Barry Tuckwell’s Contributions to Horn Literature

Word of  Barry Tuckwell’s (1931-2020) passing spread quickly throughout the horn playing community, and was met with sadness as well as a number of heartfelt and touching reminiscences. His incredible career as an orchestral musician, soloist, and recording artist has been justifiably lauded by such diverse outlets as The New York Times  and The International Horn Society. Like Philip Farkas, Barry Tuckwell had an immeasurable impact on generations of horn players, and he will be missed greatly. I only heard him perform live once, in the late 90’s during one of his last solo tours. Like many, though, I became familiar with Tuckwell’s artistry through his numerous recordings, which span a huge range of horn literature.

His publications were also widely circulated, though some are now out of print. See the list below, as found on his Honorary Member page on the International Horn Society’s website.

  • Horn (Yehudi Menuhin Music Guides)
  • Fifty First Exercises for Horn
  • Playing the Horn; A Practical Guide
  • Great Performer’s Editions (Telemann, Beethoven, etc.)
  • Mozart Concertos for Horn

Tuckwell was also an avid proponent of new music, with an extensive catalog of works written for and because of him. The following list (with recording links where available) can be found in a chapter of Douglas Hill’s book Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity, and Horn Performance (Warner Brothers Publications, 2001). The chapter is aptly titled “New Music for and Because of Barry Tuckwell,” and is well worth reading in its entirety. Here is the introduction to the chapter:

In 1996, Johnny Pherigo, editor of The Horn Call: Journal of the International Horn Society, invited me to write an article that would review the compositions written specifically for the soon-to-retire, world famous horn soloist Barry Tuckwell. A number of these wonderful compositions were favorites of mine already, so to learn of the others was a welcome opportunity. What follows is a revised version of the original, which was based upon an extensive interview with Maestro Tuckwell and a visual and, in most cases, aural review of each composition. The body of works discussed stands as representative of the finest solo horn writing of the late-twentieth century. p. 170

List of Works Composed for and Because of Barry Tuckwell ( as found in the chapter “New Music for and Because of Barry Tuckwell,” in Douglas Hill’s Collected Thoughts on Teaching and Learning, Creativity, and Horn Performance (Warner Brothers Publications, 2001)

 

Brief Reviews: The French Horn Warmup Collection and Dueling Fundamentals for Two Horns

In my last post of 2019 I want to recommend two excellent new publications for horn players, John Ericson’s The French Horn Warmup Collection and Matthew Haislip’s Dueling Fundamentals for Two Horns. Either or both would make great gifts if you are still looking for a last minute holiday present for a horn-playing family member or friend.

The French Horn Warmup Collection includes material from several earlier publications by Dr. Ericson, as well as some new exercises. They can be freely combined in various ways to create numerous warmup and practice routines. All of the basics are covered thoroughly, including range and tone development, flexibility, scales and arpeggios, intonation, breathing, multiple tonguing, and more. I regularly use the exercises for breathing and multiple tonguing, and the “breath-set-play” pattern found at the end of the “Short Daily Routine.” Everything is notated very clearly, and the exercises are explained and presented in a logical manner. The Kindle edition is listed for $3.99, which is an amazingly low price for the amount and quality of the content in this collection. It can be easily read and performed from by using a tablet equipped with the Kindle app. If you prefer a hard copy, it is available through print-on-demand for $8.99, which is also very reasonable. For more on this publication, see Ericson’s post at Horn Matters, as well as this episode of his Horn Notes Podcast. Along with Professor Jeffrey Agrell at the University of Iowa, Dr. Ericson is among a few prominent horn professors making their publications available in both print and digital format. With the ever increasing popularity of tablet devices and digital media, I think this trend is going to continue.

