works: the Dukas Villanelle, Bozza’s En Forêt, and the Saint-Saëns Morceau de Concert. A few will play the Poulenc Élégie or the Françaix Divertimento. Sadly, this leaves a wealth of French repertoire neglected by most American collegiate horn players. While it is important to learn standard repertoire, there are many hidden gems in the existing French repertoire.
In exploring twentieth-century French repertoire, it is common to see inscriptions “à Jean Devémy.” As horn professor at the renowned Paris Conservatory for over thirty years, from 1937 to 1969, Devémy had a powerful influence on the development of horn playing and repertoire in France in the twentieth-century. Thirty-one pieces from twenty-six composers, all French, were commissioned as examination pieces during Devémy’s tenure at the Paris Conservatory. Only two have become standard pieces in the American repertoire: Bozza’s En Forêt and the Françaix Divertimento. The remaining twenty-nine pieces are of mixed quality, but hidden in this collection are works that deserve more recognition and exposure and that reflect the rich heritage left by M. Devémy.
Jean Devémy was born in 1898 in Valenciennes, a French city located near the Belgian border. Initially, he was attracted to the oboe, but the horn teacher at the Conservatoire de Valenciennes, Arthur Cantin, had a “friendly and noble air,” so Devémy chose to study with him instead. In 1921, he won the Premier prix by unanimous vote at the Paris Conservatory in the class of François Bremond and began his career, playing principal horn with the Colonne Orchestra and the band of the Republican Guard. As a member of the Quintet of Soloists of the Republican Guard, he traveled throughout France and much of Europe, giving over one hundred fifty concerts. For many young French musicians, the idea of becoming a uniformed member of the Musique de la Garde represented the ultimate prestige, as many of the professors from the Paris Conservatory played in its ranks, creating a veritable showcase of the excellence of French wind playing. Devémy remained with the group throughout his career and welcomed several of his students as his colleagues in the horn section.
Interview of the Month - Douglas Hill - performer, pedagogue, composer
Since starting this series a few years ago, it’s always been a desire to interview my former teacher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Douglas Hill. As a performer, pedagogue, author, and composer, he has left his mark on the music world. On a personal level, he helped to shape me as an artist and human being in ways I am still discovering today. The IHS is in the process of acquiring the majority of his compositions and books for our Online Sales, so the time is ripe to share his warm-hearted wisdom with you. -KMT
Kristina Mascher-Turner: A word that often comes up in conversation with you is “gratitude” - you’ve even composed a piece with the same name. Can you tell us about this work and its conception? What are some of the things you are grateful for?
Doug Hill: Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for authors to acknowledge all those who helped them along the way while simply writing a single book? Well then multiply that many times over. I’ve had a good life thanks to Karen, my wonderful wife and musical companion of 52 years, a terrific and loving daughter Emily, some absolutely remarkable teachers and mentors, a diversified and very satisfying career, generous friends and colleagues, many magnificent students, and above average good health. Lots to be grateful for. Without gratitude, griping and grief are allowed way too much room to dominate. The composition you mentioned, titled “Gratitude”, began as the third movement of an octet for horns (“Recollections”), commissioned by Michael Ozment in memory of his father. While writing for him I was revisiting the fact that most of my compositions are autobiographical (that can’t be helped) and are largely rooted in either empathy, compassion, respect, or celebration. The melodies in this piece felt so good to write and have continued to stay with me. I’ve had opportunities to conduct the octet many times, often with my wonderful students, thus revisiting my own feelings of gratitude. Recently I decided to create an unaccompanied version which then evolved into two short preludes entitled “Grace/Gravitas/Gratitude”.
KMT: Let’s go back to where it all started, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Who first set you upon your musical path? What were your earliest influences and experiences?
DH: My parents were wonderfully supportive. Both had musical abilities and encouraged piano for each of us four boys, and band instruments along the way. My older brothers played trombone and cornet, so I tried to be like them and learn to buzz my lips. That made the horn easier for me at age 10 than it should have been. By junior high I was playing tunes. However, my true musical foundation came between the ages of 12 and 14 from Kenneth Freese. He was a man doing exactly what he was meant to do, teaching music to a bunch of junior high school kids. He was there to bang out some chords behind my rendition of “The Beer Barrel Polka”. He showed me how to “slap the bass” and how to read basic chord symbols at the piano. He helped me to notate the tunes that were running through my head, and then he let me show off those “compositions” to audiences full of band parents. By high school I was in a combo playing bass gigs at proms with “Dickie Von and the Softones”, and I had started lessons with Jack Snider, an amazing, tough-love horn teacher at the university. I soon became very active in local jazz combos, playing bass with amazing improvisors like Duane Schulz and his family band, and Dennis Schneider, the trumpet professor at the university, earning some decent money in local nightclubs. All this early stuff laid the groundwork for my diversified career and my respect and love for teaching and teachers, as well as playing horn well, the power of all music, jazz, and great tunes!
Study on facial muscle activity and facial-skin movement while playing the French horn
by Takshi Hirano
While playing a French horn, many facial muscles form a playing-related configuration adjusting to the mouth piece, the so-called “embouchure”. Many French horn players said embouchure is very important to play appropriately. Additionally there are many textbooks related to playing brass instruments written by famous players, and these books noted that how important embouchure is. Therefore all brass players should train and develop their embouchure every day in order to control sounds. However, there are few studies on embouchure with scientific approach. Thus our team investigated the activity of the embouchure-related five facial muscles and facial-skin movement around the mouth during sound production by 10 trained French-horn players.
The research questions are:
- Does facial muscle activity change by pitch and loudness?
- Does embouchure configuration change by pitch and loudness?
We used small surface electromyograms (EMGs) to get facial muscle activity, and small reflecting markers to get the data of changing skin movement. EMGs were attached on the right-side of the face and small markers were attached on the left-side of the face (see Figure). Using his/her own French horn with their mouthpiece, each participant performed four sets of three successive 6 sec sustained tone productions at different levels of sound intensity. We calculated the mean EMGs at two phases; during sound production and just before sound production, and we measured distances of markers attached their face. Consequently, there were no difference in EMGs and distances of markers between the two phases. It suggest an appropriate formation of pre-attack embouchure was important to play the French horn successfully. We assume that an “off-pitch” tone attack on a real stage may be caused by an inappropriate embouchure setting.
EMGs in all muscles while playing the French horn increased linearly with an increase in pitch; they also increased with tone intensity without interacting with the pitch effect. Orofacial skin movement remained constant across all pitches and intensities except for lateral retraction of the lips during high-pitch tone production. Expert opinions on the embouchure muscle contraction vary from keeping relaxed to moderately tensed when engaged in all level of tone, or gradually tensed in relation to the level of pitch and intensity. Our findings clearly support the latter opinion. All facial muscles examined were activated continuously from the pre-attack phase to the end of tone production, and their activation levels were pitch- and intensity-dependent.
If you want to see more information, please check our article.
Hirano T., Kudo K., Ohtsuki T., and Kinoshita H. (2013). Orofacial muscular activity and related skin movement during the preparatory and sustained phases of tone production on the French horn. Motor Control, 17(3), 256-272.
Figure. EMG electrodes were attached on the right side of the face, and kinematic markers were attached on the left side of the face.