History of the French Horn

The modern French horn or — as the players themselves prefer to call it, “the horn” — has a long history of use. For many years its predecessors were instruments used to signal important events such as festivals, hunts, or even danger. As years passed, noted musicians and wealthy patrons of music recognized its possibilities as an orchestral instrument. By the middle to late 1600s, the Horn was frequently seen in orchestras throughout Europe. Prominent composers also began to write concertos for the instrument. By the end of the 1700s a wide variety of solo literature had been published for the French horn.


Today, the French horn is known for its versatility. The sound can be smooth and mellow, strong and majestic. While recognized for its beautiful songlike quality, the horn is engineered to play fast technical passages at full throttle. The horn is right at home in the symphony orchestra, the concert band, woodwind quintets, and in some jazz ensembles. Major movie and TV composers frequently use the instrument in a dominant role in their compositions.


How it Works


The French horn is part of the brass family of instruments. To produce the sound, the player's lips "buzz" on the mouthpiece as air is pushed from the abdomen. The range of the French horn is over 3 octaves, very broad, indeed.


Because this instrument can be a bit more challenging than some of the other brass instruments, it is recommended that the student be one who is able to duplicate pitches quite accurately. Beautiful music and the opportunity for college scholarships are among the many rewards of playing the horn well.


Recommended brands: Yamaha, Accent, Eastman, Conn, and Baier


© 2020 by Summerhays Music Center

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