The French horn (since the 1930s known simply as the "horn" in some professional music circles) is a brass instrument made of tubing wrapped into a coil with a flared bell. The double horn in F/B♭ (technically a variety of German horn) is the horn most often used by players in professional orchestras and bands. A musician who plays any kind of horn is generally referred to as a horn player (or less frequently, a hornist).
Horn Sonata No. 3
This is my third new sonata for unaccompanied French horn. it has three movements as follows:
Movement 1: Dance
It begins with a crotchet theme which forms the basis of the rest of the movement.
The opening should be stately and measured, but not slow. The echoes should be as quiet as possible for each statement of the opening motif.
I have made a lot of use of rhythmic features in this movement. After the Maestoso, the 12/8 section is in the nature of a jig, with lots of repeated pitches and very rhythmical There's much use of syncopation. After I have played around with these ideas (intervals based on the opening) there is a more legato tune, also based on the opening music, but in a grander style and marked nobilmente. This is almost a processional, and leads to a reprise of the jig motifs in a new mode and with modifications to the rhythm.
The second movement of this sonata is a set of 3 variations on an original tune. The melody is quite hymn-like and needs to be played as such. Very legato, with very slight tongue.
Variation 1 is an 8th note variation, with a slight increase in tempo to help it to flow. The player will need to pay close attention to the written phrasing so as not to lose the theme. This variation is p throughout.
Variation 2 is a triplet/sextuplet variation, again with a slight increase in tempo. This variation has turns, which I have written out in ossias above to be clear how I would like it to be played.
Variation 3 is a semiquaver and glissando variation, requiring good tongue technique and clear phrasing. Breathing should be easy as I have made provision for breaths to mark the ends of phrases. Please don't change these!
Finally, there is a restatement of the original theme with slight adaptations to bring the movement to a quiet finish.
The third and final movement of the sonata is a rondo. The opening music keeps returning throughout the length of the movement. It comprises a stuttering rhythmic phrase with alternating upwards and downwards scales which gradually build up throughout the opening of the movement.
Each time the ritornello idea returns it has been altered in some way. Between the ritornelli are slightly less frenetic sections of cantabile melodic ideas which hark back to both the first and second movements as well as referencing the scalic ideas from the third movement.
Although the music is fast, it should be playable without resorting to triple tonguing.
Horn Sonata No. 2
This is my second Horn Sonata for unaccompanied horn. Like the first, it has 3 movements, each of which can be played on their own.
1st. Movement: Andante piacere
The music of the first section is based on the opening idea. The descending glissandos and the repeated note figures should be taken in a leisurely way, a piacere, rather than in totally strict time. In bar 10, the flz should appear out of the tied note, without a fresh tongue.
From letter A, the music is based on the repeated note patterns which are gradually developed and metamorphosed into new shapes in a gradual process. At letter B, a second motif is added which is more expressive and dynamically diverse. The development of this idea reaches a climax at the rall before letter C, from where this idea becomes more frenetic and agitated until it 'tires itself out' in the pauses before letter D.
Here the original repeated note motif reappears to provide a basic ternary shape as the original ideas, changed by the development process are re-stated in their new forms. The closing pauses should be played as marked, with comma breaks, but not between the two notes in the penultimate bar.
2nd Movement: Adagio
This movement is slow and wistful, atmospheric and drifting. Each phrase should be given its own space. Each individual motif has its own rises and falls and these should be tastefully exaggerated to give them as much definition as possible. 3rd. Movement: Allegro vivace
This movement is intended to be flashy and full of life. The 7/8 time signature gives it plenty of off-beat vivacity. Players will need to make sure they know what the pulse is as it shifts from 2+2+3 to 2+3+2 and 3+2+2.
Much of the material (motifs) are related to the music of the first two movements so this rousing finale will brig a sense of completeness to the performance of the sonata, though it can, of course, be played as a separate piece in its own right.
This movement is both enjoyable and challenging, requiring a good technique and counting skills. The subtle shifts to 6/8 and 5/8 - and even 3/4 time need to be treated with care.
Horn Sonata No. 1:
This is a brand new piece composed for French Horn without accompaniment. It has three movements all connected by the opening material of the first movement. I am publishing this piece as separate movements as well as a complete edition.
The opening movement is marked andante. It opens with a repeated tonic followed by an arpeggiated 1/16th figure with a closing descending scale. These three ideas form the basic musical material for the whole sonata. Throughout the first movement these three ideas are transformed and manipulated, expanded and contracted while maintaining a clear musical structure (basically Ternary form). As with sonata form, the final reprise of the original ideas is transformed by their 'journey'.
The style of the music is rather like a Bach partita for solo instrument.
The movement takes the player through most of the horn's range, but does not require any extended techniques, so should be handleable by moderately skilled players.
This slow movement requires excellent breath control. It uses the repeated not idea from the 1st movement to open, expanding the rhythm to create a rather melancholy pattern. Later, the scalic 1/16th are utilised to link to the Più mosso section where the arpeggio idea (this time descending) helps to create a feeling of wide open space and emptiness. The player is in an empty universe, drifting slowly away as the dynamics become ever quieter until the ending at ppp.
This movement opens with a similar idea to the previous two, but at a fairly quick Allegro (quarter = 132) and using arpeggios in triplets to drive the music through.
The dotted half noes with crescs at the end of the phrase should really be pushed into brassiness at the end of the cresc.
I ask the player to do rip glisses, some of them difficult to achieve, and also gestopft and 'half stopped'. Although these are 'hand horn' techniques that survive from before the invention of valves, they are still useful to create a different effect than from standard mutes. Where these techniques are asked for, a silvery, ethereal tone is required as a contrast to the brash 'hunting horn' style of the outer sections of the movement.
The middle part of this movement is quasi a cadenza. The stopping instructions are intended to have an effect on the tuning as well as the timbre of the notes. The first pair of each group of three should be slurred smoothly.
The final section reprises the beginning of the movement, but at breakneck speed. quarter = 144 is advisory only. The faster the better.
This movement again makes use of the extremes of the horn's range and makes high demands on stamina and tonguing.