The French horn has a rich and varied repertoire which ranges from classical and romantic works to contemporary and experimental musci. Here are some of the most important and popular musical works in the French horn repertoire:
Mozart’s Horn Concertos
The horn concertos of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are some of the most famous and frequently performed pieces in the French horn repertoire. He composed four concertos for the instrument, which were likely written for his friend Joseph Leutgeb, a skilled horn player who Mozart knew from his time in Salzburg. We believe these works to be worthy of special note so…
Here is a brief overview of each of Mozart’s horn concertos:
- Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major, K. 412/514: This was the first of Mozart’s horn concertos, composed in 1782. It is a relatively short and light-hearted piece, with a simple yet elegant melody and playful virtuosic passages.
- Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat Major, K. 417: Composed in 1783, this concerto is slightly longer and more substantial than the first. It features a beautiful, lyrical melody in the first movement, followed by a technically demanding second movement and a lively third movement.
- Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat Major, K. 447: Composed in 1787, this concerto is one of the most famous and frequently performed works in the French horn repertoire. It features a beautiful, lyrical melody in the first movement, followed by a virtuosic and challenging second movement and a lively third movement.
- Horn Concerto No. 4 in E-flat Major, K. 495: Composed in 1786, this concerto is the most substantial and complex of Mozart’s horn concertos. It features a wide range of moods and textures, from the grand and majestic first movement to the lyrical and expressive slow movement, and the virtuosic and playful third movement.
All of Mozart’s horn concertos are known for their elegant phrasing, beautiful melodies and virtuosic passages. They are also notable for their use of the natural horn which requires the player to use different fingerings and techniques to produce different notes. Mozart’s horn concertos are a testament to his skill as a composer and his deep understanding of the French horn as an instrument.
Other Important Works In The French Horn Repertoire
Strauss Horn Concertos: Richard Strauss composed two horn concertos, as well as several other works featuring the French horn. These works are known for their technical demands and lush, Romantic style.
Schumann Adagio and Allegro: This piece is a popular choice for French horn players and features a beautiful, lyrical melody in the adagio section, followed by a virtuosic and challenging allegro.
Brahms Trio for Piano, Violin and French Horn: This chamber music work features the French horn as a solo instrument, alongside piano and violin. It is known for its rich harmonies and expressive melodies.
Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings: This piece is a popular choice for many French horn players because it showcases the instrument’s ability to produce a wide range of sounds and textures. The piece also uses poetry by British poets such as Alfred Lord Tennyson and William Blake.
Ligeti Horn Trio: This contemporary piece of music features the French horn with violin and piano and is known for its use of extended techniques and unusual harmonies.
Glière Horn Concerto: This Russian Romantic work features a beautiful, lyrical melody in the first movement which is followed by a technically demanding second movement and a lively third.
The French horn’s repertoire does, of course, go far beyond what we have listed here. It is as extensive and diverse as that of just about any other instrument. Any student of French horn will be able to explore countless other works. Read more on the Wikipedia horn page.