Pair of horns


Not on view

This pair of horns is of a transitional design that spans the instrument’s journey from the hunt to the orchestra. Although they could have been used in an outdoor context, they are representative of the more compact form of the horn that appeared with increasing frequency in orchestras in the first decades of the 18th century. It is likely that Handel’s horn players, most of whom hailed from Germany, would have played the Water Music on instruments similar to this.

Made from brass and pitched in 16 foot ’D, this pair of horns is identical in all details of design and construction. The bell and mouthpiece receiver stays are fashioned of flat metal. The flange of the bell stay is cut in an elongated cup shape. The body tubing of the instruments is coiled 3 ½ times. The two horns are wound identically, with the mouthpiece receiver on the left-hand side of the tubing when the horns are held in playing position, thus the instruments are "right handed" (although they could be held with either hand uppermost) and are not a mirror pair. The body tubing of both horns has been partially wrapped with cloth binding that is old and possibly contemporaneous. The surface of the instruments is warmly and deeply patinated. Longitudinal burnishing marks are visible on the bells and body tubing and are consistent with contemporary fabrication techniques. The bell interiors of the horns have been blackened. This surface is well worn and several layers of paint, none of them recent, are evident. Distinct patterns of wear in the bell interior indicate that these horns were played with the hand in the bell and suggest that they might have been used to perform repertoire featuring nonharmonic notes, which would have required the use of hand horn technique. The bell edge is decorated and protected by a wide garland reinforced with wire and an under-folded edge in the manner of a Saxon rim. The garland of each horn is stamped with five double-headed imperial eagles equidistantly spaced around its circumference and with the maker’s name as follows: IOHANN GOTFRID/HALTENHOF/IN HANAU 1729

Bradley Strauchen-Scherer

Pair of  horns, Brass, German

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