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Kyle Hayes, Editor

Items of interest by and for young horn players. Those interested in contributing to the HornZone should contact Kyle Hayes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

150 Great Recordings - Part III: Fifty Great Orchestral Recordings

by Matthew Haislip, D.M.A.


Rounding out my series of 150 great recordings is Part III: Fifty Great Orchestral Recordings. This was the most challenging list to create by far. I spent many months carefully listening to countless recordings and asking for recommendations to make sure I was sufficiently informed before finishing this list. The process led to many wonderful discoveries. I felt like a student again; listening to the same pieces played by different ensembles for days on end. It was exciting and fun!

In order to limit myself to fifty recordings, I decided to only choose CDs of orchestral music. This eliminated many outstanding operatic, ballet, film music, and wind band options that could comprise many individual lists in each category as well. In order to create some diversity of orchestras and pieces listed, I had to leave off some of my very favorite CDs. I did not seek to form a representative list of the “Top 50” of our orchestral excerpts with this list. Instead, I listed some of my favorite recordings across the repertoire that feature inspiring phrasing, sound, color, dynamic contrast, intonation, blend and balance in the horn section from an extensive range of ensembles. There is broad representation of stylistic traditions on this list, and it features orchestras from across the world. This speaks to the great wealth of exciting and inspiring recordings that are available to us as horn players.

It is my hope that this list and this series helps hornists old and young discover exciting recordings that they have not yet heard. We have such a wonderful world of recordings! Happy listening!

  • American Horn Quartet, Sinfonia Varsovia and Dariusz Wiśniewski: Concertos for Four Horns: Schumann: Konzertstück for 4 horns and orchestra in F major Op. 86, Handel: Concerto in F major HWV 331, Telemann: Overture "Alster-Echo" in F major and Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 31 in D major, Label: Naxos
  • Beethoven Orchester Bonn and Stefan Blunier: Schmidt: Symphony No. 2 and Richard Strauss: Festliches Praeludium, Op.61 (live), Label: MDG
  • Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Simon Rattle: Mahler: Symphony No. 5 (live), Label: EMI Classics
  • Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Simon Rattle: Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben (live) and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Label: Warner Classics
  • Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 and No. 11 “The Year 1905” (live), Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Claudio Abbado: Mahler: Symphony No. 5, Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fritz Reiner: Respighi: Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome and Debussy: La Mer, Label: RCA Victor Living Stereo
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti: Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Label: London/Decca (the 1986 recording; not the 1972 recording on the same label)
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Sir Georg Solti: Mahler: Symphony No. 1, Label: Decca
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and JesúsLópez Cobos: Respighi: Church Windows, Brazilian Impressions and Roman Festivals, Label: Telarc
  • City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle: Mahler: Symphony No. 2, Label: EMI Classics
  • Cleveland Orchestra and Christoph von Dohnányi: Dvorák: Symphony No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 and Scherzo Capriccioso, Label: London/Decca
  • Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell: Mahler: Symphony No. 6 “Tragic” (live), Label: Sony Classical
  • Consort of London and Robert Haydon Clark: J. S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No.1, No. 2 and No. 3 (Richard Bissill plays No. 1 and No. 2 on horn), Label: Edgestone Classics
  • Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton: Mahler: Symphony No. 4, Label: Delos
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Antal Dorati: Stravinsky: Petrouchka and Le Sacre Du Printemps, Label: London/Decca
  • The English Concert and Trevor Pinnock: Handel: Music For The Royal Fireworks and Concerti A Due Cori, Label: Arkiv Production
  • Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Neeme Järvi: Atterberg: Symphony No. 4 and No. 6, Suite No. 3 for Violin, Viola and Strings and A Värmland Rhapsody, Label: Chandos
  • Houston Symphony Orchestra and Christoph Eschenbach: Brahms: Symphony No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4, Alto Rhapsody, Academic Festival Overture, Tragic Overture and Haydn Variations, Label: Virgin Classics
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 and No. 5 (live), Label: London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis: Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 (live), Label: LSO Live
  • London Symphony Orchestra and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos: Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie and Vier Letzte Lieder, Label: Collins Classics
  • London Symphony Orchestra and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos: Stravinsky: La Sacre du Printemps and Petrouchka, Label: Collins Classics
  • London Symphony Orchestra and Jascha Horenstein: Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 (live), Label: BBC Legends
  • London Symphony Orchestra and István Kertész: Dvorák: Symphony No. 5, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9, Label: Decca
  • London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas: Mahler: Symphony No. 7, Label: RCA Victor Red Seal
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen: Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major, “Romantic”, Label: Sony Classical
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Andreas Delfs: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 (live), Label: MSO Classics
  • New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur: Dvorák: Symphony No. 8 and Janácek: Sinfonietta (live), Label: Teldec
  • New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein: Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (live), Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and John Eliot Gardiner: Schumann: Symphony No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4, Overture, Scherzo and Finale and Concertstück for 4 Horns and Orchestra, Label: Archiv Produktion
  • Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Charles Dutoit: Respighi: Pines of Rome, Fountains of Rome and Feste Romane, Label: London/Decca
  • Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Pascal Rogé and Charles Dutoit: Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Pavane pour une infante défunte, La valse, Piano Concerto in G major,  Le tombeau de Couperin, Valses nobles et sentimentales, Menuet antique, Fanfare for orchestra, Bolèro, Alborada del Gracioso, Ma mère l'oye, Miroirs, Rhapsodie espagnole, L'enfant et les sortilèges, Shéhérazade, Ouverture de féerie "Shéhérazade" and Piano Concerto in D major (for the left hand), Label: Decca
  • Philadelphia Orchestra and James Levine: Mahler: Symphony No. 9, Label: RCA
  • Philadelphia Orchestra, Mstislav Rostropovich and Eugene Ormandy: Shostakovich: Concerto for Cello in E-flat and Symphony No. 1 in F Major, Label: Sony Classical
  • Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen: Stravinsky: Le Sacre du printemps and Symphony in Three Movements, Label: Sony Classical
  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck: Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 (live), Label: Reference Recordings
  • Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Marek Janowski: Brahms: Symphony No. 1 and Haydn Variations (live), Label: Pentatone Music
  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 and No. 7 “Leningrad” and Festive Overture, Label: Decca
  • Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Neeme Järvi: Richard Strauss: Symphonic Poems, Volume 2: Symphonia Domestica, Till Eulenspiegel, Macbeth, Don Quixote and Also Sprach Zarathustra, Label: Chandos
  • Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson: John Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places (live), Label: Nonesuch
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt: Hindemith: Mathis der Maler, Symphonic Metamorphosis and Trauermusik, Label: London/Decca
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt: Sibelius: Symphony No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7, Tapiola and Valse triste, Label: Decca
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt: Richard Strauss: Ein Alpensinfonie and Don Juan, Label: London/Decca
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas: Mahler: Symphony No. 3 (live), Label: San Francisco Symphony
  • San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas: Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet - Scenes from The Ballet (live), Label: RCA Victor Red Seal
  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Claudio Abbado: Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale” and No. 8 (live), Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Leonard Bernstein: Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” and “Fidelio” Overture, Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Carlos Kleiber: Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 and No. 7, Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and André Previn: Richard Strauss: Rosenkavalier Suite, Intermezzo, Salome and Capriccio, Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Dr. Matthew Haislip is a hornist, teacher, and composer currently residing in Starkville, Mississippi. He serves as Assistant Professor of Horn at Mississippi State University, and he teaches at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp during the summer months. He is a founding member of Quintasonic Brass, and he holds degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, and Texas A&M University-Commerce. He recently published a set of duets through Mountain Peak Music entitled Dueling Fundamentals for Two Horns. His personal website may be found at www.matthaislip.com.

