The Most Terrifying French Horn Entrance in the Repertoire

 

I loved doing the Ricochet podcast this morning—the highlight of my week. 

That Firebird entrance—you’ll know what I’m talking about if you listen to the podcast—is a killer. In the video below, the horn entrance starts at 26:32. Clearly, some sort of revenge against horn players. Stravinsky must have lost a girlfriend to one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2geXJ5Oiq60

In general, playing principal horn in an orchestra is an odd mix of boredom and terror. You sit there for 20 minutes, getting all cold and stiff. Then you have a scary entrance like that. Even worse than Firebird, listen to the opening of Bruckner 4. Total nightmare.

It’s good to start out playing horn for a living for 12 years and then do something else. For the rest of my life, I’ll always note that whatever I’m doing is easier because I’m not holding a French horn.

If you want more laughs, my team posted this set of old music photos. Ah, the ravages of time.

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Members have made 31 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    I was a horn player in school.

    Horn players are great kissers, but we hold our girlfriends funny.

    • #1
    • May 11, 2012 at 3:32 am
  2. Profile photo of jeffp Member
    ParisParamus: Can anyone recommend radio stations that play a good mix of classical music; not all depressing; not all “famous classical”? · 9 hours ago

    KMFA, a listener-supported classical station in Austin (note to Rob’s accusers: no NPR affiliation!), offers a nice mix of music and the option to listen online.

    • #2
    • May 11, 2012 at 4:08 am
  3. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    Arthur Brooks:

    In general, playing principal horn in an orchestra is an odd mix of boredom and terror. You sit there for 20 minutes, getting all cold and stiff. Then you have a scary entrance like that. 

    Is that better or worse than being stuck playing auxiliary percussion, which is a mix of abject boredom and futile absurdity. You sit silent for most of the songs, except for those pieces where you get to hit your triangle a couple of times, or are required to play a few notes on the glockenspiel.

    “I joined this outfit so I could play the drums! What’s this glockenspiel crap?! Nobody said I’d have to learn how to read music! If I wanna learn about Melody and Harmony I’d just go to a sleazy hotel lounge and buy them each a drink!”

    To be fair, whacking away at the kettle drums was kinda fun, but precious few pieces called for them. Usually I just sat at the back of the stage throwing scrunched up balls of paper into the tuba.

    • #3
    • May 11, 2012 at 4:15 am
  4. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher
    Mark Wilson
    Percival

    HAH!

    How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?

    Just one, but the rest of the section will stand around and talk about how much better theycould have done it. · 3 hours ago

    Nice, but when I tell that joke it comes out funnier. =D

    One summer in high school I made it into all-state. During breaks, all the trumpets would play the most challenging part of their audition pieces over and over for each other. We’re congenital show-offs. · 3 hours ago

    Edited 3 hours ago

    Did you hear about the conductor who locked his keys in his car?

    It took him an hour and a half to get the drummer out.

    “This button. Here. Look at me…no…look…at me…”

    • #4
    • May 11, 2012 at 4:19 am
  5. Profile photo of KarlUB Inactive

    Stop dissing on the triangle. As George Plimpton could tell you, it ain’t nearly as straightforward as it looks.

    For one thing, every triangle entrance is as terrifying as this horn entrance in the Firebird.

    • #5
    • May 11, 2012 at 5:04 am
  6. Profile photo of SpinozaCarWash Inactive

    Nailed it.

    • #6
    • May 11, 2012 at 6:06 am
  7. Profile photo of doc molloy Inactive

    You were brilliant. When are you running for prez? Then you can truly blow your horn.. Gotta get the book. 

    • #7
    • May 11, 2012 at 6:07 am
  8. Profile photo of doc molloy Inactive

    I’m listening to the opening of The Firebird but am seeing a great big shark… Do I hear an underlying movie theme here? Perhaps an inspirational tone with more bite .. more up beat on the heart beat.

    • #8
    • May 11, 2012 at 6:19 am
  9. Profile photo of Chairborne Inactive

    Honestly, this is a fairly easy entrance for the solo horn. It’s in a comfortable part of the range at a soft dynamic. Nothing nail-biting here, just count your rests.

    Great recording! It’s always interesting to see a composer conduct their own music.

    • #9
    • May 11, 2012 at 6:51 am
  10. Profile photo of ParisParamus Member

    Can anyone recommend radio stations that play a good mix of classical music; not all depressing; not all “famous classical”?

