21 March 2020

The French Horn: top facts

By Lark Music

Inspired by the playing of Ben Goldscheider at the Young Classical Artists Trust final in May, we thought we’d find out more about his instrument.

There are several bell-shaped brass instruments but the French Horn is known for its unique sound and is an indispensable part of any orchestra.

The French Horn – Top facts:
  • Before the double horn was invented, the “single horn” was primarily used in orchestras and bands. The most popular was the German horn, which emerged in the late nineteenth century and included a slide-crook, which was used to tune the horn. It was also noticeable for its much larger bell-horn, which made it much wider than any subsequent incarnation of the French horn.
  • Although the horn is an ancient instrument, the French horn made its debut in a Ballet in paris in 1664.
  • It’s not actually one piece. The French horn comes in pieces because of its awkward shape to make it easier to transport.
  • When uncoiled, the horn is between 12 to 13 feet long!
  • Musicians don’t just place their hands in French horns to hold them in position. It actually affects the pitch of certain notes, meaning the musician uses more than breathing techniques and lip tension to stay in-tune.
  • The French horn the widest range of notes out of any brass instrument.
  • The horn is often called the most difficult instrument to play. Although it can hit such a wide range of notes, it’s incredibly easy for a musician to crack notes or play flat, making it an even more impressive feat to truly master the French horn.

Information for this post was source from the “Horn” entry by Renato Meucci and Gabriele Rocchetti in Grove Music Online.

“I know it’s easier said than done but I would love to be a soloist and promote the horn as a solo instrument in a way that has not been done in the mainstream before.”

Despite a lack of music and precedent, Ben is determined to bring the horn to the limelight as a solo instrument.

“I just love the sound of the instrument. To me, it’s obvious that it should be a solo instrument. I want to spread the word and the joy of the horn. I want people to know it more as a solo instrument and appreciate its versatility.”

Find out more about Ben, here: bengoldscheider.com

Featured image credit: Kaupo Kikkas