Since one of my proficiency pieces is the first movement of Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 2, I have been doing a good amount of listening to our friend Mozart. His concertos were written for his friend and virtuosic horn player, Ignaz Leutgeb, from Salzburg. If you ever get to purchase some horn music, be sure to get the edition that includes the remarks to his friend in a few of his movements (Schirmer prints it I believe). They make the music much more amusing when you reading insults like “Try this you ugly pig” (or something to that effect) next to a challenging run. Suddenly the piece becomes quite a bit more amusing. On the first page of the movement of the concerto that I am playing for proficiencies, Mozart wrote “Leitgeb Esel” (or “Silly ass Leitgeb”). You can hear his sense of humor throughout the piece both in the horn part and throughout the orchestra.
The first movements of the concertos are in sonata form. The piece that I am playing for proficiencies follows this trend. These movements can generally be characterized by their virtuosity in the horn part. The second movements are usually marked Andante or Romance and are slower and show off the sound of the horn through long lyric phrases. The last movements are almost always in 6/8 and rondo form. These pieces seem to bring us back to the origins of horn music, emulating the horn calls. The simplicity with which Mozart wrote was perfect for the horn and its sound. These pieces have become forever a part of the horn player’s repertoire.
No discussion of the Mozart horn concertos would be complete without Shua’s response every time he hears one of Mozart’s concertos in Eb (or in any key for that matter). Shua hypothesizes that Mozart was too lazy to change the key of the concertos (this should have been very easy since everything was natural horn then) and so obviously the correct response is “Mozart, you lazy bastard.” Thank you Shua for your timely addition to my blog.