In a similar vein is Dueling Fundamentals for Two Horns, new from Mountain Peak Music. The author is Dr. Matthew Haislip, Assistant Professor of Horn at Mississippi State University. Here is a brief description of the book from the MPM website:

Trill Thrill, Fits of Fifths, Beethoven for Two, and Overtone Madness are just some of the fun—but make no mistake, also challenging!—duets included in Dueling Fundamentals for Horns. This book consists of five chapters: Long Tones; Intervals; Flexibility; Scales and Arpeggios; and Range Extenders. In each duet, both lines are challenging—there is no “student” line and no “teacher” line. Therefore this book works well for lessons or as an excellent tool for two friends or classmates looking to challenge themselves and each other.

I’m a big fan of Mountain Peak Music’s publications, and have published two books of my own with them. The Dueling Fundamentals series capitalizes on a need for high quality pedagogical material for use by college-level players and their teachers. The duets found in Professor Haislip’s book make excellent “lesson-starters,” to be used in the first 10-15 minutes to establish solid fundamentals and set a high standard for the rest of the lesson. They of course could be used throughout a lesson to work on specific technical needs, or assigned to pairs of students for studio class presentations, etc.  I’ve played through many of these with my students, and found them to be well-constructed, useful, and fun. Range requirements usually begin comfortably and progress to extremes, and it is quite easy to adapt these for less experienced players by skipping around and/or truncating the duets. Some of the patterns draw upon classic materials such as Stamp, Clarke, and Gallay, while others incorporate various styles ranging from Beethoven to Philip Glass. In the absence of a duet partner, any of the duets can be performed by a single player to create an individual practice routine.

I am always in the market for innovative and functional teaching materials, and these new publications by John Ericson and Matthew Haislip certainly fit the bill.

As we close out 2019, I would like to thank my readers for taking the time to peruse this site. After almost 10 years of blogging, I still enjoy reading and writing about the horn, and it’s gratifying to know that there are others out there who feel the same way. Wishing you all good health and great chops in 2020!

Thoughts on Organizing Your C.V.

I spent some time this past semester revising my curriculum vitae, or C.V.,  for the purposes of applying for promotion here at ULM. Most of my revisions had less to do with design or content, and more to do with the organization of existing material. Having served on several search committees at the departmental level and higher, I can say that there are many effective ways to organize this document. Your C.V. should be honest, clear, and organized, and present a complete picture of your professional accomplishments, without being padded with extraneous information. For example, you generally do not need to list every church gig or pick-up ensemble performance, unless they are of a high profile nature.  If you have an eye for graphic design and want to create something visually engaging, by all means do so, but make sure that content always takes priority.

If you’re just getting started with a C.V., the following links under “General Advice” will be very helpful in assembling a basic outline. From there, feel free to add some of the items listed in “Categories for Musicians: A Few Possibilities.” Be open to suggestions from others on your C.V., and try to make time each month or so to update it with your most recent accomplishments. Having an updated C.V. will save you time when the next opportunity comes along!

General Advice

Categories for Musicians: A Few Possibilities

  • Performance Positions – List in reverse chronological order, include past and present professional orchestra/band positions, established chamber ensembles, etc.
  • Music Festivals and Institutes Attended
  • Adjudication Experience – Competitions, auditions, etc.
  • Publications – in addition to the traditional books, articles, and reviews, you can list audio recordings (as a solo/featured artist, or collaborating artist), original compositions, musical arrangements, etc.) If you have an active professional website or YouTube channel you may consider including these as well. Organize all of the above by category, so that they are clear to the reader at a glance.
  • Selected Student Positions and Accomplishments – Jobs, competitions, auditions, etc.
  • Commissions and Premieres
  • Guest Masterclasses
  • Conference Performances and Presentations – You may consider organizing these both chronologically and by scope: international, national, regional, and state. I like this because it draws attention to the most high profile things you have done.
  • Selected Solo and Chamber Music Performances – You will want to limit these to the most significant ones.
  • Recent Orchestral Performances – Again, limit these to the most recent and/or significant.

