John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

  • Music:

Ten random things: September 17

Ten professional French horn players:

  1. Barry Tuckwell
  2. Peter Damm
  3. Dave Lee
  4. Martin Hobbs
  5. Radovan Vlatković
  6. Philip Farkas
  7. Hermann Baumann
  8. Dennis Brain
  9. Vincent DeRosa
  10. Mike Thompson

I used to play the French horn. I was never very good, because I didn't like to practice. On my own, that is. I loved rehearsal, but when it came to picking up the horn at home and running my part, I could never get into it. Nowadays, whatever musical urges I have are satisfied by singing in the church choir, but there's this vague desire deep within me to get myself a new horn and take it up again.

The other day, I was browsing the biography aisle at the bookstore and came across A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument by Jasper Rees. Like me, Rees played the horn in his youth, but unlike me he decided to act in that vague desire. And with a vengeance: he set himself a goal of performing Mozart's Horn Concerto no. 3 at the annual gathering of the British Horn Society, and dedicated a year to serious study and practice. Does he succeed? Beats me, I'm only about a third of the way through it. It's a fun read, particularly the parts where he talks about meeting various pro horn players during the year, because it turns out that horn players are pretty entertaining people. As Vlatković says, "we all start joking. There must be something about the horn. You have to develop a sense of humor. Otherwise you will go and kill yourself."

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