Matthew is a Yamaha Performing Artist.

Using Subdivision Musically: A Practice Guide for the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 Horn Solo

by Jonas Thoms, Assistant Professor of Horn, West Virginia University


The horn solo from the second movement of Symphony No. 5 by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky is one of the most famous horn solos in the entire repertoire. It is regularly asked for in professional auditions for every part in the horn section and is something that every horn player must be able to perform excellently.

 The excerpt requires musicality and expression, dynamic control, and contains many tempo changes. A successful performance of this excerpt requires repetition of advance planning of the treatment of crescendi, changes in pulse, and musical decisions. The marking for the movement is “Andante cantabile, con alcuna licenza.” “Andante” is a moderately slow tempo, “cantabile” means “songlike,” and “con alcuna licenza” means “with some freedom.” The performer should treat this solo as a melody to a beautiful song and feel free to interpret musical elements to make the solo uniquely their own.

 Throughout this practice routine, eighth note subdivisions will be played for any note longer than an eighth. Treat these subdivisions as expressive at all times rather than metronomic. Using this technique, increase the volume in crescendi by ensuring that each note is louder than the previous note. Follow the same practice for decrescendi and pulse changes. This will ensure continuity in these expressive elements.

Read more: Using Subdivision Musically: A Practice Guide for the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 Horn Solo

Series: 150 Great Recordings - Part II

Part II: Fifty Great Chamber Music Recordings
By Matthew Haislip, D.M.A.


