Contributed by Esa Tapani, Professor, Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main
By “getting international” we used to mean the success of our best players going out in the world and performing as soloists and chamber musicians. In that respect Scandinavian horn playing has been international for a long time. We have a long list of merited horn players like: Frøydis Ree Wekre, Wilhelm and Ib Lanzky-Otto, Bengt Belfrage, Sören Hermansson, Joe Ognibene, Lisa Ford, Jacob Keiding, Hans Larsson, Markus Maskuniitty, just to mention a few. The success of these players has made Scandinavia known and well respected in the field of horn playing.
Iceland and Finland are the leading countries in developing genomic research. The first European Genome Research Center is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Small group of ancestors, little variation in nutrition and small immigration through the history make Scandinavia ideal for genetic research.
In the 1920s there were no Finnish horn players at all in the Helsinki Philharmonic. Horn players were brought in from Germany and Russia. In the early 1930s Holger Fransman had a chance to play with the Philharmonic. Conductor Robert Kajanus recognizing the talent of young Fransman, sent him to Vienna to study with Karl Stiegler, and the rest is history. Fransman returned to Finland, played and educated many generations of horn players almost single handedly. Shortly after Fransman’s return the Finns took over and there hasn’t been any foreign horn players in the Philharmonic ever since.
The European economy has struggled for quite a while now. In countries like Spain and Italy this has meant a dramatic drop in the supporting of cultural. Many prominent cultural institutions have been shut down or they are forced to make big cuts in their spending. This has forced many talented horn players to look for jobs internationally. We feel the change also in Scandinavia. More and more international applicants are joining the battle for the Scandinavian dream jobs (decent pay including health care for the whole family, eight week paid holiday, free education for your children). In Sweden we have already seen multiple horn auditions with no Swedes advancing to the second round.
The increasing competition for jobs challenges small countries. With our very thin genetic background we have to make the right choices and develop our skills to meet the international standards of today. I welcome the challenge, since there is no room for national boundaries in arts. I was once asked in an interview, how many nationalities I have in my Frankfurt class among my students. I told the reporter that I have only one nationality – music.