I went with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, to Budapest to play a New Year’s Day concert of Haydn’s Creation.
My horn went ahead of me in the orchestra’s truck, in a nice big padded crate, along with the basses, timps etc. When I got my horn out for the rehearsal – this was New Year’s Eve – I found that the linkage to the 2nd valve had broken.
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It was pretty obvious to me that it couldn’t be fixed and that I had to decide whether to try to find a horn to borrow or play the Creation using handstopping. I went for the handstopping option. I really hate playing other people’s horns.
In the end it went pretty well, I think, although it was quite nerve-wracking. For E horn and A horn I had to remember to turn the 2nd valve around, by hand, to the correct setting. I had to leave the 2nd valve cap off and use the notches on the top of the valve spindle to line it up. Then, crucially, I had to remember to rotate the valve back for A horn, F horn, Eb horn, D horn (third f-side valve), C horn and Bb basso horn.
Also, it felt quite weird playing an eight-valved modern instrument using classical handstopping technique. Something like rowing a speedboat…