Horn Sonata No. 1 (Unaccompanied)

SKU: BFH1072018-HS1 Categories: , , Tags: ,


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This is a brand new piece composed for French Horn without accompaniment. It has three movements all connected by the opening material of the first movement.

1st. Movement:

The opening movement is marked andante. It opens with a repeated tonic followed by an arpeggiated 1/16th figure with a closing descending scale. These three ideas form the basic musical material for the whole sonata. Throughout the first movement these three ideas are transformed and manipulated, expanded and contracted while maintaining a clear musical structure (basically Ternary form). As with sonata form, the final reprise of the original ideas is transformed by their ‘journey’.

The style of the music is rather like a Bach partita for solo instrument.

The movement takes the player through most of the horn’s range, but does not require any extended techniques, so should be handleable by moderately skilled players.

2nd. Movement:

This slow movement requires excellent breath control. It uses the repeated note idea from the 1st movement to open, expanding the rhythm to create a rather melancholy pattern. Later, the scalic 1/16th are utilised to link to the Più mosso section where the arpeggio idea (this time descending) helps to create a feeling of wide open space and emptiness. The player is in an empty universe, drifting slowly away as the dynamics become ever quieter until the ending at ppp.

3rd. Movement:

This movement opens with a similar idea to the previous two, but at a fairly quick Allegro (quarter = 132) and using arpeggios in triplets to drive the music through.

The dotted half noes with crescs at the end of the phrase should really be pushed into brassiness at the end of the cresc.

I ask the player to do rip glisses, some of them difficult to achieve, and also gestopft and ‘half stopped’. Although these are ‘hand horn’ techniques that survive from before the invention of valves, they are still useful to create a different effect than from standard mutes. Where these techniques are asked for, a silvery, ethereal tone is required as a contrast to the brash ‘hunting horn’ style of the outer sections of the movement.

The middle part of this movement is ‘quasi una cadenza’. The stopping instructions are intended to have an effect on the tuning as well as the timbre of the notes. The first pair of each group of three should be slurred smoothly.

The final section reprises the beginning of the movement, but at breakneck speed. quarter = 144 is advisory only. The faster the better.

This movement again makes use of the extremes of the horn’s range and makes high demands on stamina and tonguing.

Additional information

Solo Instrument

Level of Difficulty



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