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|Volume 2 Issue 4, April 2016|
One of the best and most respected horn traditions of horn playing from around the world is without doubt that of Hungary and it is in that direction we are turning our attention in this month’s Horn & More.
I have fond memories myself of my visits to Hungary, like meeting Ádám Friedrich and working with his class in Budapest 15 or so years ago – and meeting at the same time the wonderful young horn player called Nagy Zsolt, who composed ‘Happy Blues’ and the Bach’ Toccata & Fugue in D-Minor for solo horn!
My visits to Miscolc will always stick in my memory, especially the wonderful chamber orchestra there and performing with them together with David Johnstone.
In this month’s E-Newsletter we will hear an interview with the 1st Horn of the Budapest Festival Horn Quartet (and Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra) Miklós Nagy. Many of you will know Miklós Nagy through his extraordinary high register and his many astonishing performances with the superb BFHQ.
An archive letter from Philip Farkas to Ádám Friedrich will give readers a wonderful insight into their relationship, a quarter of a century ago. We take an exciting look into the Fullbright scholarship project by Natalie Douglas on the Kodàly method, and watch a video of the wonderful musician Szabolc Zemplini playing the Horn Concerto #3 by Frigyes Hidas.
Something for everyone in this special feature on the deeply historic Hungarian tradition of horn playing.
Our featured craftsman this month in the “Meet Your Makers” column is Engelbert Schmid, so if you haven’t yet caught up with the many online videos of his horn making in Mindelzell, then here are some insights into his innovations in striving for perfection in the horn-manufacturing world.
Man Yi of China gives us some pedagogical tips so stay tuned!
With the 48th International Symposium just around the corner it falls to me to remind those of you intending to be there with us in Ithaca, that the closing date for online registrations is 18th May and that it is not possible so register on site in Ithaca! So don’t leave it any longer to get your names down for what promises to be a truly wonderful Symposium in the green and verdant pastures of Ithaca, New York!
DO NOT MISS OUR BIGGEST EVENT OF THE YEAR!
THE IHS SUMMER SYMPOSIUM 2016
ITHACA, NEW YORK - JUNE 13-18
Register now and check the website often as more information gets added. This is going to be an exciting and packed event.
Online Registration ends May 18!
See you there!
A Letter from Philip Farkas
This month, the IHS E-Newlsetter has a special treat for you, a piece of correspondence between two legends, Hungarian soloist and pedagogue, Ádám Friedrich, and Philip Farkas (of Hungarian ancestry himself.) The two met and got to know each other at the IHS symposium in Denton, Texas in 1991. You can clearly see his personal warmth and appreciation of sincere musicality in these lines. Many thanks to Prof. Ádám Friedrich for sharing this gem with us. (Note that Hungarians list their last name first, which is why the letter starts with “Dear Friedrich!”)
PHILIP F. FARKAS
October 4, 1991
What a happy surprise it was when your nice letter and photograps arrived yesterday. I am so pleased to have these souvenirs of our meeting in Denton, Texas at the Horn Workshop.
The photos not only reminded me that I now have a new friend… you, but also it reminds me of the way you play the horn. Yours was the most sensitive and musical performance of all the players. Some of them „showed off” with their wonderful technique, range, etc. But often I found it unsatisfactory in spite of this virtuosity. Why? Because it wasn’t always musical. Your playing was the most satisfying of all with your warm and expressive phrasing. It was musically very satisfying. I hope to hear you again and again, as to me this is the real sense of beautiful horn playing. The photos I will treasure. I enjoy your laugh at my making you pose for the embouchure photo. After all it is important to know about the embouchure that creates such great playing.
Please don’t worry about my not coming to Hungary. I realise what very difficult financial problems are faced in Hungary at this time. But one of these days my wife and I will take a holiday in Hungary as I feel very strongly the urge to see my father’s homeland. And now we have one more incentive to come to Hungary – our new friend Friedrich Ádám.
You did not say in your letter whether you will attend the next horn workshop in Manchester, England. But I hope very fervently that you will plan to attend. I would look forward to this very eagerly.
Again, thanks for your thoughfulness in sending the letter and pictures. I appreciate it very much.
My best regards and good wishes go with this letter.
Video of the Month
Teachers Take Note
A scam email to members of the IHS Teachers Database is currently making the rounds, claiming to want lessons for someone. In general, the scam will eventually lead to a request for your bank account information in order to make payments (usually of large amounts). This is a scam. You should never give out personal or financial information. A parent seeking lessons, will be able to answer questions such as “What city are you in?” or “What school does your child attend?” Any legitimate person seeking lessons for their child would eagerly respond to these kind of follow up conversations, but the scammers will always make excuses and try to get back to discussing payment and your financial information.
Miklós Nagy Interview
For our Hungary issue, I needed look no further than the cantina of our Philharmonie. My good friend and colleague Miklós Nagy (Miki to his pals) is solo horn of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, as well as being a renowned soloist and member of the Budapest Festival Horn Quartet. We met recently and discussed his education, influences, philosophy, and of course, those famous high notes. Egészségére! -KMT
Kristina Mascher-Turner: So, Miki, the first thing our readers will want to know is, how do you play those high notes? What's your secret?
