AUSTRO-GERMAN CLASSICAL ERA HORN WORKS: A STUDY IN STYLE AND PERFORMANCE PRACTICE
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The horn has a long history in Western music that began in the Baroque Era and has progressed through several incarnations into the instrument we know today. The Classical Era in particular produced an enormous body of solo literature for the horn that is still in high demand today. Specifically, Mozart’s concertos are performed on every professional audition and have been recorded on numerous CDs. Every hornist attempts to perform these works in a musically satisfying way, but modern performers often neglect studying this music in context. This dissertation seeks to bring musicians a thorough approach to Classical works for horn by Austro- German composers. The lack of recordings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries makes it
difficult to emulate performances of the Classical Era, and only through reading
books written slightly before, during, and after this time period can modern musicians achieve an approximation of authentic historical performance. This, combined with a
thorough study of the natural horn and its capabilities, can lead to musically satisfying and classically enlightened performances of these works on modern instruments. The natural horn was seen as an instrument full of color and versatility during its time. Today, it is viewed as a limited instrument with an uneven timbre when compared to the wide range, even tone color, and chromatic ability of the valve horn. These two views must be reconciled to incorporate the strengths of both instruments when playing Classical works on today’s modern instruments. Classical composers knew the natural horn’s strengths and wrote melodies specifically designed to utilize its inherent changes in tone color and dynamics to influence musical phrasing and contrast. The project is composed of three performances: two traditional recitals presenting works from Austro-German composers that chronologically span the Classical era, and one recital with a lecture presenting a portion of the research and ideas that have influenced the author’s musical decisions. This dissertation combines an understanding of period notation, performance, and instruments of the Classical Era into educational and entertaining performances modern audiences can enjoy.