Part two in my series is a list of fifty of my favorite recordings that feature the horn in chamber music settings. In order to limit the possibilities, I chose to exclude strictly jazz or popular music ensemble CDs. There are, however, numerous CDs in those categories that deserve attention, including those by Arkady Shilkloper, Tom Varner, Vincent Chancey, Adam Unsworth, Genghis Barbie, Julius Watkins, and Adam Wolf, among others.

In the first list, I featured over fifty different soloists, with some CDs featuring several horn soloists. In this list, I chose to feature more than one CD by the same artists in some instances. My aim was to feature fifty of my favorite recordings, and I did not attempt to include a representative recording of each of the most significant pieces for the horn in chamber music. I selected some CDs of transcriptions, as the technical brilliance on those CDs is electrifying. The artists on this list demonstrate peak levels of virtuosity, musicianship, blend, balance, intonation, and phrasing. There is overlap of chamber music and solo repertoire in some CDs from the first and second lists. For example, Marie Luise Neunecker’s spectacular recording of the Britten Serenade is on the solo CD list, as it also features both of the Strauss Horn Concerti, and Lowell Greer’s definitive natural horn recording of the Beethoven Horn Sonata is on this list, as the Brahms Horn Trio is also on that CD.

This list was challenging to assemble. Many equally fantastic recordings were not chosen. At another time, I would likely choose a very different list. My final list in this series will feature fifty of my favorite orchestral recordings. These recordings are organized by alphabetical order of performers or ensemble. Happy listening!

Read more: Series: 150 Great Recordings - Part II

Series: 150 Great Recordings - Part 1

Part I: Fifty Great Solo Horn Recordings

By Matthew Haislip, D.M.A.


We live in an unprecedented time. Music is instantly available to us at our fingertips. YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, and other online music mediums allow users to hear practically any known piece of music in music history whenever they desire. As these platforms have increased in popularity, the traditional physical recording format has diminished. This access to music has done some good for musicians. Unlimited access to music is educationally invaluable. YouTube can bring out the humanity of live performance where sterilized and edited recordings have often unintentionally manufactured a perception that absolute perfection as achievable and expected. A hungry student of the horn has exponentially more resources than students of any other generation have ever had.

At the same time, this on-demand access has potentially caused some harm for musicians as well. The most obvious harm is the loss of royalties for recorded music. The financial return to artists is not fair, and it is often bypassed completely. Another potential problem this availability has created is that there is now a muddled sea of music and videos online, and it is growing wider and wider. It might be challenging for a listener to discover great recordings when views or popularity is the primary metric for search engine results.

I would like to help alleviate these issues by offering a series of three articles in which I provide my recommendation of 150 of my favorite commercially released Compact Discs. Part one in this series features fifty of my favorite solo horn albums. These recordings primarily consist of traditional works, transcriptions, or arrangements for solo horn in the context of horn alone and/or in collaboration with an orchestra or a piano. Part two will feature fifty chamber music CDs, and part three will feature fifty orchestral music CDs. Many of the artists on this list have other equally worthwhile recordings, but I have only listed one recording for each artist for this first list. Additionally, there are numerous long play (LP) records that have not been converted to CD that hornists should know as well. The argument could be made that LPs sound better than digital recordings, however, many people do not have access to a record player, and artists are still releasing CDs today, so my lists will only feature CDs.

Read more: Series: 150 Great Recordings - Part 1

Don't Neglect Your Sight-reading!

by Kyle Hayes


Being able to sight-read is one of the most important skills in your toolbox as a musician. A lot of music instructors will say it is the most important skill. The reason is because if you can sight-read well, you are demonstrating that you have fluency in all of your key signatures, you understand all of your rhythms and are subdividing, all of those technical exercises that you’ve been drilling in your private lessons and your band classes have been mastered, and your musicality is at a level where you can read expression markings and make a phrase really come to life.

When I was in school, I never really paid that much attention to how well I was able to sight-read because we always had weeks of rehearsal before we gave a concert. I was at the top of my sections in high school and college band and orchestra, taking gigs, and was always asked to be in chamber groups. I thought I had it all figured out.  “Rehearsal is where you come to learn your part, right?” was my way of thinking. Man, I have never been more wrong. In graduate school my teacher would always impress upon us the idea that we had to sight-read with 80% accuracy if we even wanted to consider having a career as a professional musician. I can’t tell you how many times I would go home after playing duets with him and questioning whether or not I had it in me- my sight-reading was absolutely terrible. Sure, I had some church gigs where you show up an hour before the church service to have a quick rehearsal of the big choir pieces, but the hymns where played on the fly. I survived, so I didn’t really pay attention to really developing sight-reading as an actual tool.

Read more: Don't Neglect Your Sight-reading!

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