Miklós Nagy: There is no secret, I think. When I was young, I loved Baroque music very much. I listened to more trumpet than horn music. I especially loved Maurice André - his recordings, his performances, his high playing. I tried to translate this kind of playing to the horn. Unfortunately I couldn't play the trumpet, but I looked for Baroque horn music and bought a lot of Hans Pizka's editions of unknown Baroque concertos, over 20 pieces. This influenced my high horn playing. Objectively, the high horn needs a trumpet-style embouchure. The horn embouchure makes it very difficult to play above high C or D - even the best players have trouble with this. Another factor is the descant horn. If you play above the 12th natural overtone, it's hard, and a lot of mistakes can happen. When I was 18 years old and went to the Music Academy, I didn't have my own instrument. There was an old Alexander 107 descant horn in storage at the school. The valves didn't work, and it was in bad shape. I rebuilt it and started to play it, and immediately the high notes came easier and better than before. Also, my first teacher at the Music Academy, Imre Magyarí, was a good high horn player who could play many Baroque concertos without mistakes. He told me I could do it too. I wanted to imitate him. I trained myself day by day, always one half tone higher, one half tone higher, played Bach and Handel orchestral excerpts, found exercises to train the high horn. I trained almost every day in this way.
KMT: So, in other words, there's no shortcut - you don't wake up in the morning and go, "Ding! I've got that top octave!"
MN: No, unfortunately not. (laughs)
KMT: While we're talking about that, can you tell us about your early musical education? I understand in Hungary, this begins at a very young age.
MN: In my day, in the 1950's-1980's, we had the Kodály pedagogy system. All children had to study music. At the elementary school, there were two separate classes, the normal and the music classes. And the parents could select one of them.
KMT: So, it was the parents who chose, not the child?
MN: The parents chose. My mother loves classical music. She had season tickets for the Budapest Opera House. She never played an instrument, but she loved it. So she chose the music class for me. Every day we had music lessons - singing, solfège, chorus - and from the second grade (age 7) we started a musical instrument. My music teacher told me, "You are quite tall, left-handed...go to the horn teacher." So she took me to the horn teacher. The horn teacher gave me a horn and a mouthpiece, and said,"Come next week and play." This is my short story of starting the horn at the age of 7.
KMT: What was your first instrument?
MN: It was a Josef Lidl Brno F/compensating Bb horn. Lidl Brno, very bad instrument. I have one at home now. (Laughter)
KMT: You still have it!
MN: On the wall!
KMT: Who were your most influential teachers?
Advisory Council Elections close April 15
IHS members! - Don't miss the opportunity to vote for your choices for the IHS Advisory Council. You may vote online at www.hornsociety.org by following the link on the front page, or by mailing in the post card that was included in the February issue of The Horn Call.
Lesson with Yi Man
by Yi Man
Kodály Pedagogy and the Horn
by Natalie Douglass
“To teach a child an instrument without first giving him preparatory training and without developing singing, reading and dictating to the highest level along with the playing is to build upon sand.”
I have experienced a bit of culture shock since arriving in Hungary, but not necessarily in the way you might think. While I have limited Hungarian vocabulary and I am thousands of miles from my hometown near Chicago, it has been the experience of jumping into vocalist culture that has made me feel like a foreigner. I felt completely lost walking into the first day of choral rehearsal, normally just orienting myself by finding four chairs in front of the timpani. A kind soul directed me to the mezzo-soprano section, where I have remained ever since.
So why I am interested in Kodály, then as a horn player? I first became interested in Kodály pedagogy while conducting my doctoral research. My own frustrations as a young horn player inspired me to consider how we might correct the “wrong-partial” syndrome that causes so many beginners to quit. While investigating methods of teaching solfege to children, I was immediately taken with the Kodály Concept. The method is vocally based, which means that the ranges are very suitable for horn playing and lend themselves exceptionally well to the tried-and-true progression of sing-buzz-play.
It seemed to me that it was time for some materials that integrate this approach to solfege and musicianship into horn instruction. So, I applied for a U.S. Fulbright grant to attend the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Kecskemet, Hungary, Kodály’s hometown. The faculty consists of world authorities on the Kodály Method, most of whom also teach at the affiliate Liszt Ferenc Academy in Budapest, as well.
Meet Your Makers
"Meet Your Makers" - Engelbert Schmid
The story of how I came to the horn is a funny one. It shows how tiny incidents can alter the course of a life. My father had played trumpet in his local brass band. Though he was a war invalid and didn't play any more by the time I was small, he told me, “My boy, when you get bigger, I’ll buy you a trumpet!” Simple and clear – it was decided! But a few years later, when I was 11, he died, the plan for me to play the trumpet dying with him. I don't know why.
I was born in 1954 in the village of Mindelzell in Bavaria, the third son on a small farm – too small to make a living from, but just big enough for our family to live off. Since my father was wounded in the war, we 3 sons had to do all the work, together with our mother. We all had to toil hard to make ends meet. It was a hard but happy childhood, full of lessons for life!
When my older brothers were big enough to work alone, our village teacher insisted on sending me to high school (Gymnasium in German,) a boarding school 50 km away. Since my father couldn't afford the 150 Deutschmarks for tuition, the director agreed to take half of the fee for 6 months, pending my exam results. I was top of my class and received a scholarship up till the age of 16. After that, I made my living playing the horn.
But what brought me to the horn? At the boarding school, there was a tradition (still is) that every pupil had to learn an instrument. By the way, this is the St. Stephan School in Augsburg, and the school orchestra travels to the USA almost every year on a concert tour. The music teachers at that time had all studied piano and violin, and they made the good singers study those instruments too. I was a bad singer, so to my great good fortune, was allowed to choose an instrument for myself.
Why was I a bad singer? I sang a lot before I went to high school, and many professional vocalists tell me I would have been good, based on my speaking voice. Our teacher, however, was of the opinion that only girls could sing well. She was rude to the boys, so we boys didn't like to sing. And when a boy would enjoy singing, the others would beat him after school. So I unlearned how to sing. This was the luckiest thing that happened to me, as it turns out.
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