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|Volume 2 Issue 9, September 2016|
The second reason I am pleased to write here is because of the theme of this newsletter: the natural horn. The slate of articles and the guests compiled here includes perspectives from some of the best in the world.
Whether you like the natural horn or not, I have no doubt you will enjoy the ideas and experiences shared in this issue of Horn and More!
Interview of the Month: Anneke Scott
Certainly one of the foremost natural horn players of our time is English virtuoso Anneke Scott. She records and tours extensively as a soloist and as principal horn with the finest period ensembles around the world, including the English Baroque Soloists, Europa Galante, The Kings Consort, and Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, among others. She is also a dedicated scholar and proponent of historically informed performance. Ms. Scott currently teaches at the The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the University of Birmingham. Read this interview, and I promise you’ll come away educated, with fresh ideas on how to approach our beloved repertoire, whether valved or valveless. Thank you, Anneke! - KMT
Kristina Mascher-Turner: What was it that sparked your fascination with the natural horn in the first place?
Anneke Scott: I was first introduced to the instrument a few months before I did my music college undergrad auditions, so I was about 17 at the time. My teacher was honing his skills as an instrument repairer and had picked up some battered old piston horns and turned them into natural horns. He lent me one as he thought it might interest me - I was immediately hooked. What initially appealed was the challenge. I had to work it out more or less on my own, and I remember the frustration of becoming a beginner once more on pieces I thought I knew. When I went to music college (Royal Academy of Music, London) I started to meet other brass students who were getting interested in period instruments; plus we had John Wallace as head of department who did much to encourage us. The period instrument scene is very active in London, so all this made me want to focus on this aspect of playing in my career.
KMT: You studied the hand horn in three countries: the UK, France, and the Netherlands. Can you tell us something about the different traditions and approaches to the instrument you encountered in each one?
AS: I think there was definitely a different approach to teaching in the three institutions, and, though I'm not sure whether these approaches reflect a wider national tradition, I suspect my memories are also strongly influenced by the stages I was at in different places. The RAM had a rather gung-ho approach to period instruments. We were all encouraged to learn "auxiliary" instruments (period instruments such as natural trumpet, natural horn, sackbut, cornetto, serpent, ophicleide, or the additional modern instruments such as piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn, Wagner tuba, euphonium etc.) For a lot of people a basic idea of these instruments was sufficient, which in a way made it easy to feel that one was an expert while in essence still a beginner. One thing that I feel was incredibly important from my time studying at the RAM was that I was never told anything was difficult. I do remember, on having said yes to a student Bach cantata gig, my natural horn teacher (Andrew Clark) carefully saying I might like to take a closer look before saying yes in future (the cantata in question was screamingly high.) But it's something I certainly appreciate from Andrew’s teaching - he never said anything was difficult, and therefore I never developed a complex about what I was doing. Everything was approachable.
Natural Horn Playing Now and Forty Years Ago
by Ab Koster
When I started playing the natural horn in 1970, musicians who played original instruments were extremely rare. In Vienna in the late 1950’s, Nikolaus Harnoncourt founded his group called “Concentus Musicus Wien.” They started with only strings, and he conducted the group from his cello chair. Harnoncourt had close contact with some Dutch musicians – Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen, and Anner Bijlsma. Frans Brüggen and Anner Bijlsma were teaching at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague, where I studied.
Together with Frans Vester, the flute player of the famous Danzi Woodwind Quintet, they inspired me to start playing on the natural horn. At the same time, I won a Dutch prize (“Prix d’Excellence”) that gave me the opportunity to make several recordings for Dutch radio. I was so inspired by the idea of playing natural horn that I proposed, after recording the Schumann Adagio and Allegro and the Dukas Villanelle, to play the Beethoven Sonata on natural horn next time. The only problem was that I had no instrument.
I started to study with Hermann Baumann in 1971 for the “Konzertexamen” in Essen, and he advised me to order a copy made by Meinl and Lauber in Geretsried near Munich. At the same time, I started to practice natural horn on my single Bb Alexander, which had an F crook at the thumb valve for the low notes. (Almost everybody played a single Bb horn back then in Holland, just as Dennis Brain, Peter Damm, and Alan Civil did in those days.)
