Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Dr. Amanda Eubanks Winkler
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
The natural horn developed from an instrument of the hunt into an orchestral instrument in the 18th century. The switch from outdoors to concert hall was helped along by the development of hand horn technique, which allowed for all chromatic notes to be played on the instrument. This led to an extremely fruitful time of virtuoso hand horn soloists through outEurope. The instrument evoked a very particular aesthetic: light, nimble, virtuosic, “natural”, voice-like, etc. Then when the invention of the valves was applied to the natural horn it was met with a fair amount of resistance. The natural horn persisted in much composition and playing well after the invention of the valve horn. This happened due to the influence of tradition, performers, and a particular naturalist aesthetic that persisted from the classical period into the romantic.
This paper proves this thesis by using musical examples from all over Europethat employed or could be played on natural horn even though they were composed after the advent of the valve horn. I also use first hand quotes from music critics of the 19th century who spoke of the varying aesthetics of the natural horn and valve horn, in addition to letters and other writings. Between sources from the 19th century and scholarly analyses from the present there is a strong basis to believe in the importance of performers and particular aesthetics in the matter of these two instruments.
This topic is still important today for a variety of reasons, for one, to be able to have well informed historical period performances on natural instruments. It is also important in understanding writing for the horn to this day, and what makes certain things idiomatic for even the valve horn. It’s also key for more informed decisions on phrasing and dynamics based on what the composer would have wanted on a natural instrument, which can greatly help our musicality even on valve horns today. On a larger scale, this paper shows the interaction between performer and composer, how we affect each other, and how societal and traditional aesthetic ideals can inform our work as musicians.
Kinev, Paula, "Natural Horn Performance in the 19th Century" (2009). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 438.
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