Website: The History of Horn Playing in Los Angeles

Thanks to some recent correspondence with Dr. Howard Hilliard – a prominent teacher and freelance player in Texas – I was pointed towards an excellent resource on the history of studio horn playing in Los Angeles.  Located here,  Hilliard’s site includes information from his doctoral dissertation and articles he has published in The Horn Call, as well as a photo gallery and several nice audio clips.  The image at left is of Alfred Brain – Dennis Brain’s uncle, and one of the “founding fathers” of LA studio horn playing –  and is linked from the site’s photo gallery.   Much of this site is devoted to a detailed history of the horn players and working conditions in Los Angeles during the 20th century, and makes for a very interesting read.  The history is divided into several chapters: Introduction, Pre-War and WWII Years, Studio Contract Orchestras, Freelance Era, De Rosa and the LA Phil, LA Horn Club, Conclusion, and Bibliography.  Though there is way too much information contained here to cover in one sitting, I’ve been slowly working my way through the material.  When I was a young player, one of my first encounters with fine horn playing was through movie and TV scores, and I still have a warm place in my heart for the classic “Hollywood Sound.”  This tonal concept has influenced horn players throughout the world, and is well documented in the audio clips on the site.  Among the clips are recordings of the LA Horn Club performing Alec Wilder’s Nonet for Brass and George Hyde’s Color Contrasts, and solo clips with Vincent De Rosa and James Decker.  Another interesting feature is a catalog of the holdings in the Wendell Hoss Memorial Library.  Containing works for 4-16 horns, the catalog serves as an excellent introduction to horn ensemble literature.  In my correspondence with Dr. Hilliard, he mentioned that he wanted to update the site to a newer design, which would make this great site even better.  One other tidbit he passed along was that he is planning to release a new edition of his Lip Slurs for Horn publication.  Check out the website, and be on the lookout for the new edition of his book.

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