The Leningrad School of Horn Playing

by Frøydis Ree Wekre
originally published in Volume X, No.1, October 1979

A new cultural center was established in Russia with the birth of St. Petersburg in 1703. St. Petersburg remained closely related to her sister city, Moscow the original capitol. which developed as an important commercial center, upheld the great Bolshoi Theater, and carried on its fine tradition for dramatic arts.

The role of the arts in Russia at this time was changing and acquiring a new more active and prestigious position. Aristocrats already involved in the arts continued their support of theaters and chamber orchestras. The Royal Court at St. Petersburg housed the Court “Kapella" which provided musical working grounds through the use of some traditional though unsystematic Russian methods. Many talented foreign artists and students at the Court “Kapella" helped to influence and develop the internationally recognized Russian style as we know it today.

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A History of Horn Choirs in the United States

by Anthony Schons

Most of the information about the early history of horn choirs comes from Norman Schweikert. In his publication in The Horn Call , he discusses how the hunting horn tradition, particularly in France and Germany, did not immediately take hold in the United States. The idea of the horn ensemble, mainly quartets at this point, arrived in the United States from Europe in ballets and operas.1 There are many operas and some ballets featuring hunting horn ensembles, with the “Hunting Chorus” from Der Freischutz leading the way. These non-academically affiliated ensembles grew in popularity through numerous performances which lead to the first US horn clubs that centered around the literature for the horn quartet.2 This stabilized for many years and eventually evolved into the first organized horn ensemble of more than four horn players. This ensemble, the Echo Club, was started in New York in 1900 by 44 horn players who were participating in a concert put on by the Aschenbroedel-Verein to raise funds to assist those affected by a hurricane that had damaged Galveston, Texas on September 8th and 9th of that year.3 The Aschenbroedel-Verein served as a sort of musicians union in that day, and the Echo Club was a club for horn players inside of the larger Aschenbroedel club. The next performance, which was reviewed by the Musical Courier, took place on April 28th, 1901 to benefit the Aschenbroedel Vernin sick fund.4 A year later, on May 4th, 1902, the Echo Club performed on another concert that benefited the clubs sick fund.5 This concert was again reviewed positively by the Musical Courier. The last public concert, known to the author, happened on March 8, 1909. The New York Times wrote that “...The twenty- four members of the New York Echo Club played a Beethoven hymn and Schantl's 'Hunters Drinking Song'...”6 The final mention of the club, as believed by Schweikert, was in an obituary in 1921 about an Echo Club member funeral where a “double horn quartet” performed Koschat's “Verlassen”.7

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The Adult Amateur Experience

A View From Both Teacher and Student

by Lynn Steeves and Tina Barkan

A Teacher's Perspective

Over the course of this past year I have had the pleasure of teaching Tina Barkan, an adult amateur hornist who began playing horn again after a 30-year hiatus. Although I have taught a wide age range of students, from fourth grade to the collegiate level, this was my first experience teaching someone older than myself, and I would like to share the valuable lessons I have learned through this experience.

Side Note: Although most of these suggestions can be applied to all horn students, they seem particularly applicable when teaching an adult.

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Un piston français sur un cor allemand

par Frédéric Jourdin

Ajouté à un cor en si bémol descendant, un piston ascendant en ut apporte plus de justesse et de facilité dans l'aiguë tout en proposant des doigtés similaires à ceux du cor double en SiB/Fa lorsque ce piston est contrôlé au niveau du pouce. Et grâce à une coulisse de son bouché et une extension optionnelle en fa toutes les notes du registre peuvent être jouées, le tout pour un poids total de l'instrument très léger.

Ainsi Dennis Brain avait fait ajouter à son cor simple en si bémol descendant de la marque française Raoux deux pistons rotatifs supplémentaires. Le premier était pour la coulisse de son bouché. Le second était ce piston ascendant d'un ton qui fonctionne à l'inverse d'un piston descendant : la palette au repos l'air circule dans la coulisse ascendante ; mais lorsque la palette est enfoncée l'air emprunte un chemin plus court ce qui élève la tonalité du cor un ton au dessus du si bémol. M Brain explique qu'en élevant ainsi son cor en ut alto les notes aiguës la, si, do et ré sont excellentes et le cor admet également le sol pédale ainsi qu'un bon sol grave (Grieve, 1971). Cet instrument bénéficie à la fois des qualités des systèmes descendant et ascendant.

