IHS Commisions a Major New Work

Beyond Autumn, a critically acclaimed work by Joseph Schwantner.

William Scharnberg

(Excerpted from the original article which appeared in the pdf November 1999 issue of The Horn Call)


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Jospeh Schwantner

An important ten-year project has finally come to fruition and it is with great pleasure that I was asked to review the premiere of the first major concerto commissioned by the International Horn Society. The courage of the officers and members of the IHS Advisory Council over the course of the past decade, any one of whom could have bailed out on this project, should be lauded. It was a great gamble, but with the International Horn Society's mighty financial and artistic bow and Joseph Schwantner's true compositional arrow, we have hit the bull's-eye!

Thursday evening, September 30, 1999, in the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, a beautiful building designed by I. M. Pei, an audience gathered for a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, including the premiere of Beyond Autumn: Poem for Horn and Orchestra by Joseph Schwantner. Also on the menu were Haydn's Symphony No. 82 and Tchaikowsky's Symphony No. 2, wisely programmed to contrast the premiere and afford the orchestra a good amount of rehearsal time on the difficulties of the new concerto. The soloist was Gregory Hustis and the conductor, Andrew Litton.

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E.C. Lewy and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony Premiere

by Theodore Albrecht

*A fully footnoted version of this article may be found in The Horn Call: pdf Volume XXIX, No. 3, May 1999


Premiere performances of soon-to-be-recognized masterpieces often gather about them a body of legend colored by hindsight and more than a little wishful thinking. After its first performance on May 7, 1824, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony soon became the subject of many such reminiscences and reports.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the fourth horn solo in the third movement of the Ninth had developed its own lore. As Richard Hofmann recounted in his 1893 Praktische Instrumentationslehre:

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Biking Across North America With a Horn

by Christopher Owen


I am what you would call an "advanced amateur," meaning that if I clam, I still have my day job. I play first horn in an excellent community orchestra, in Keene, New Hampshire, where we perform for a loyal and enthusiastic audience, in a refurbished theater with a flashing marquee.

It's a great gig. My colleagues in the orchestra are witty and serious; those qualities produce both warm-hearted laughter and inspired music-making. Sometimes in rehearsal I pray a thanks to God for the gift of music and for the opportunity to play.

I wasn't always an advanced amateur. When I started on the horn again in my late twenties, after a fifteen year hiatus, I was just plain bad. The only prayers of thanksgiving in those days came from my neighbors--when I was done with my daily half-hour honk. Still, I improved, and with lessons I improved even faster. Therefore, when I decided I wanted to ride my bicycle across the United States from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, I also decided that I would need to take my horn. I was determined not to lose any ground in my quest to be a good horn player, and I felt that two months without playing would be too long. The horn would come with me on the bike.

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Birth of the Gliere Concerto

Valeriy Polekh


polekhReinhold Gliere was a modest, reserved, and refined person. No carelessness either in his clothes or in his manners. Thick eyebrows. A tender and friendly look in expressive brown eyes, lips ready for a smile.

By 1951, the year in which Gliere wrote his concerto, I had already been a performer for ten years. I started in March 1941 after I won a prize at the Moscow competition, and, though still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, I dreamt of playing solo and performing in concerts. In the Moscow competition, I played Variations Brillantes by Henry Gottwald and Les Dernieres Pensées by Weber. I had the full command of a virtuoso and was able to play with sounds as I liked, but my colleagues reproached me for insufficient care for the beauty of the sound. Because I wanted to become a solo performer, I had to learn how to sing on the horn. So I began taking vocal lessons. I mastered bel canto and strong breath, and then applied all that to the horn. I was awarded first prize at the 1949 International Competition in Budapest. By that time I had a fairly broad repertoire, but today it seems to have been just a prelude to a great composition--that superb concerto which Gliere wrote for the horn.

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It's Never Too Late

by Kerry Geddes and Kieg Garvin


I am an amateur musician whose musical experience prior to February 1996 had amounted to two years of piano lessons as a child, twenty-one years of amateur choral singing, and a university music degree in which my 'instrument' was the voice.

In those days, singing was my musical passion, but I had often contemplated the idea of playing some type of brass instrument. There were various amateur choirs, both university-based and others, which anyone with limited vocal experience could join, in order to ease themselves into a satisfying and ultimately rewarding musical activity, and this was the way I started. However there were no equivalents that I knew of in the instrumental field. As we all know, normally an instrumental musician must be of a satisfactory proficiency level before having any hope of joining an orchestra or other ensemble.

Realistically then, as a mature adult I could not see myself becoming proficient enough with an instrument to be able to successfully audition for a position in any skilled ensemble, so I never acted upon my instrumental contemplations. Then in 1996, a friend who was the musical director at a local high school, in an attempt to encourage me further, gave me the chance to try out some of the school's brass instruments on my own. I was initially apprehensive about his suggestion to try the horn, because I had heard that it was a difficult instrument to learn, but I had always loved its sound, so when I was shown the rudiments of how to blow it and actually managed to produce a tentative C major scale, I was well on the way to becoming hooked.

Read more: It's Never Too Late