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3 Music for Horn and Ensemble: Orchestra, String Orchestra, Band, Wind Ensemble, or Other Instrumental Group

LINDA DEMPF Indiana University Press ePub

In instrumental music, the term concerto has come to mean a work with two or more contrasting performing forces. As the horn became recognized as a solo instrument during the baroque period, the earliest solo concertos were written for horn and strings with the horn playing in the clarino style, with florid and virtuosic writing using the upper partials of the horn. During the classical period, performers such as Giovanni Punto and Ignaz Leutgeb exploited the full range of technical possibilities of hand horn technique, inspiring composers such as Mozart and Rosetti to write the excellent works that solidified the horn’s place as a solo instrument. With the development of the valve horn, composers became interested in exploring and furthering the musical and technical possibilities of the horn concerto even further. This has come to include solo works for horn and the contrasting forces of orchestra, string orchestra, band, wind ensemble, and brass band, and in contemporary music, the wide variety of instrument combinations that make up the modern ensemble.

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1 Music for Unaccompanied Horn

LINDA DEMPF Indiana University Press ePub

The literature for unaccompanied horn has come about for many different reasons. Horn teachers have written unaccompanied works as exam pieces for students. Performers intrigued by the possibilities of their own instrument have been inspired to write for horn alone, often to fulfill the need for more freely expressive pieces for their own performing. Contemporary composers interested in exploring the horn’s different timbres and technical possibilities have written many works for horn alone and in recent years have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of the instrument’s technical and expressive capabilities.

The beauty of the unaccompanied work—the range of expression available, the total freedom possible—is also what makes these works so challenging. The performer has complete responsibility for all aspects of the piece. And since there is no one else to carry the music forward or share in the expression, these works are not only some of the most taxing and technically difficult in the horn literature but they also require much individual musical thought in their preparation and presentation. Another challenge for both composer and performer is avoiding the monotony inherent in a work for one instrument. The same timbre heard for more than just a few minutes can wear on the listener, no matter how beautiful the line or how novel the gesture. However, when composed and performed effectively, the sparseness, immediacy, and expressiveness of an unaccompanied work can balance out a recital and add great variety to a program. Unaccompanied pieces also give the horn player the opportunity to perform in a more theatrical way than the average ensemble player may be used to, since the visual aspect in an unaccompanied performance can be just as important as the sound.

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2 Music for Horn and Keyboard: Piano, Organ, Harpsichord

LINDA DEMPF Indiana University Press ePub

The literature for horn and piano represents by far the largest number of works represented in this book. The genre dates back to just before the beginning of the nineteenth century and came about for many different reasons. Some pieces were written as serious chamber music, as in the case of countless sonatas and other works; many were written in the earlier style of the duo, with the horn and piano being equals, as in the Beethoven Sonata, op. 17. Others were conceived as salon music or show pieces, which are very much solos with accompaniment. Another large group of horn and piano music is more educational in nature, having often been written as exam pieces, such as the French repertoire for Paris Conservatory exams. Horn teachers have also written graded teaching pieces for their students of all levels. Into the twentieth century, as the valve horn came into its own as a technically capable solo instrument, composers became interested in exploring and furthering the musical and technical possibilities of the horn. Many of these pieces by composers from around the world have helped to establish the horn as a legitimate solo instrument.

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