Lagniappe Brass Videos

LAGNIAPPE BRASS LOGO(3)Last week the ULM Brass Faculty presented our annual holiday concert. This is always a fun concert, but this year there were a number of things that made the event special. First, our concert was part of a new chamber music series for the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, called “MSO Presents.” Second, we were joined by some special guests, turning our brass trio (Black Bayou Brass) into a full brass quintet, the Lagniappe Brass.  The term “lagniappe” is derived from a Louisiana French Creole word meaning “something given as a bonus or extra gift.” We thought it a fitting name for this ad hoc ensemble, and we hope to schedule more performances in the future. Our extra players included Steven Cunningham (trumpet) from Grambling State University, Cory Mixdorf (trombone) from the University of Arkansas, and a few ULM students who helped out on percussion parts for Sleigh Ride. For several pieces on the program we were also joined by ULM keyboard professor Richard Seiler on the organ. It was a really fun concert, with great attendance and an appreciative audience, for which we are extremely grateful! Special thanks to Steven and Cory; Craig West, Executive Director of the MSO; and Grace Episcopal Church in Monroe, LA. This concert would not have been possible without their efforts. And now, here are some brief excerpts from the concert. Hopefully they will put you in the holiday spirit!

*For those interested in the technical side of these things, see additional note at the bottom of this post.

We recorded this performance using several different methods: two Zoom Q2n recorders set up in front and behind the ensemble (primarily for video, but also recording audio), a pair of Cascade ribbon microphones set up in a Blumlein configuration directly in front of the quintet, and a Zoom H4 set up in the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary. All of these audio sources gave us a variety of ways to mix the sound, which I did using Logic Pro X after the fact. It would have been easier to run everything into the same audio interface, but we didn’t have the capability to do that for this particular performance. The video switching was created using Final Cut Pro, which has a very handy tool for syncing audio and video from various sources. Looking at the various videos back to back, you can tell that I was experimenting with (or rather fumbling around with) different lighting effects and color balances. This was my first experience with combining video and audio from so many different sources, but I think the end product is more visually engaging than a single camera. Look for more videos like this from us in the future!

Throwback Thursday: Senior Recital Recordings, October, 2001

While going through some old CDs recently, I came across my final undergraduate recital at Appalachian State University. I don’t recall the exact date, but it would have been sometime in October of 2001. I had not listened to these recordings in years, and doing so was a great trip down memory lane. Here is the program, with embedded audio. Feel free to take a listen!

Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of the program handy, but if memory serves here are the names of the other performers.

Kudos to all of them for very fine performances! Overall I still feel good about that recital from nearly 20 years ago. *An interesting piece of information about the Mozart is that one of the viola players injured their hand the day before the recital, and we had to get a sub at the last minute. I can still vividly remember getting the call from my teacher on the day of the recital, and singing my way through an impromptu rehearsal of the Mozart that afternoon with the new violist!

I have many fond memories of Boone and Appalachian State, and  got a terrific undergraduate education there, studying with Dr. Karen Robertson. During my senior year I also had the opportunity to perform with the Asheville Symphony as well as the usual collegiate ensembles. I’m so thankful for those opportunities, as they really helped me get on the right track at an early stage in my career. Looking back on where I was playing-wise at the time, I struggled with the high range and also had issues with intonation, endurance, and consistency of sound. I continued to work through these over the course of my graduate studies and well into my first few years at ULM. To close, I think the big thing to take away from this throwback Thursday post is to never stop practicing! Be proud of your successes  – as I was and still am proud of this recital from 2001 – but always  keep trying to become a better horn player. 

 

Three Kinds of Warmups

The last several weeks have been quite busy, with many performances both on and off campus. Hundreds of miles of driving (and lots of horn playing) provided me with ample time and motivation to think about warming up. I was also inspired by John Ericson’s recent Horn Notes podcast and new publication, The French Horn Warmup Collection. Be sure to check them out as they are both great.

As for my own personal warmup I made the mistake as a young player of thinking that I had  to do the same warmup routine every day, regardless of what condition my chops were in from the previous day, or what other playing obligations lay ahead. I learned the hard way many years ago that this approach doesn’t work for me, and that many professional players modify their routine on a daily basis, depending upon their needs. While I do generally advocate using the same (or similar) warmup more or less regularly, I think there are at least three different kinds of  warmups that an advanced player should work out and be ready to use as necessary. Can these three different warmups actually be modifications to the same basic routine – of course! But they can also be completely different, so long as each is effective at achieving the desired goals. 

