Mozart’s Horn Concerti and the “Hornbone”

Christian Lindberg, on “hornbone,” presents a recording of the four horn concerti by Mozart with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, conducted by Jean-Jacques Kantorow. These recordings of the four Mozart horn concerti are shams, and not very good shams. This is horn music, and not meant for a mangled trombone masquerading as a tromba di tirarsi, which slides more to trumpet, even somewhat to horn, and more likely to the ancient trombone. Readers may find of interest this fine commentary on Bach’s use of brass instruments, as well as this good overview on the tromba di tirarsi.

All of the final movements of the Mozart concerti are based on hunting calls, not on the ecclesiastical threnodies often then assigned to trombones. Further, the solo parts call into play pedal ostinati and melodic trills absolutely foreign to the trombone. In the fourth concerto, there are actually three horn parts, all crooked in E♭. One would doubt that the players wandered in with variant instruments. And in terms of the recording, in all four concerti, the orchestral playing is  weak: I was driven to think I could have hawked pale tea to the violins, and cognac to the conductor.

I had one little thrill, though. While studying these I came upon a facsimile of the autograph of the second concerto. Imagine, the true Mozart merely a hexadecimal away.

I thought, too, that the incomparable Dennis Brain would turn over in his grave if he knew of these mockeries.

Dennis Brain Tombstone


A CulturalRites article on Mozart’s clarinet concerto and the basset clarinet can be found here.

2 thoughts on “Mozart’s Horn Concerti and the “Hornbone”

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