I got interested in composition at a very early age, sketching the first pieces at 14 years old. I then focused on my horn studies and only later, when I started teaching the horn, the seed of creativity planted years ago started to flourish motivated by the lack of repertoire in some pedagogical areas of the instrument.
In my compositions, you can listen to influences from jazz to world music, including sonorities that are similar to Arkady Shilkloper, a horn player whose work I admire very much. I had some lessons with the jazz saxophone player Mario Santos, and this experience played a major role in my style of composition. In my pedagogical compositions, my experience as a teacher is also present, where on a daily basis I observe the students’ difficulties. Therefore I create challenges that allow them to overcome those difficulties or at least to start to tame this wild instrument.
The etudes were the first area I approached. Etudes are essential to the very basis of any horn player's technical and interpretative formation. Unlike what the name suggests, etudes are meant to be studied However, students tend to forget their value and prefer only to practice pieces. That made me think of a way to encourage students to practice them. To make it more interesting, I used different sonorities in order to keep them interested. If we need to practice every single day, let’s at least have some fun with it!
All my pedagogical compositions have a common idea: no one can evolve if everything is too easy or too difficult. We need to find a proper balance that allows evolution. A piece that is difficult or very difficult in some aspects, should be easy or even very easy on others. Several of my compositions might look too difficult on first approach, but once you look closely you’ll see that’s not so. There are just some elements that make them look harder than they really are.
I wrote 50 etudes in 4 books, two of them dedicated to Arkady Shilkloper. There’s a low horn book dedicated to Sarah Willis and a very curious book that includes 13 etudes inspired by good/bad luck situations. Nevertheless, horn playing has nothing to do with good or bad luck; it is all about practicing.
I became so interested in the subject of etudes that my master dissertation was a “Selected and annotated bibliography of etudes published between 1950 and 2011”.
Thinking about the younger ones, I compiled 25 children’s songs adapted to the horn range for both F and Bb horn. This way, beginners can now get started on the horn with a very easy book, on a limited range (f-a’), and with an auditive reference since the students already know most of these songs. Duo versions (teacher/student) and easy etudes complement this publication.
The scales were not forgotten: in my book “I like to practice scales!” I present some exercises with a step-by-step methodology but with a different approach, focusing on the practice and not on the theory, like the process of learning your mother tongue. I also have an almost finished colossal exercises project called horn365, but you will hear more about that soon…
In the chamber music domain, I wrote 5 funny suites for horn and piano for the basic and intermediate level with great emphasis on rhythmical elements but without, intentionally, exploring too much the range. Two of these suites were written for the low range, helping to fill this repertoire gap for intermediate level students interested in improving their low range or those temporarily with a limited high range due to an orthodontic treatment.
Man shall not live on bread alone, and horn players shall not only play in the high range! The horn is a very capable instrument. It presents its challenges, but I believe it is not explored enough through composition since it has a very broad range, with an incredible low range. Students and composers have neglected this. The extended techniques, when used in an idiomatic manner also allow a whole new world of possibilities. Being a horn player and knowing my instrument very well allows me to use a broad palette of effects in my compositions, always keeping in mind the highest yield with the minimum effort.
My compositional process is free, sometimes chaotic; but I believe that creativity and chaos run side by side. If we travel the same path every day and do the exact same thing every day, there’s no room to be creative. Choosing an alternative path always pays off, even if it is a dead end - on the path you have the chance to discover the inspiration for the next piece. For me, even more important is the audacity of trying, because creative changes only occur through human action. Inspiration comes to me from different experiences, even if they don’t have anything to do with music, often 5 minutes before leaving home, during a car trip or other unfriendly compositional situation. Instead of wasting time complaining, I pick up my mobile phone and record it or write it down on a piece of paper seizing the spontaneity of the moment. I go back later to those ideas. Somehow it works - the reviews from the public and performers have been frankly positive. Some of my works have already received distinctions at national and international competitions. As I didn’t attend any specific composition course, I feel I have the advantage of not needing to follow a specific compositional style or having to use a determinate compositional technique simply because I have to. Music comes to me, and I simply write it down on paper, having fun during the process. I only ask the performers to read what I literally wrote in black and white and to add colors through their interpretation, offering music to the public, but, above all, having fun while doing it.
Ricardo Matosinhos’ website: http://www.ricardomatosinhos.com
Caravan from the 7 Horn Duos
Etudes - Ricardo Matosinhos
Low Horn Suite (no.1) for Horn and Piano
Ricardo Matosinhos was born in 1982.
He studied horn with professor Ivan Kučera at the Esproarte (1994-2000), Mirandela, Portugal and with professor Bohdan Sebestik at the Superior School of Music and Performing Arts (2000-2004) in Oporto, Portugal. Ricardo graduated from ESMAE in 2004, where he received the Student of the Year prize in 2003/2004. In 2012, Ricardo presented his master dissertation entitled “Annotated Bibliography of Horn Etudes published Between 1950-2011” at Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Curiosity about the possibilities of the horn in jazz led him to take lessons with saxophonist Mário Santos. This experience would play a major role in his style of composition. In 1998 he won a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which he kept until his graduation. Ricardo taught several masterclasses and workshops all over Portugal and also in the Czech Republic. He played as guest with orchestras including Filarmonia das Beiras Orchestra, Musicare Chamber Orchestra, Orquestra do Norte, Remix Orchestra, Remix Ensemble and Orquestra Nacional do Porto.
Ricardo wrote several teaching materials for horn but also some music works for other instruments.
His music works were recognized in several composition contests both in Portugal and abroad.
Ricardo is currently teaching at the Academia de Música de Costa Cabral (Oporto, Portugal) and attending the PhD program in Music and Musicology at the University of Évora.
He is a member of the International Horn Society.