The Normal Warmup: Your everyday routine, which should contain a variety of fundamental exercises. You can choose from dozens of published routines, or create your own customized version based on one or more of these. Whatever you decide, your normal warmup should include both easy and challenging patterns, organized in a logical, progressive manner.

The Recuperative Warmup: This type of warmup can be extremely useful the day after a heavy program or rehearsal. Rather than pushing things, this routine should help loosen up any stiffness from the previous day. Long tones at a comfortable dynamic in the middle register and easy slurred patterns are often found in recuperative warmups. Depending on how you structure your Normal Warmup, you may be able to create a Recuperative one simply by modifying a few things. If your day-to-day routine is more aggressive, you may want to experiment with some gentler exercises.

The Quick Warmup: Third, you need a warmup that can get you ready to play in as little time as possible. There will be situations when you don’t have the luxury of playing the entire normal routine, and it’s helpful to know in advance what will work most effectively for you. A quick routine is also useful for rewarming up later in the day after the initial warmup has already been completed. A few long tones, followed by scales and/or harmonic series slurs are often components of a quick warmup.

Have some more thoughts about warming up? Feel free to share in the comments section!

 

Eldon Matlick Masterclass and Recital

Dr. Eldon Matlick with Lee Dunford and Neill Roshto, members of the ULM Horn Studio.

The ULM Horn Studio recently hosted Dr. Eldon Matlick – Professor of Horn at the University of Oklahoma – for a masterclass, recital, and several group lessons. It was a treat getting to observe Professor Matlick’s teaching, and to gain some insight into his pedagogy, which I wasn’t familiar with prior to this visit. It’s always interesting and beneficial for my students (and me) to hear familiar concepts explained in fresh ways. Here are a few ideas that stuck out to me from his masterclass and group lessons with our students:

  • Articulation: “The tongue slices through, but doesn’t stop, a never-ending column of air.”
  • Warming up: use air attacks, begin with mouthpiece buzzing, followed by leadpipe buzzing, then move to the horn.
  • Right Hand Position: Put the right hand straight down the middle of the bell, as described in this video by Engelbert Schmid – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6eDD_nz3xo
  • Accuracy – problems often result when the horn is not correctly tuned. The ear and lips are trying to produce a different pitch than the horn is set up to play. This can be corrected by properly tuning the instrument. *See below.
  • Playing the horn should be easy – this is a principle that was clearly evident in Dr. Matlick’s recital performance, which was wonderful. He never once sounded fatigued, despite playing a program with several big works including the Appel Interstellaire by Messiaen and the Sonata for Horn and Piano, Op. 178 by Joseph Joseph Rheinberger . His playing was heroic and very musical, with a vibrant, singing tone.

Speaking of his program, of special interest is the instrument he used for the Rheinberger, a Vienna horn built by Andreas Jungwirth. I believe this was the first time I’ve heard a Vienna Horn performed live, and it was done masterfully. Kudos also to ULM collaborative pianist Justin Havard for his solid work on the difficult piano part. To my ear, the tone of the Vienna horn is smaller and more focused than the standard double horn, warm and liquid at medium to soft dynamics, with a thrilling (but not unpleasant) edge when played loudly. Dr. Matlick also very generously allowed my students to play on his Jungwirth as well as another Vienna horn made by Yamaha during his masterclass. Though the Vienna horn is primarily used as an orchestral instrument in Austria, there are several groups around the world that promote and advocate for this unique instrument. The Scottish Vienna Horns is but one of many examples. With Dr. Matlick leading the charge, perhaps the Vienna horn is poised to become a more popular and viable option for American horn players. Time will tell!

In closing, be sure you check out Dr. Matlick’s videos on YouTube with the University of Oklahoma Horn Ensemble, as well as his two solo recordings on the Mark Records label: Bavarian Horn and The French Connection. All are excellent examples of great horn playing!