Just in time before the recording, I received my Meinl and Lauber copy. It was a copy of a Huschauer, a Baroque instrument with a rather large bell. My colleagues in the Residentie Orchestra (my first full-time position) started laughing when they saw me with that natural horn. Everyone thought it was just a nice attempt that would end soon.
Are you bilingual? Multilingual?
Experiences and Strategies in Teaching
by Frøydis Ree Wekre
I believe in music as a wonderful human art form with great impact for a better life. I do also believe strongly in the importance of the best possible teaching for all pupils and students. What, then, characterises good teaching, as the students experience it, and as results arise? How can each and every one of us improve our teaching skills? Maybe we could open up between our studios to a larger degree, and exchange our ideas and philosophies and tricks of the trade - not only between horn players, but also including teachers of other instruments, when relevant? While waiting for this to happen, I am happy to share some of my own thoughts on teaching here. These points were originally notes for a lecture.
Teaching, in my experience, is about sharing information, encouraging, inspiring, helping, and trusting the potential.
To me, teaching feels like a pleasant obligation, a sort of “payback” to my own teachers. In earlier years I mostly trusted my instincts, but nowadays I am more conscious about what to do - or not to do - in the various teaching situations. Experience can help, if we reflect upon it.
Meet Your Makers – Richard Seraphinoff, Historical Horn Maker
I thrive on variety. I teach modern horn, early horn, and brass literature and history at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, play horn, make horns, do research into horn design, construction and history, and write about the horn. “But wait a minute!” the astute reader will say, “That’s not variety. That’s all about horn!” Well - OK, it is all about the horn, but as we all know, there’s a lot of variety under the subject of horn. Teaching is about working one on one and in classes with our talented IU horn players, helping them to develop their skills and move toward their goals. Playing is sharing music with the people who you are playing for, and the people you are playing with. Writing and researching are the academic side of things, and not done in real time with real people, but rather alone and at a leisurely pace, and often involve interesting travel. Horn making is just me and the metal, but I’m still working with people, making something that will be a tool that will make their work easier and more enjoyable. Over the past nearly forty years, each one of these things has been an antidote to all of the others, and whether I am sitting on a stage, teaching horn at IU, sitting at my computer, or in my workshop, I always have the pleasant feeling of “I like this part best!”
But when Jeff Nelsen and Kristina Mascher-Turner asked me to write this, they were specifically interested in the instrument maker side of me, sometimes known as my second full-time job. I started making reproductions of historical horns because I needed appropriate horns when I began seriously playing with period instrument groups in the 1970s. At that point the choices were either expensive antique horns or a few rather modern valveless horns that were being made. But fortunately I came from a family that made things. My father made airplanes as a hobby, - real airplanes in which we flew, and I grew up thinking that if you needed something, you just had to learn out how it was made, get the right materials and tools, and then go ahead and make it.
IHS Free Classified Ads
A user recently posted the 3000th ad in the IHS Online Free Classifieds, which are celebrating their fifth birthday this month. If you are interested in buying, selling, or just window shopping horns, accessories and horn music, check them out!
Timbre and Taste
by Jeffrey Snedeker
As many of you also know, the natural horn has been an important part of my musical life and career, beginning with sharing First Place in the Natural Horn Division (with Javier Bonet) of the American Horn Competition (now the International Horn Competition of America) almost 25 years ago. The pursuit of this instrument has had an interesting effect on the following:
This last item, my concept of the aesthetic of the pieces that include the instrument, is the one that has been on my mind recently, especially after hearing a range of live and recorded performances that provoke a question: when composers wrote notes that require some sort of hand-stopping, what should those notes sound like?
The approach to stopped timbres has two obvious extremes, both of which we hear in public and on recordings. One is to bring the volume of the stopped notes up to that of the open notes in a passage, most frequently creating a raspy timbre like a “modern” stopped sound. The second is to do the opposite, to modify the volume of open notes that the timbre is more even and the changes are subtler. The 18th- and 19th-century methods that comment on timbre generally encourage the second way, yet many modern performers, for whatever reasons, seem to choose the first way.
We are looking forward to seeing you at the 49th International Horn Symposium in Natal, Brazil, June 26-30, 2017.
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