Stopped Horn Excerpts, Part 2

In part 2 of this series on stopped horn excerpts, we’ll look at a few more orchestral works which feature prominent stopped horn parts, as well as an excerpt from the band literature.  In part 1 we focused on solo excerpts from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol and Rachmaninov’s The Rock , but in this post we’ll take a closer look at some section excerpts for stopped horn. The first, and probably most famous, tutti excerpt is found in the last movement of Tchaikvosky’s Symphony No. 6, Op. 74.  Beginning at rehearsal K, the 2nd and 4th horns have a stopped c#’, which drops an octave after four measures.  The low c# must be very loud, but also in tune (example taken from the IMSLP parts).

The excerpt can be doubled so that the whole section is playing it, and I also highly recommend using a brass stop mute.  It is possible to play the note well using hand stopping, but it can be played much louder (and brassier) with a good stopping mute like this one by Alexander or this one by Ion Balu.  I own an Alexander mute and can say that it is a very fine mute that will get the job done, and I have also heard very good things about the Balu mute.  But don’t take my word for it – see the video below for a demonstration of the Balu stopping mute featuring Ion Balu.

Mahler’s symphonies have some amazing horn parts, including lots of stopped horn.  Take for instance this excerpt from the second movement of his Symphony No. 1.   The stopped notes are loud, rapidly articulated, and must also be played bells up (“Schalltr. auf”).  All seven horn parts have variations on this figure,  but the lower parts which go down to the low a-flat can be particularly difficult to project.  The example below is from the 4th horn part.

As with the Tchaikovsky excerpt, it is worth considering a brass stop mute on this one – they can really make a big difference in volume and projection. I would practice the excerpt both ways, however, just in case you are ever required to play it using hand stopping.

The final excerpt for today is not found in orchestral music, but instead comes from the wind band repertoire – Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy. I could not get my hands on an actual part for today’s post, but I have played the work several times.  The first movement, “Lisbon,” opens with stopped horn and muted trumpet, making for a very interesting timbre when played well.  Having played this piece as both a high school and college student, I really wish I’d had some better stopped horn fingerings then.  The recording below is of the University of North Texas Wind Symphony.

To close I’ll leave you with a list I’m currently compiling: ” Orchestral and Band Works with Prominent Passages for Stopped and Muted Horn.”  If you have suggestions for the list please comment below – I’m particularly interested in band works since I’m not as familiar with that repertoire.  Looking at the list you can see that many major composers wrote lots of stopped and muted horn parts – it should definitely not be an “optional” part of your technique.


Beethoven, Ludwig van

  • Symphony No. 6

Berlioz, Hector

  • Symphonie Fantastique

Bruckner, Anton

  • Symphony No. 4

Debussy, Claude

  • La Mer
  • Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Dvořák, Antonín

  • Symphony No. 9

Mahler, Gustav

  • Symphony Nos. 1-9
  • Das Lied von der Erde

Mussorgsky, Modest (Ravel)

  • Pictures at an Exhibition

Prokofiev, Sergei

  • Romeo and Juliet (Suite No. 3)

Ravel, Maurice

  • Daphnis and Chloé
  • Rapsodie Espagnole

Rimsky-Korsavok, Nikolai

  • Le Coq d’Or (suite)
  • Scheherazade

Schoenberg, Arnold

  • Chamber Symphony No. 1

Shostakovich, Dmitri

  • Symphony No. 5

Strauss, Richard

  • Ein Alpensinfonie
  • Don Juan
  • Don Quixote
  • Ein Heldenleben
  • Symphonia Domestica
  • Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche

Stravinsky, Igor

  • L’Oiseau de Feu, Suite (1919)
  • Le Sacre du Printemps (1913)


Brahms, Johannes

  • Academic Festival Overture

de Falla, Manuel

  • El Sombrero de Tres Picos

Grainger, Percy

  • Lincolnshire Posy

Jenkins, Joseph Wilcox

  • American Overture for Band

Mahler, Gustav

  • Symphony Nos. 1-9
  • Das Lied von der Erde

Ravel, Maurice

  • Daphnis and Chloé
  • Rapsodie Espagnole

Rimsky-Korsavok, Nikolai

  • Capriccio Espagnol
  • Le Coq d’Or (suite)

Schoenberg, Arnold

  • Chamber Symphony No. 1

Stravinsky, Igor

  • Le Sacre du Printemps (1913)

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr

  • Symphony No. 5
  • Symphony No. 6

Williams, Clifton

  • Fanfare and Allegro

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Though they’re not played as frequently as other works on your list, you could also add Shostakovich’s Symphony #10 and #11 to your list of muted orchestral works.


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