BEYOND MOZART, BEETHOVEN, AND STRAUSS: INNOVATIONS IN THE MODERN HORN SOLO REPERTOIRE EXEMPLIFIED BY THE WORKS OF AMERICAN COMPOSER DANA WILSON
University of West Georgia (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The horn is one of the oldest brass instruments, and with origins dating back to the 17th century, it has always been an instrument steeped in the traditions of Western music. The horn has been a vehicle of musical expression for many renowned composers including J.S. Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Richard Strauss, and Gustav Mahler, among others. As we embark on the 21st century, the horn continues to be a favored solo instrument, but its distinctive mellow voice is beginning to sing with a transformed tone.
Horn players are always looking for new high quality repertoire that is challenging, musically fulfilling, and accessible to the audience. Often these ideals are realized through works that are “higher, faster, and louder” than what has been performed in the past. This trend is changing, however, thanks to modern composers who write conceptual pieces that focus on the use of the different timbres the horn can create. Now more than ever composers from around the world are beginning to utilize all the capabilities of the instrument including new extended techniques, mute effects, an expansion of the low range, and a divergence from characteristic horn melodies.
American composer Dana Wilson (b.1946) writes truly unique horn music that explores previously ignored timbres of the horn. With a recognized talent for composing in many genres, Wilson incorporates his background as a jazz pianist with his interest in non-Western tonalities and rhythms to create a distinct horn sound unlike any other composer. His works are challenging to perform, but deeply satisfying for both the horn player and the audience. Wilson’s pieces continue to garner accolades and his works are frequent additions to the horn solo recital literature for amateurs, students, and professionals alike.
This presentation discusses the unique compositional style of Dana Wilson, specifically his use of extended techniques, jazz vocabulary, African rhythms, and exotic scales. Wilson’s pieces can be seen as the harbinger of a new trend in the modern horn repertoire, where the production of multiple timbres becomes the norm.
Keywords: Music, horn, compositions, composers, solo repertoire, new music.