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.

The Conservatory at St. Petersburg - the first in Russia - was founded in 1862 and so the earliest stages of the Russian School of horn playing which is known in Leningrad today, had begun. However, in the beginning the school lacked general organization and thus. all the brass instruments were combined and placed in the hands of one trumpet professor named Metzdorf. The situation remained as such until 1870, when through the efforts of Friedrich Homilius. and later. Franz Schollar, the school of horn playing came into its own.

Franz Schollar was born December 26, 1859 in Prague where he completed his conservatory studies in 1888. He arrived in Russia that same year and began working in the Court Orchestra and theater in St. Petersburg. Schollar was active as both horn and harp instructor at the school of the Court “Kapella" where he remained until his emigration in 1919. He died in 1933 in Plzen. Czechoslovakia.

Schollar is mostly noted for writing the first horn method, which is known to have much musical and technical value. This method has been reprinted ten times and is partly still in use particularly for beginning students. One of Schollar's principles was that middle G (concert C) was the horn’s central tone. not being too high or too low. and this has become a standard belief in the school today.

A number of Schollar's students were good players and readily accepted at the conservatory. Recognition for the actual founding of the horn school was given to Friedrich I-Iomilius, for it was through his efforts that the horn class at the conservatory was finally officially organized.

Homilius was born October 15, 1818 in Germany. He received his musical training at the conservatory in Dresden where he studied horn with Professor Moschke. Homilius was a member of the Dresden horn quartet until he joined the St. Petersburg Theater in 1838. He remained with the theater until 1877.

Homilius became professor of the horn class at St. Petersburg in 1870. He drew many students from the surrounding areas of Latvija and Estland which helped in flavoring the St. Petersburg style. He formed a horn quartet with his students. This quartet was widely acclaimed, and gave the horn more public attention and recognition than it had ever known.

In his last years at the Conservatory. Homilius was assisted by his foremost student, Jan Tamm. who became professor of the class in 1899. Friedrich Homilius died in 1902 in St. Petersburg.

Jan Denisovitsch Tamm was born in the small village of Tarvastu in Estland on January 11, 1875. Like his father he went to St. Petersburg to study violin, however shortly after Jan changed to horn. His musical studies were completed in 1897 and in addition to much solo and chamber music work. he began playing horn in the Court Orchestra.

At this time. the National Russian Music School was in a great developmental phase. Tchaikowsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov; cellist Davidov; the great violin school of Leopold Auer. to which Heifetz and Zimbalist belonged; and the piano schools of Esipora and Nikolajev were all part of this great era. St. Petersburg became recognized as an important influence on all aspects of the art world - music, art, ballet, and architecture.

Being inspired by the cultural development of the time, the horn class at the conservatory also was striving toward new goals and expanding in ideas and principles. One of Tamm's foremost beliefs was that the horn should be regarded as a melodic instrument and played in a natural singing manner. In his teaching, he stressed the importance of exact interpretation of what was written. He also provided the first clearly defined embouchure technique—this technique involved the use of the lower lip as a base for the mouthpiece, developing flexibility through the use of an active upper lip, and rejecting the use of pressure. This made a great change in the characteristic horn sound of previous years.

As a teacher, Tamm was a strong and authoritative personality and described as a man of great culture. He drew many students to the Conservatory, who, in their success, gave St. Petersburg a reputation for fine horn playing. After 1920, the horn class continued under the leadership of Tamm's most prominent student. Mikhael Nicholajewitsch Boujanovsky. Jan Tamm died on February 17, 1933.

Mikhael Nicholajewitsch Boujanovsky was born in St. Petersburg on October 4, 1891. Like Tamm he was the son of a musician. and also like Tamm he began his studies at the Conservatory on violin. When his father retired from playing flute in the Court Orchestra, however, financial difficulties began. It was at this time that Boujanovsky began studying horn since wind players received lessons free of charge. He quickly became Tamm's most outstanding student and finished his studies in 1911. graduating with highest honors. In 1913 he joined the Theater in St. Petersburg where he played first horn for forty-one years.

St. Petersburg at this time was still in its height of cultural development. Great composers, conductors, and performers were very active, and the early years of Boujanovsky’s career were musically rich.

Mikhael Boujanovsky’s horn playing displayed a new kind of interpretative styie. and he soon became a forerunner in the performing arena. His belief was that the horn should be used as a means for expresing an infinite range of musical ideas - he explored all extreme possibilities, both technically and emotionally. In comparing the horn to the human voice, he felt that it must be able to capture every colour, idea, and nuance asked by the composer. His principles and beliefs provided the groundwork for the rebuilding of the Leningrad horn school after the Russian Revolution. His musical talents, in addition to his vibrant character, succeeded in bringing the horn into a new light of artistic consideration. Because of his work, the horn then received a new more equal place at the Conservatory—curriculum expanded and limitations lifted. Mikhael Nicholajewitsch Boujanovsky worked as a professor at the Conservatory until his death on March 4, 1966.

Today the two professors of horn at the Conservatory are both students of Mikhael Boujanovsky. Pavel Constantinovitsch Orekhov was born on February 2, 1916 in Petrograd (later called Leningrad). He began working at the Conservatory as Boujanovsky’s assistant in 1945, and later became full professor in 1968. His other professional duties included playing second horn in the Kirov Theater.

Vitali Mikhaelovitsch Boujanovsky was born in Leningrad on August 28, 1928. He was the son of musical parents; his mother an opera singer and his father the famous horn professor. Although Vitali began his studies on piano and cello, he changed to horn and was a student of his father for ten years, ending his formal studies at the Conservatory in 1955. He held the position of first horn in the Kirov Theater from 1946 to 66. and immediately following became principal horn in the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Eugene Mravinsky.

Participating in international music competitions, Vitali Boujanovsky was awarded first prizes in Prague in 1953 and again in Vienna in 1959. He was also the recipient of two honorary titles in Russia. "Honored Artist" in 1968, and “Artist of The People" in 1978. He began teaching at the Conservatory in 1959, then in 1973 became appointed professor.

In the last years, Boujanovsky has also been active as a composer. Pieces such as Espana and the first Sonata, both for solo horn, are already familiar to many horn players and demand new technical and artistic efforts of the performer.

In his teaching, Vitali Boujanovsky has further developed his father's ideas, the main principle being that technique is not a goal in itself. but only a means to interpret the composer’: ideas. Boujanovsky attracts students from the whole Soviet Union as well as from foreign countries. Many of his students have been prize winners in international competitions and many also hold positions in major orchestras. As a teacher, Boujanovsky goes beyond the discussion of technique. and emphasizes the musical content and the performer's creative responsibility.

The impression that Vitali Boujanovsky has left on this generation of horn players is an important one. Through his interpretative style one realizes the horn having as many artistic possibilities as any of the traditional solo instruments. This is especially clear in his famous recording of Schumann's Adagio and Allegro, and Rossini’s Prelude. Theme and Variations. In orchestra literature, Boujanovsky has a great ability to play even the most simple solo lines with ease and beauty.

One has much to learn from each of the various schools of music in the world today. The qualities of the Leningrad School are especially relevant to all brass players. The increasing influence of its ideas can help us develope as better musicians and artists.

The responsible author of this article is Frdydis Ree Wekre. It is based on historical information from Vitali Boujanovsky. Co-operation with the English-speaking horn players Candace Devine and Ann Teehan made it readable.

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