Modern Horn Playing in Beethoven: An Exploration of Period Appropriate Techniques for the Orchestral Music of Beethoven for the Modern Horn Player
Anderson, Matthew John
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I. Abstract The historically informed movement has made it increasingly apparent that orchestras can no longer interpret Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart, and Bach in exactly the same manner. It is now incumbent upon each member of the orchestra, as well as the conductor, to be aware of historic performance traditions in order to color the music with appropriate gestures. It is therefore important for horn players to explore the hand horn traditions of the baroque, classical, and early romantic periods in an effort to perform the correct inflections in a way that the composer might have expected the music to sound. As an example, in the second movement of the Beethoven’s third symphony, beginning in the second half of the eighteenth measure from the end of the movement and going into the next measure, the second horn goes from a concert middle C down a half step to a B natural. Original practice would cause the B natural to be 3⁄4 covered which would have caused tension in the sound. Modern horns can just depress second valve to play the note giving a completely different color. The intention of this document is to inform current and future generations of hornists techniques to not only re-create sounds of the period on modern instruments, but also to create new pathways to learning repertoire through deconstructing the orchestral passages, creating new ways towards a complete understanding of the literature. It would be impractical for a horn player to try to play a natural horn in a modern orchestra due to the fact that the materials used in a natural horn tend to be much lighter than modern instruments, and therefore do not project as well. An examination of audition lists of the major orchestras in the United States reveals that excerpts of Beethoven’s works are frequently listed for major orchestral auditions and are also some of the first orchestral excerpts a young player learns. A study of his works is the best place to begin.
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