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Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759): Six
pieces from the Water Music (arrangement) 9:42
Louis François Dauprat (1781-1868): Sextuor
pour six cors en différents tons - Le Grand Sextuor 38:19
13 Variations on a a Venetian folk song (arrangement) 3:50
14 Czech Polkas (arrangement) 4:15
Zdeněk Tylšar, Jindřich Kolář, Petr
Hernych, Petr Kotlán, Bedřich Tylšar and Radek Baborák, French horns
The French horn, conceived in human terms, is a good honorable man who can be recommended in almost any social circle not exactly as a genius but as a sensitive soul. What is most remarkable is that precisely this instrument more than any other has a powerful effect on the animal kingdom. A forest full of animals halts in its tracks and gives ear when the full-toned horn blazes forth. [...] It affects those far away as much as those nearby. Charm and, if one may speak in these terms, friendly intimacy are the fundamental traits of this splendid instrument.
Schubart, Attempt at an Aesthetic of Musical Art, 1784
The French horn - how much lies hidden in this remarkable instrument of nobility, refinement, heroism, and the festive mood of a hunting fanfare! A brief look into the history of the French horn takes us back to its origins as a 'royal' instrument at the courts of French kings: King Louis IX found such delight in the hunting horn that he had one placed with him in his grave. Charles IX, according to the testimony of his personal surgeon A Paré, died 'from exhaustion incurred in playing the horn'. And Louis XV, a passionate hunter, himself composed several hunting fanfares. In the time of these monarchs the French horn was an ornament during the elaborate hunts with dogs and horses which were an inseparable part of French culture, especially during the reign of Louis XIV.
The second half of the eighteenth century can be called the golden age of the French horn. During this time the Czech hornists J Hampel and J Houdek, working in Dresden, engendered a decisive turning point in the technique of playing the instrument. Evidently in the effort to soften and dampen the French horn's tone, which was no longer used for crude blaring in the open air but served in the orchestra as harmonic filler (and already more and more frequently for soloistic use), they tried inserting their hand into the bell. (The instrument up to this time was held with its bell upward!) In the course of these experiments, they discovered that with various positions of the hand in the bell not only the color of the tone but also its height is changed. This meant that besides the natural tones, from this time on the tones filling in the gaps between them could be played, by muting or 'suffocating'. A further improvement of the simple horn came in collaboration with the Dresden instrument-maker J Werner. He built into the instrument a 'main vent', which made possible, just as today, quite fine adjustments in tuning. This invention gained immediate popularity, and the French horn became a very attractive instrument for composers. During this time we find the largest number of compositions for solo French horn in its whole history.
The invention of a valve system by H Stölzel in 1818 and its perfection by A F Sattler was not accepted nearly as warmly and unequivocally by either hornists or composers, although it represents in essence the climax of the French horn's development. Many curious situations arose - for exemple Carl Maria von Weber never accepted the valve horn, 'robbed of poetry', into his orchestra, and Georges Bizet as late as 1875 in the opera Carmen called for two valve trumpets, but four valveless horns!
During this period, a revolutionary one for the French horn, one of the best French horn players of the era was at the peak of his artistic career: Louis François Dauprat (1781 - 1868). As a fifteen-year old boy he received a silver-plated French horn from the famous instrument-maker L J Raoux as first prize in a horn competition at the Paris Conservatory, where he later (1816 - 1842) worked himself as a French horn professor. Dauprat belonged to the group of conservatory players who preferred the old-fashioned instrument. He summarized his practical experience in the excellent treatise Méthode de Cor Alto et Cor Basse (1824), used at the Paris Conservatory practically to the end of the nineteenth century. Although Dauprat was an outstanding soloist, because of his distaste for public appearances and natural modesty he preferred to play in the orchestra of the Paris Opera. After his retirement in 1842 he lived mostly with his married daughter in Egypt, travelling to Paris only occasionally. As a composer, Dauprat is remarkable for his rich invention and sometimes daring harmonies; he was a pupil of Antonín Rejcha in composition. A representative work is Sextuor pour six cors en différents tons, Op. 10. The extraordinary technical demands of this composition require consummate art from all the performers.
