A while ago several videos of the legendary horn soloist Hermann Baumann in master classes and solo performances appeared on YouTube. These videos were part of a series of twelve French films called “Private Music Lessons,” broadcast between 1987 and 1991 on French television. The series has now been released on DVD on the Harmonia Mundi label, and I recently received my copy of the Hermann Baumann film, directed by Heinz Peter Schwerfel. According to the liner notes:
These lessons present several of the major works for horn. Hermann Baumann’s approach to teaching, filmed with an eye for precision by the German director Heinz Peter Schwerfel, blends elements of style, technique and personal taste in an alchemy as freely inventive as it is effective. (Olivier Bernager, translated by Charles Johnston)
Full of inspiring performing and teaching, this film is a must-have for any serious hornist’s DVD collection. It is available on Amazon at a very reasonable price, and my copy arrived inside of a week. The English subtitles are great, and if I remember correctly the YouTube videos did not have English subtitles. As of now, the YouTube videos have been removed because of copyright violation, so getting the DVD is probably the only way to watch the film. On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to get to play briefly for Hermann Baumann in a master class at the Kendall Betts Horn Camp. I remember being a bit nervous (!) but also feeling very inspired and privileged to be playing for him.
The film is not only full of great playing by Baumann and his students, but also offers a glimpse into his teaching philosophy and approach to music. Here are some of my favorite Baumann quotes from the film. The first one is on imagination and performing music, and the next two are about teaching.
My greatest quality is my imagination. That’s why my music-making is always so new. I don’t try to play as well as yesterday or the day before, but each day is new and each interpretation is new.
Here in the classroom we’re normally in tête-à-tête. There are just the two of us: the student there, and me here. As a teacher, one is the most important person, the most important interlocutor for a student at this moment in life.
I’m not a “clinician,” I’m not a doctor, but I’m a human being who sympathizes with each individual student. The students who come to me are all different, as is of course to be expected, as is normal with human beings. Each one is different, and each one brings his own qualities and also his own weaknesses.
If you can’t tell already, I highly recommend this DVD! Another item that has recently become available is a seven-disc set of previously released material called the “Hermann Baumann Collection.” Since I already own several of the recordings featured in this collection, I have been hesitant to order it – however it is being offered at such an amazing price that I might just go ahead and get it. Even if you don’t order the DVD or CD collection right away, consider putting them on your birthday or holiday wish list, or buying then as gifts. Any horn player would be delighted to receive these!