    • #10
    • May 11, 2012 at 7:04 am
  11. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    KarlUB: Stop dissing on the triangle. As George Plimpton could tell you, it ain’t nearly as straightforward as it looks.

    For one thing,everytriangle entrance is as terrifying as this horn entrance in theFirebird.

    I disagree, cuz the triangle player doesn’t care like a French Horn player.

    The triangle player just looks at the kid who was chosen to play drums and seethes in furious envy.

    Maybe that was just me….

    • #11
    • May 11, 2012 at 7:18 am
  12. Profile photo of NotesFromUnderground Inactive

    Horn players have somehow managed to convince the world that their instrument is so incredibly challenging that we should all be awed (and thankful) when they manage to play right notes. This brainwashing has been so complete and effective that nobody dares to question it.

    However, if the trumpets screw up an entrance…

    • #12
    • May 11, 2012 at 7:38 am
  13. Profile photo of Chris Hurtubise Inactive

    “Hold that triangle higher, Hurtubise!”

    [Sheepishly raises triangle]

    “Higher!”

    [Getting a bit angry, raises triangle higher]

    “Everyone wants to see that triangle — higher!”

    [Fuming, holds the shameful instrument at arm’s length above his head — the only instrument in the orchestra that is so profoundly rudimentary it is named after a shape]

    • #13
    • May 11, 2012 at 7:50 am
  14. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher
    Leah: Horn players have somehow managed to convince the world that their instrument is so incredibly challenging that we should all be awed (and thankful) when they manage to play right notes. This brainwashing has been so complete and effective that nobody dares to question it.

    However, if the trumpets screw up an entrance… · 0 minutes ago

    HAH!

    How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?

    Just one, but the rest of the section will stand around and talk about how much better they could have done it.

    • #14
    • May 11, 2012 at 7:55 am
  15. Profile photo of Margaret Ball Inactive

    I don’t think any brass players suffer as much as oboists. All oboe players I’ve known are obsessed with a fear that their reeds will fail them at the beginning of an exposed section.

    (Spoken as a flute player who was never good enough to be out of the background, and was quite happy to hide there; I have a viola personality and didn’t realize this until it was too late.)

    • #15
    • May 11, 2012 at 7:57 am
  16. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive
    ParisParamus: Can anyone recommend radio stations that play a good mix of classical music; not all depressing; not all “famous classical”? · 13 hours ago

    WFMT out of Chicago is very, very good: http://www.wfmt.com/

    WBJC from Baltimore is also good: http://www.wbjc.com/

    For something a bit different, try ABC Classic FM from Australia – http://www.abc.net.au/classic/. Since it’s night there when it’s day here, the live programming you’ll hear is likely to be more interesting and not just old warhorses. You can also listen to any one of their recent programs from any time of the day.

    • #16
    • May 11, 2012 at 8:09 am
  17. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive
    KarlUB: Stop dissing on the triangle. As George Plimpton could tell you, it ain’t nearly as straightforward as it looks.

    For one thing, everytriangle entrance is as terrifying as this horn entrance in the Firebird. · 3 hours ago

    Now that is true. If a cellist came in late, the rest of the section would cover for him. There’s no cover for a triangle player.

    • #17
    • May 11, 2012 at 8:10 am
  18. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive

    Can we start in on viola jokes now?

    How about now?

    C’mon.

    • #18
    • May 11, 2012 at 8:16 am
  19. Profile photo of Spin Inactive

    I told the dog story around the dinner table. Your views on the moral argument are absolutely correct.

    • #19
    • May 11, 2012 at 8:16 am
  20. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    Leporello
    KarlUB: Stop dissing on the triangle. As George Plimpton could tell you, it ain’t nearly as straightforward as it looks.

    For one thing, everytriangle entrance is as terrifying as this horn entrance in the Firebird.

    Now that is true. If a cellist came in late, the rest of the section would cover for him. There’s no cover for a triangle player.

    Sure there is: Just don’t bother.

    There were plenty of student band concerts where I just ducked down at the back and took a nap. The music teacher either never noticed that my part was missing, or simply didn’t care.

    I really shoulda taken photography instead of music. 😉

    • #20
    • May 11, 2012 at 8:21 am
  21. Profile photo of Underground Conservative Coolidge
    Misthiocracy

    Is that better or worse than being stuck playing auxiliary percussion, which is a mix of abject boredom and futile absurdity. You sit silent for most of the songs, except for those pieces where you get to hit your triangle a couple of times, or are required to play a few notes on the glockenspiel.

