The Bagatelle for Low Horn and Piano by Hermann Neuling (1897 – 1967) has long been on my bucket list of solo works, and luckily I’ve had the opportunity to perform it a couple of times in the last few months. Most recently, I performed it for a “Horn Fest” concert organized by my colleague and friend Thomas Hundemer, Principal Horn of the Shreveport Symphony. If you’d like to listen to that performance, the YouTube video can be found at the end of this post. *The video quality is grainy because I stationed the camera at the back of a large church sanctuary and zoomed in.
If you aren’t familiar with Hermann Neuling or his works, check out this great thumbnail sketch by Dr. Jason Michael Johnston of the University of Idaho. It’s also worth noting that three of Neuling’s etude books, including the famous 30 Special Studies for Low Horn, are now available as PDF downloads through qPress. If you’ve listened to or played the Bagatelle, you know that it presents some challenges in both technique and flexibility. It is fun to play, and makes a great addition to a recital program. One interesting point is the horn’s pitch on the dotted eighth-note in the fourth beat of measure 23 (10 measures after rehearsal 1). See below for an image from the score, © 1956, Pro musica Verlag Leipzig.
If you look closely, there is a pitch discrepancy between the horn’s written E natural (concert A) and the piano’s A-flat, both on the fourth beat of measure 23. The E natural in the horn sounds ok by itself, but will definitely clash with the piano’s A-flat! Harmonically, the horn’s note needs to be an E-flat, and is performed as such in the recordings I’ve heard.
If you’ve not taken a look at the Bagatelle, consider programming it in the future as it is a challenging and rewarding work!