In the last bar but one there is a jump of a twelfth from treble 6 to baas C; whereas Horn players invariably fulfil the obvious intention of the composer by descending only a fifth, and thus completing the common chord.
The fact is, that the first part of the melody, written in the treble clef, is really played by the E Horn a minor sixth lower than its written symbol, and the bass part a major third higher, thus reaching E in the 8-foot octave. The passage, if literally played, as it would be by an organist, would end on the impossible and hardly musical E of the 16-foot octave. These remarks also apply to the illustrative passage quoted below from the Choral Symphony; the Scena ('Komm Hoffnung') in 'Fidelio' for 3 Horns; and a very florid obbligato to the bass song 'Deign, great Apollo,' in the 'Ruins of Athens,' scored for four horns, two in F and two in C.
In the Eroica Symphony the trio is scored for 3 Horns in E♭, playing on closed notes. In the 4th Symphony two horns in E♭ attack top C pianissimo, and slur down to 6 and below. The slow movement of the Pastoral contains a difficult passage for two horns in thirds, kept up for several bars. In the Vivace of the 7th—near the close—the low note already named (sounding E) is sustained by the second horn for no less than 22 bars without intermission.
The G here given, and which has been shown to be noted an octave too low, really appears to be an outlying harmonic, or fictitious note, not recognised in the ordinary harmonic scale, obtained by a very loose lip and sounding the fifth of the fundamental note, intermediate between that and the first harmonic. To make it a real note, the Horn should begin on 32-foot C, which is impossible for a 16-foot tube, and there ought to be a harmonic third on the second space in the bass clef, which does not exist. Many players cannot produce it at all, and few can make sure of it. The slow movement contains a melodious passage in contrary motion with the Clarinet, and in the scherzo the two move in close harmony with the Bassoons and Clarinets, the second horn commencing the trio with a solo on its low G and F♯ (sounding E and D♯, as at b), the latter a closed note; a phrase which is repeated 17 times with but slight change.
In the minuet of the 8th occurs a long and important duet for two Horns in F, accompanied by the violoncello solo, and beginning as follows:—
imitated by the clarinet, and running into a conversation between the two Horns, who repeat alternately the same notes.
In the Adagio of the 9th, or Choral Symphony, the 4th horn-solo is said to be hardly playable as written for the E♭ crook, without valves, but becomes possible by transposing on to an E♮ horn.
Even these difficulties are surpassed by a bar of fifteen notes closely following the foregoing.
Schubert's great Symphony in C (No. 9) opens with a passage of eight bars for the two horns in unison, and they are used with beautiful effect, with the accompaniment of the strings alone, in the Andante of the same work just before the return to the subject.
No other composer has surpassed or even equalled Weber in his masterly use of this instrument. He evidently loved it above all other voices in the orchestra. Besides abundant concerted music, the effective opening of the Overture to Oberon, the weird notes in that of Der Freischütz, and the lovely obbligato to the Mermaid's song, will rise into immediate remembrance. He fully appreciates its value, not only as a melodic instrument, but as a source, whether alone or blended with other qualities of tone, of strange and new æsthetical effects.
The same, in a somewhat leas marked degree, may be said of Mendelssohn, who makes comparatively less melodic use of the Horn, but very much of its combining and steadying powers. Notable exceptions are however the opening phrase of the Duet and Chorus in the Hymn of Praise, and the Notturno in the 'Midsummer Night's Dream.' When the latter was first performed in this country, the composer especially
- The difficulty of this passage is sometimes met in the orchestra by giving the two low notes (which sound E♭ and B♭ below the bass stave) to one of the other players, so that the sudden transiton of three octaves is not felt, and the low notes obtained with greater clearness.