Berliner Philharmoniker Master Class – Horn

Willis and I’m standing on the stage of the big hall in
the Philharmonie in Berlin. And I’ve been asked to do a
mini, mini master class for the horn players who are applying
to be part of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. It’s got to be a mini, mini
master class I’m afraid, but I’m hoping that some of the
things I can say might be of some help while preparing
for the audition. The excerpt I chose is the
fourth horn solo from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
because it looks on paper maybe to be the most uninteresting
of all the solos. But it in addition, it’s quite
hard to play because you stand on stage or you’re sitting at
home in your living room and you have to convince the
audience or the jury that it’s not just a bunch of long notes
but that you hear that there are woodwinds playing with you,
and you make some sort of music out of this long, long passage. Standing here I just remembered
the last time I stood on this stage and played this excerpt
was in my own audition for this orchestra. So yeah, it’s bringing
back a lot of memories. So let’s start. You all have the music. I have the music
in front of me. And I was thinking about a
tempo, there are all sorts of different tempos for this
piece– it says adagio, I thought maybe the average tempo
taken from the few conductors that I’ve played it with would
be about quarter note equals 52. So that might be some sort
of a basis for you to practice with a metronome. The other thing is to make
sure you know the score and now what’s going on. This whole pot is a dialogue
between the two clarinets, the bassoon, and the horn. The horn is sometimes in
accompaniment, the horn is sometimes a solo instrument,
and you need to show that you know that in the audition part. So with a dry mouth, having
spoken to much, I’ll try and play a bit of it for you. [horn being played] Here comes the bar
you’re all waiting for. This next bar I have a little
tip that has always helped me, maybe it will help you. To play the low notes– they
have to sound just as easy as all the other notes and for a
lot of us they’re quite a struggle. My tip would be to open up
the hand for the low notes, otherwise they sound
a little bit muffled. Like this– [horn being played] Also the F have to be sharp
enough, it’s often very flat. So the more you open up the
hand, the sharper it’ll get. After the F there comes the
jump up to the F above and the C sharp. A good conductor should wait
for you to get up there, but he won’t wait all day. So in the audition you need
to take a tiny bit of time, but still get up there. So– [horn being played] That whole passage as you
know is mainly horn solo. You have the clarinets and a
flute comes and weaves around, but that whole passage can
be played out a little bit more and the crescendos,
diminuendos very expressive. Then you have the long F to
hold before the biggest solo of the excerpt. This long F is time to
just sort of gather your thoughts, stop your
beating heart, whatever. But still, keep the triplets
of the violins going while you hold out this note. They’re going dah, dah, dah,
dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. It helps. I just find it helps to
keep the concentration. And then comes the one
bar that says solo. It’s maybe the biggest
fourth horn solo in the whole repertoire. And you can do this
how you want. Some people play it with
a little slur in it. Some people play it tongued. Some people do a huge
ritardando, rubato, however you feel. But whatever it is it’s
got to be convincing. How I like to play
it is like this: [horn being played] The last two bars obviously
aren’t solo anymore, but the crescendo is there and you’ll
impress a jury if you show them you know that’s leading
in to the next passage. OK, now for something
completely different, and even though I’m a low horn player,
and maybe I shouldn’t be giving tips about Till Eulenspiegel. I sit next to a lot
of solo horns who’ve played this in my time. And maybe a couple of tips, you
of course, can hear this solo on thousands of recordings and
there are different ways to play it. A couple of tips for me would
be to really make sure that you do what Strauss wanted. For example, the beginning
of Till Eulenspiegel it says gemachlich. That means leisurely in English
or sort of taking your time. And what Strauss meant was Till
Eulenspiegel was a really– he was a real scoundrel. He was a very naughty guy and
he caused a lot of trouble. And this was his first
appearance in the piece. When this theme appears
it’s always representing Till Eulenspiegel. This is his first appearance
and he’s not quite sure– he’s sort of sticking his head out
and seeing if the coast is clear. It would be nice to play it a
little bit like that because when it comes to the second
time he’s more self assured and he’s showing what he can do. So really take it seriously
what Strauss says and play the beginning a little bit
leisurely, a little bit sort of looking out to see if
the coast is clear. And gradually, getting more
lively and getting more confidence as it goes on. I’m going to try and
play it even though I’m a low horn player. When else do I have the
opportunity to play this? [horn being played] A tip would be, also like I
said in the Beethoven Ninth for the last two notes– the G and
the C– is to open the hand a little bit more because it just
makes the low notes a lot clearer and just be
careful they’re not too sharp of course. But it really does help
in the low range to play a bit more open. So that was Till. Those were my ideas for Till
and I wish you all the best, and looking forward to hearing
all the different versions.

