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Stephen Lawson, horn
Mila Markun, piano
Haydn is credited with writing 2 concertos for horn. However, Concerto No. 2 was most likely composed by his brother, Michael. Concerto in D (No. I) was written while at the Esterhazy court, most probably for Johann Knoblauch, known to have been the first horn player of the orchestra in 1762. Each movement demonstrates characteristic forms and style of Classical era high hand horn players. For this evening's performance, the double exposition form, in which the orchestra would first present themes, has been edited by the performers. A feature of this work is the use of cadenzas in each movement. This piece is offered as homage to Haydn, as it is the bicentennial year of his death.
During the era of hand-horn performance practice, the horn was extremely popular. After the piano and violin, the horn ranked third among all instruments for solo repertoire. It was part of the training of a composer to write for horn, as the horn could not produce all tones equally as a piano or stringed instrument.
Valves were invented around 1815. However, Parisian orchestras and the Paris Conservatory still used hand-horn technique until 1910. During this nearly 100 year span, various types of valves were developed including pistons, rotors and the Viennese "pumpen-valve". Several theories have been expounded on the slow transition to universal valve acceptance.
J. F. Gallay was a professor of horn at the Paris Conservatory during this period of transition. He had been a student there and earned various prizes for his skill as a hand horn performer. Gallay was very prolific as a composer of horn studies, duets, solos, quartets, and chamber music. In each of these he integrates tuneful melodies and technical passages. Considering these pieces as intended, for a horn without valves, shows a high level of virtuosity among 19th century performers. Gallay's compositional craft further developed the art of performing on horns without valves. Compared with Haydn's concerto, there is a greater use of the hand to produce various notes and a greater variety of keys, all produced on the same length of tubing.
The Glass Bead Game offers a contemporary concerto that is exciting and challenging. One does not need a programmatic reference to enjoy this piece. However, as Beckel provides such notes, one may gain insight into the composer's imagination.
From notes provided by the composer, "Mr. Beckel graduated from the Indiana University School of Music and has been the Principal Trombone of the Indianapolis Symphony since 1969." "The Glass Bead Game is a horn concerto loosely based on the Herman Hesse novel of the same title. This work is programmatic in nature while following the basic concerto form. In the first movement, two main themes dominate. The work opens with a bitonal motif based in Eb major and A major. This musical idea is meant to represent Hesse's existential philosophy ... in which man exists as an individual in a purposeless universe that is basically hostile. [The opening horn call] is a leitmotif representing the main character, Joseph Knecht. Knecht meets the Music Master, who accepts our hero into the intellectual society of Castalia.
The second movement is dedicated to Father Jacobus. This movement makes use of sounds sustained into each other, as you would hear in a Great Cathedral. The movement is meant to reflect the peace that Joseph Knecht felt with the introduction of history and religion.
The final movement is the most programmatic. This movement begins with the opening celebration of Knecht's coronation to the post of Magister Ludi. The celebration is heard at first from a distance. Since Joseph Knecht is reticent about his promotion to this high post, the horn never plays the Celebration March melody, but answers the melody with protest. The second movement theme is referenced as Knecht, now burdened with responsibility, reflects on his more tranquil past at the monastery with Father Jacobus. At the close of the movement, the drowning sequence is loosely reflected in the music when the opening themes of the third movement return as our main character drowns.
Opening thematic material returns at the end [muted] and programmatically is referencing the end of the novel where, Joseph Knecht's student, Tito, is now sitting on the lake's shore in shock over the death of his teacher. But the main character lives on in Tito's mind as a wonderful teacher and mentor."
Smith Recital Hall
concerts, recitals, horn, concerto
Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | Music | Music Performance
Lawson, Stephen, "Marshall University Music Department Presents Stephen Lawson, horn" (2009). All Performances. 584.