The complementary selection of compositions - all arrangements for six horns - demontrates the usefulness and versatility of the French horn in various musical genres.
Zdeněk Tylšar (born 1945) belongs without the slightest exaggeration among the top French horn players in the world. He began studying the instrument at the age of twelve, and his development was so rapid that after only two years he was accepted into the class of Professor Šolc at the Brno Conservatory. As a seventeen-year old he was already a member of the orchestra of the Janáček Opera at the State Theatre in Brno, and when nineteen, immediately after graduating from the conservatory, he became a member of the Czech Philharmonic. He crowned his musical education at the Janáček Academy in Brno, again with Professor Šolc. Since 1967 he has been first hornist and solo hornist with the Czech Philharmonic, where audiences and critics alike admire his work. Since 1977 he has taught at Prague's Academy of the Performing Arts, with remarkable results.
Jindřich Kolář (born 1959) finished his studies of the French Horn playing in l984 with Zdeněk Tylšar, the famous horn player and the most important representative of the Czech French Horn School. From l987 Jindřich Kolář was engaged as the first hornist at the National Theatre Opera Orchestra, since 1999 he is a member of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. He cooperates with the chamber orchestra Solistes Européens of Luxemburg on concerts and recordings. He has recorded several horn solo pieces at the Czech Radio and participated as a soloist at the CD recording with the title >Brilliant Compositions for Horn and Strings<, RKM 004. He appears as a solo player with symphony orchestras and with the Czech Philharmony Chamber Orchestra. In 1999, he performed as a soloist in Japan.
Petr Hernych (born 1963) studied French horn playing in 1978-84 at the Pardubice Conservatory with Professor Tvrdý. He continued his studies at the musical college of Prague's Academy of the Performing Arts in the class of Professor Zdeněk Tylšar. He finished his education in 1988 with a graduation concert in collaboration with the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, where since 1984 he has served as first hornist. As a winner in the international performace competition of the Prague Spring Festival in 1987, he was awarded the Czech Music Fund prize. Hernych engages in chamber music on a regular basis (especially the wind quintet Musica per Cinque, with whom he has recorded two CDs), and as a soloist appears on concert podiums both at home and abroad.
Petr Koltán (1971) is a gifted young artist who currently holds the position of third hornist with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra. He graduated from the Prague Conservatory in the class of Professor ?o?ek, and presently is completing his studies at the musical college in the Academy of the Performing Arts with Professor Zdeněk Tylšar. He gained orchestral experience already in 1989-93 with the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK and the orchestra of the National Theatre.
Bedřich Tylšar (born 1939) studied French horn playing first at the Kroměříž Conservatory (1953-58) and then at the Janáček Academy of the Performing Arts in Brno with Professor Šolc. After years of playing in top symphony orchestras at home and abroad, since 1972 he has held the position of fourth hornist in the Czech Philharmonic. He also teaches at the Prague Conservatory and simultaneously at the musical college of Prague's Academy of the Performing Arts. With his brother Zdeněk Tylšar he has recorded for various companies practically all the basic works of Czech and worldwide literature for two French horns.
Radek Baborák (1976), despite his
youth, is an experienced soloist and a prize-winner in international
competitions. He began playing the French horn at the age of eight with
Professor Křenek, and early on was a winner in the national competition of the
People's Arts Schools. Next came Second Prize in the international competition
Concertino Praga (1986), victory in the performance competition in Kraslice
(1989) and in the same year First Prize in, again, the Concertino Praga. Under
the guidance of Professor Bedřich Tylšar he multiplied his successes in the
most important international competitions: Third Prize in 1993 at the Prague
Spring Festival (First Prize was not awarded), Second Prize in the same year in
Geneva (First Prize again not awarded), Frist Prize a year later in
Markneukirchen, nad finally in 1995 victory in the prestigious ARD competition
in Munich. He is a member of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and of the
chamber ensemble Afflatus Quintet.
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