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.
no images were found
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…
Endlessly rehearsing “Parisina“, an obscure opera by Donizetti, has taken its toll on these poor fellows in the London Philharmonic Orchestra horn section.
Just look at them, the poor devils: from left to right it’s Martin Hobbs, Neil Shewan, Gareth Mollison and Richard Bissill.
I was lucky – I got to play in the stage band so I only had a total of two minutes of very easy music to play. The orchestral horns had scarcely a single bar off in the whole opera, and it was all very difficult and exposed.
The only one of them not showing symptoms of madness was Richard …and he’s the craziest of them all.