Bonus: Here is the procedure Dr. Matlick suggested for tuning the double horn. Fingerings in [] assume a standard double horn, standing in the key of F.

  1. Play third-space C  [T0] (adjust main tuning slide)
  2. Play third-space C [0] (adjust F tuning slide)
  3. Play third-space C [1] (adjust first valve slide on the F side)
  4. Play third-line B-flat [1], then match [T1] (adjust first valve slide on the B-flat side)
  5. Play fourth-line D [0], then match with  [T12] (adjust second valve slide on the B-flat side)
  6. Play third-line B-natural [T2], then match with [2] (adjust second valve slide on the F side)
  7. Play second space A [12], tune, then match with [T12]
  8. Play second space A [T3], tune slightly low (adjust third valve on B-flat side), then match with [3] (adjust third valve slide on F side)

I think these are all the correct steps, but any errors are certainly mine and not Dr. Matlick’s. While this procedure is slightly different than the way I do things, it will certainly work, and is both systematic and thorough. If you haven’t tuned your horn this way before, give it a try!

 

DIY Horn Repair: Conn 8D Thumb Valve Spring

Today a thumb valve spring snapped on a student’s Conn 8D during a lesson. Obviously, we had to take a break to assess what happened, and to determine if I could do the repair myself or if a trip to the repair shop was in order. While we didn’t have an identical replacement part, I was able to fashion a workable solution from existing materials, see below.

The actual replacement part looks like this (image obtained from https://bandrepairparts.com/store/brass/conn_brass/conn_frenchhorn/2185-spring/)

I did not have a spring shaped like this in my drawer of replacement parts, but I did have some generic valve springs, as shown below:

Comparing the two, I was able to fashion something close using wire cutters and needle-nosed pliers. First I cut the spring roughly in half with wire cutters:

Then I used the pliers to shape the spring into something that looked close to the original:

It isn’t a perfect fit, but after a little fiddling and bending the sharp spring edges down, it is functional. See picture and video below.

Not bad for a day’s work, and this should work nicely until a repair technician can replace the part. Do you have some horn DIY stories to share? Feel free to comment below!

 

Thoughts on Performing Three Recitals in One Week

My recent recital tour went very well, with enthusiastic and engaged audiences at all three venues. Sincere thanks again to my hosts at the University of Arkansas (Dr. Timothy Thompson) and Mississippi State University (Dr. Matthew Haislip). Although the change in my normal routine combined with lots of driving was a bit tiring, the tour was a great experience, and something that I would happily do again. On the horn playing side, performing the same program three times in one week was not as grueling as it might seem, and my preparation was more or less the same as for any other solo performance. However, I made sure to build in a rest day in between each of the performances. On those days I warmed up for about half an hour, but otherwise did very little playing. I would also add that this recital was a bit shorter than what I might program for a one-off performance, just to provide a little extra cushion in case of fatigue. Things sounded and felt pretty good on all three nights, although I definitely noticed a cumulative effect by the final recital. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to dig deep into each work and take some chances that I might not normally take if I were only performing them once.

If you would like to listen to one of our performances, here are videos from our recital at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR. Enjoy!

Nocturno, Op. 73 by Bernhard Eduard Müller

Sonata for Horn and Piano, by Gina Gillie

Romanza for Horn and Piano by Jan Koetsier

Reflections for Horn and Piano, by Paul Basler

Upcoming Recital Program

Lots of exciting things happening this fall as we begin a new semester and academic year. Instead of my usual “Semester Preview,” this time I’ll post separately about individual events as they happen. First up is my annual faculty recital on Monday, September 9, followed by a mini recital tour with performances and master classes at the University of Arkansas (Dr. Timothy Thompson) and Mississippi State University (Dr. Matthew Haislip).  I’ll be joined by a great collaborative pianist, Justin Havard, for a fun and engaging program. It includes a bit of old, but mostly new, music for horn and piano. If you are in the vicinity of any of these performances we would love to see you there!

