The Concerto for Horn and Orchestra is a work celebrating the horn repertoire. Each movement is a tip of the cap to a composer who helped define its role and many horn excerpts are hidden inside the piece. Instrumentation changes with each movement depending on the inspiration: from delicate woodwinds and strings to an all-wind scherzo the orchestra members get to explore various roles throughout the concerto.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Horn Concerto in E-flat, K. 447 is one of my favorite pieces of music and the horn solo I am most familiar with. The Mozart concertos are one of the staples of horn repertoire. It is only fitting to begin my concerto with homage to this work.
John Phillip Sousa has been notorious for his use of the horn. Unfortunately horn players get stuck with off-beat after off-beat no matter the march. Fortunately, this movement utilizes exactly what they have been trained for! This Sousa-inspired movement is a fun march that provides a few treats for the soloist along the way.
III. Sehr einfach und schlicht, wie eine Volksweise
Gustav Mahler’s dynamic use of the horn has conductors using the term “Mahlerian” to get an edgier, fuller sound. However, this movement reflects on Mahler’s more tender moments while the phrases get longer and longer. A certain folk band weaves in and out of the texture in a style he may have imitated if he were still alive.
IV. With intensity
Gustav Holst is an iconic writer for any brass instrument. This movement is homage to The Planets as we join the front lines of an ongoing battle for the stars. Quotes of the horn solo from Venus are set against the raucous fanfares, charges, and skirmishes. It is a dazzling and virtuosic finale with the horn leading the charge.
- Matthew Nunes
December 6th, 2014 – January 26th, 2017
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