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To trip or not to triple...?

 Frøydis Ree Wekre

wekre.jpgI read Mr. Cerminaro's article rejoicing the triple horn in the latest Horn Call with great interest. Especially this statement was touching: "Phrasing with triple horns transforms fluid vocal ideas into confident musical realities." Congratulations to all who find an instrument with which they are really happy, it be a certain make, or, as in this case, a model with many features. However, I would like to comment on the prediction in this article about the future of instruments for horn players.

From my point of view, the development of the horn seems to be going in several directions, the key words being diversity and versatility. The natural horn (from various periods) is now clearly back in business in Europe. I, for one, have been increasingly busy through last decades, performing orchestral or chamber music by Bach, Händel, Telemann, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn and other great composers, on instruments similar to what they had at the time. This includes Brahms Op. 40, with a piano from 1853 and an old violin with gut strings. Indeed, Brahms did have some very special sounds in mind!

Today the natural horn can be studied as the main instrument, for example in the distinguished old Leipzig Music Conservatory in Germany. There are many groups around performing and recording on period instruments or copies of such. More and more frequently conductors ask for natural horns in classical works. Smart students study natural horn on the side, in order to be better prepared for possible opportunities and challenges in their professional future. The single horns (in F and Bb) are also coming back in use, based on the desire of some groups and conductors to create a sound picture closer to what was there at the time of the composers.

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Never Say Never - Again

Frøydis Ree Wekre on myths and negative rules

wekre.jpgWhen I started to play the horn as a teenager I got the firm impression that only people with thin lips would have the potential to become really good horn players. This myth stayed in the back of my mind for many years and certainly delayed my progress in several areas. My own, somewhat thick lips became the excuse and explanation for various problems. My own creative problem-solving and flow of new ideas on how to improve technically slowed down considerably because of believing in this myth.

Later I have run across other myths that for some people had been damaging to their progress and self confidence, but often later proven to be wrong.
Many of these myths turn into negative advice and rules on how not to do it. This kind of advice is handed out freely as pompous statements in the form of “never do this/never do that”, understood: “To do this or that is against every law, written or unwritten, and if you do this or that anyway, your playing/your chances/your whatever will be severely damaged.” 

Below follows a collection of such “nevers”; statements that can have a negative effect on the minds of sensitive people. Some of the rules are self-experienced, and others have been told me by students and colleagues. Each one will be presented separately with my comments.

“Never puff your cheeks.” My first horn teacher told me this, and I followed his advice obediently. However, one evening, as I was watching the orchestra where he played, I noticed something strange in the horn section; surprisingly for me, my own teacher puffed his cheeks occasionally! When asked about this during my next lesson, he thought about it for a while, then smiled and held firm to his earlier advice, but of course, the grain of doubt had been put into my mind. Later I have found that puffing the cheeks occasionally when playing in certain ranges or dynamics might help to give stiff corner muscles a quick, temporary relaxation. It might also help producing a different tone colour, if one is unable to create that on the normal, non-puffed setting. So, my answer to this rule would be: Yes, for the most part, although no rule without exceptions!

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Negotiations - Making Our Business "Our Business"

by John Cox 

Negotiation: “a conferring, discussing, or bargaining to reach agreement.” (Webster ’s New World Dictionary, second college edition, 1970)

If there is one topic that is underplayed, if even mentioned, in our schooling as musicians, it is contracts and their negotiation. This is the business of making sure that our hard work, education, and performance abilities are rewarded to the extent that we can earn a living wage. If you grew up in a non-union household, like many of us, then you never experienced anything regarding “contract negotiations” until early in your teaching/performing career when it became time to “re-negotiate” the contract.

Let us examine the negotiating process from the position of the neophyte. Experienced teachers and players will recognize and empathize when recalling their first time at the “big dance” of negotiations. If you recall it, you look forward to negotiations with the same enthusiasm as buying a new car – except that contract negotiations usually extend for months rather than a few frustrating hours.

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