Mahler: A Horn Player’s Favorite

Mahler: A Horn Player’s Favorite

Guest post by Michael Bellofatto, Principal Horn, Orchestra of Indian Hill

You would be hard-pressed to find a horn player who doesn’t have a special affection for Mahler’s music. Even before you get a picture of the symphony as a whole, the parts themselves immediately jump out at you. Mahler’s writing can be challenging for the horn from a standpoint of technique and endurance, but is also very idiomatic and musically satisfying to play. Horn players are usually happy to have their playing abilities taken to their limits as long as the music is written in a way that understands and respects the instrument, and Mahler is a great example of how to do this well.

He takes advantage of the entire range of the horn, both in terms of pitch and character. In the same symphony, the horn might be playing a sombre dirge in the range of the tuba, a tender melodic solo, a sparkling fanfare, or soaring descant. Mahler also wrote for expanded horn sections in most of his symphonies, dwarfing the other brass sections.

In the triumphant finale of the First Symphony, he uses his battery of seven horns to great dramatic effect by having them rise from their chairs to deliver the final motif in ringing bell tones. Apart from bringing the sound of the horn to the forefront, it’s a visual one doesn’t often see in a symphonic concert. Plus, it saves us the trouble of having to get up later for the orchestra bows.

See Michael Bellofatto and Orchestra of Indian Hill perform Mahler’s First on Saturday, January 26!

Orchestra of Indian Hill
Bruce Hangen | Artistic Director & Conductor

Mahler | Sibelius
Saturday, January 26 | 7:30pm | Buy Tickets

Know the Score: Pre-concert talk with Bruce at 6:30pm
Encore Café: Post-concert coffee & dessert with Q&A

Littleton High School Performing Arts Center
56 King Street, Littleton, MA
(978) 486-9524

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