    “I joined this outfit so I could play the drums! What’s this glockenspiel crap?! Nobody said I’d have to learn how to readmusic! If I wanna learn about Melody and Harmony I’d just go to a sleazy hotel lounge and buy them each a drink!”

    To be fair, whacking away at the kettle drums waskinda fun, but precious few pieces called for them. Usually I just sat at the back of the stage throwing scrunched up balls of paper into the tuba. · 5 hours ago

    Did you see the Cheers episode where the symbol player came into the bar to drink between rests? Hilarious.

    • #21
    • May 11, 2012 at 8:59 am
  22. Profile photo of Songwriter Member
    Misthiocracy
    Arthur Brooks:

    In general, playing principal horn in an orchestra is an odd mix of boredom and terror. You sit there for 20 minutes, getting all cold and stiff. Then you have a scary entrance like that. 

    Is that better or worse than being stuck playing auxiliary percussion, which is a mix of abject boredom and futile absurdity. 

    To be fair, whacking away at the kettle drums waskinda fun, but precious few pieces called for them. Usually I just sat at the back of the stage throwing scrunched up balls of paper into the tuba. · 17 hours ago

    Yes – but did you ever hide a fellow percussionist INSIDE the concert bass drum. We did that once – in a high school band rehearsal. The kid sat inside the drum (with both drums heads on it) for an entire rehearsal. And the band director never noticed he was missing.

    The most dangerous section in any orchestra or band is the percussion section – should they ever become bored.

    • #22
    • May 11, 2012 at 9:35 am
  23. Profile photo of Songwriter Member
    Dave Molinari

    Did you see the Cheers episode where the symbol player came into the bar to drink between rests? Hilarious. · 13 hours ago

    I wonder if the writers got the idea from the famous orchestra/assassination scene in “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” in which the cymbal player watched something like 400 measures of rests go by while waiting to play a single crash. In the midst of a very tense scene, I thought that was hilarious.

    • #23
    • May 11, 2012 at 9:39 am
  24. Profile photo of Songwriter Member
    Leporello If a cellist came in late, the rest of the section would cover for him.

    IF a cellist came in late? What do you mean IF? You mean WHEN the cellist comes in late, the rest of the section will come in late also.

    To a string section, a downbeat is merely a suggestion for when the music starts.

    • #24
    • May 11, 2012 at 9:43 am
  25. Profile photo of Songwriter Member

    So – just how many ex-band geeks lurk around Ricochet?

    Signed – former band president, music ed major, and percussionist.

    • #25
    • May 11, 2012 at 9:44 am
  26. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member
    Percival

    HAH!

    How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?

    Just one, but the rest of the section will stand around and talk about how much better theycould have done it. · 3 hours ago

    Nice, but when I tell that joke it comes out funnier. =D

    One summer in high school I made it into all-state. During breaks, all the trumpets would play the most challenging part of their audition pieces over and over for each other. We’re congenital show-offs.

    • #26
    • May 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm
  27. Profile photo of Arahant Member

    So, do you know what a violinist uses for birth control? His personality. This thread has brought back some memories.

    • #27
    • May 13, 2012 at 3:31 am
  28. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    ParisParamus: Can anyone recommend radio stations that play a good mix of classical music; not all depressing; not all “famous classical”? · May 10 at 7:04pm

    Have you heard of Pandora.com?

    • #28
    • May 13, 2012 at 3:35 am
  29. Profile photo of Misthiocracy Member
    Songwriter

    Yes – but did you ever hide a fellow percussionist INSIDE the concert bass drum. We did that once – in a high school band rehearsal. The kid sat inside the drum (with both drums heads on it) for an entire rehearsal. And the band director never noticed he was missing.

    That’s great.

    Never did that one, but I did surrepticiously change the settings on the synthesizer, during a concert at a grocery store, from the “piano” sound to the “space fantasy” sound, right before the pianist’s solo.

    That was grade 8.

    Teacher was all like, “who would you even do that?!”

    Boy, am I ever glad we didn’t have anti-bullying laws back then …

    • #29
    • May 13, 2012 at 3:42 am
  30. Profile photo of Paul Erickson Member

    We all have stories. Final mvt of Brahms 1st. Took out the main tuning slide to empty the horn, dropped it under the riser. Missed the only meaty entrance of the symphony.

    My scary entrance is the first horn solo near the end of the New World Symphony.

    • #30
    • May 15, 2012 at 5:06 am
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