Here are my program notes.

As a musician, I look to recordings and live performances for inspiration. My first experiences with all of the works on this program were through recordings and/or performances by great artists. It is also worth noting that with the exception of Jan Koetsier’s Romanza, these pieces were all composed by horn players.

Nocturno, Op. 73, Bernhard Eduard Müller (1842-after 1920)

Bernhard Eduard Müller served as second horn in the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig from 1876-1920, and is most well-known today for his two-volume Studies for Horn, Op. 64. Biographical information is scant, though several of his compositions for horn and piano survive. The best of these were recorded by John Ericson of Arizona State University on his album Rescued! (Summit Records). The Nocturno, Op. 73 is a compact but well-crafted piece in a thoroughly Romantic style. The range and technical difficulties are modest, making it accessible to younger players.

Sonata for Horn and Piano, Gina Gillie (b. 1981)

Gina Gillie is an Associate Professor of Music at Pacific Lutheran University, where she teaches applied horn, aural skills, and composition. She performs with two faculty ensembles at PLU, the Camas Wind Quintet and the Lyric Brass Quintet, and is active as an orchestral and freelance performer in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to her distinguished teaching and performing career, she is an accomplished composer, and has received numerous commissions for solo and chamber works. Her music is published by RM Williams, Brass Arts Unlimited, and Veritas Musica. The Sonata for Horn and Piano was commissioned in 2017 by Steven Cohen, and is featured along with several other new works on his album Cruise Control: Horn Music from Five Emerging American Composers (Siegfried’s Call). Gillie balances tradition and innovation throughout this significant three-movement sonata, simultaneously paying respect to the great horn works of the 19th and 20th centuries, while displaying her own unique voice. The first movement, with its contrasting themes and sonata-form construction, masterfully assimilates the German Romantic style. An ascending sixth motive figures prominently, and is transformed in various ways in the following movements. Gounod provides the inspiration for the second movement, a Mélodie in the French style. Gillie is especially gifted at writing beautiful melodies, and crafts long-breathed phrases worthy of the French master. The ascending sixth motive from the first movement is transformed again for the rollicking finale, a Rondo in Afro-Cuban style. This challenging but idiomatic work is great fun!

Romanza, Op. 59/2, Jan Koetsier (1911-2006)

Though relatively little known in the United States – except among brass players – Dutch-born composer, conductor, and professor Jan Koetsier is well-regarded throughout Europe, and especially in Munich, Germany, where he served as professor of conducting at the Hochschule für Musik for many years. As a composer he devoted much of his efforts to brass and wind instruments, and seemed especially interested in developing the repertoire for unusual or under-utilized combinations of instruments. As the title suggests, the Romanza, Op. 59, No. 2 (1972) showcases the lyrical qualities of the horn. In this brief yet effective work, a contrasting scherzo-like central section is framed by a beautiful melody in the outer sections. The Romanza has been recorded numerous times, and an especially beautiful interpretation can be found on the album Deep Remembering by Gail Williams (Summit Records).

Reflections for Horn and Piano, Paul Basler (b. 1963)

Paul Basler, Professor of Music at the University of Florida, is one of the most well-known contemporary composers for the horn. His works have been recorded and performed around the world to critical acclaim. Reflections for Horn and Piano was composed in 2006, and is dedicated to Manuel de Jesús Germán. In the composer’s words, Reflections is “an intensely emotional (and personal) composition and can be considered the ‘sequel’ to Basler’s Canciones for horn and piano and Lacrymosa for two horns and piano.” The five movements each have descriptive titles indicative of style and emotional content, which span a wide range. Basler explores the full range of human emotion, including joy, sorrow, anger, and, ultimately, acceptance. It is one of Basler’s most popular works, and was recently recorded by Patrick Smith for the album Reflections: Horn Music of Paul Basler (Siegfried’s Call). Another particularly inspiring performance of this work was given by Gina Gillie and Richard Seiler in October, 2015 at the University of Louisiana Monroe.

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