100 thoughts on “Berliner Philharmoniker Master Class – Horn”

  1. am I the only person who loves just looking at the horn itself?  shimmering and golden and shiny…  so beautiful lol

  2. Does anyone have the sheet music for the first piece for Horn in F? I can only find copies in Eb Horn. 

  3. I kind of wish that there was a video of her just playing the piece and no talking. She plays it beautifully.

  4. I play the french horn. It is a single one. I started a couple of weeks ago and I'm doing great. Do you have any advice for me to join a sympathy orgistra?😃

  5. Just wondering, is anybody allowed to just walk on stage and say they want to audition for the Berlin Phil, or are there long processes in order to get to that point in which you're performing for them?

  6. You know, I listened to both Clevenger and Myers play this piece before this has to be my favorite recording though, because most horns can get that low but they cannot get it solid as Sarah, She is a Low Horn player so she can go circles around a lot of 1st horns. I loved this version thank you, Absolutely perfect

  7. I'd like to share it with +Kezia Widayat. Thank you Mrs.+Sarah Willis & +Berliner Philharmoniker.
    And i guess her teacher is right, that Horn is so superb, awesome.

  8. I wish I could hit a pedal C. The lowest I can play is a E, D on a rare occasion. Never had a problem with that amazing F 😍

  9. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah and her colleagues at IHS47 where a work of mine was premiered. As a composer, I found this video most helpful. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. I need some help with "transposing instruments". I've found a horn part of Beethoven's 9th written "B basso". The passage Ms Willis played starts in this part with the note G and it is written in C major (at least just until the lowest note). If I read it like a B flat clarinet player, wouldn't the fisrt note be F? How come the horn sounds in this passage still a fifth below (B flat)? Thanks for any help with this…

  11. What a beautiful sound you make Sarah on the lower register, which, as we brass players know, is where the skill is. An excellent technique and a great presenter. Brava!

  12. Dear Ms Willis, my 11 y/o daughter is a fan. Do you offer a fan club? Do you have a preferred method for these little ones to connect?  Best Regards. Joseph G. Izaguirre for Ellie Izaguirre

  13. French translation error. At 3:23, should be : "Aussi, le fa doit être joué un peu haut, mais il est souvent joué très bas. Alors, plus vous ouvrez la main, plus il sera haut.""

  14. 演奏シーン(自分用)
    2:21 2:21 2:21 2:21
    2:21 2:21 2:21 2:21
    2:21 2:21 2:21 2:21

    3:13 3:13 3:13 3:13
    3:13 3:13 3:13 3:13
    3:13 3:13 3:13 3:13

    3:48 3:48 3:48 3:48
    3:48 3:48 3:48 3:48
    3:48 3:48 3:48 3:48

    5:25 5:25 5:25 5:25
    5:25 5:25 5:25 5:25
    5:25 5:25 5:25 5:25

    7:23 7:23 7:23 7:23
    7:23 7:23 7:23 7:23
    7:23 7:23 7:23 7:23

  15. You have to wonder about the complexity of the human process to create such a pure and beautiful sound commanded by an incredible composer.

  16. Mozart Horn Concerto's is where players of this calibre can really shine. These segments are informative and pleasant.

  17. As an art major, I am very grateful for the presence of Korean subtitles in the Berliner Philharmoniker's Master Class video😊😊

  18. I wish I had been able to play the horn like that when I was in college. That horn is beautiful, but my 5 valve horn was beautiful right after it had been refinished back then, my orchestra director always loved to show off my 5 valve horn when they got together, its pretty rare, I've never seen another 5 valve French Horn.

  19. What a honey Sarah is! Wit, charm, sophistication, beauty. And a terrific musician. In case you didn't realize it, Sarah, I'm proposing.

  20. Ахиреть не встать. То чувство когда ты понимаешь что как музыкант ты овощь.

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