1st Edition

Horn Teaching at the Paris Conservatoire, 1792 to 1903 The Transition from Natural Horn to Valved Horn

By Jeffrey Snedeker Copyright 2021
    278 Pages 91 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 91 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The transition from the valveless natural horn to the modern valved horn in 19th-century Paris was different from similar transitions in other countries. While valve technology was received happily by players of other members of the brass family, strong support for the natural horn, with its varied color palette and virtuoso performance traditions, slowed the reception and application of the valve to the horn.

    Using primary sources including Conservatoire method books, accounts of performances and technological advances, and other evidence, this book tells the story of the transition from natural horn to valved horn at the Conservatoire, from 1792 to 1903, including close examination of horn teaching before the arrival of valved brass in Paris, the initial reception and application of this technology to the horn, the persistence of the natural horn, and the progression of acceptance, use, controversies, and eventual adoption of the valved instrument in the Parisian community and at the Conservatoire.

    Active scholars, performers, and students interested in the horn, 19th-century brass instruments, teaching methods associated with the Conservatoire, and the intersection of technology and performing practice will find this book useful in its details and conclusions, including ramifications on historically-informed performance today.

    Chapter 1 Introduction

    Overview of the Problem

    The Structure of this Book

    Chapter 2 Early Horn Tutors in France, the Formation of the Conservatoire, and the Conservatoire’s First Horn Teachers

    Mid- to Late Eighteenth-Century Horn Tutors in France

    The Formation of the Conservatoire

    Horn Teaching at the Conservatoire 1802-1842

    Summary of Teaching Methods and the State of Horn Playing in Paris, 1830

    Backdrop for Music in Paris and at the Conservatoire in 1830

    Chapter 3 Valved Brass Instruments in Paris

    The Arrival and Application of Valve Technology in France

    Horn parts in Halévy’s La Juive

    Hector Berlioz and his Traité d’instrumentation

    A Word on Further Developments in Valve Technology in Germany

    Chapter 4 Hand and Valve: Joseph-Émile Meifred, Jacques-François Gallay and Horn Teaching at the Conservatoire 1833-1863

    Joseph-Émile Meifred

    Meifred’s Méthode

    Gallay and the Natural Horn at the Conservatoire 1833-1863

    Chapter 5 Other Valved Horn Activity in Paris: Two Valves or Three?

    Georges Kastner

    Donatien Urbin

    Other Parisian Valved Horn Methods in the 1840s

    Chapter 6 Late Nineteenth-Century Developments at the Conservatoire

    Mohr, Gallay’s Successor

    The Valved Horn in Paris in the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s

    Garigue, Chaussier, and the Panel Comparison of 1891

    François Brémond and the Final Transition to Valved Horn


    Chapter 7 Applications to Performing Practices and Hand and/or Valve Today

    The Aesthetics of Stopped Notes

    The Natural Horn, Stopped Notes, and Musicality

    The Valved Horn Conundrum

    Performing Practices for Valved Horn



    Appendix 1: Foreign Language Quotations

    Appendix 2: Writings and Compositions of Joseph-Émile Meifred


    Dr Jeffrey Snedeker has taught in the Music Department of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, since 1991. Jeff is active in several national and international organizations, serving on the Board of Directors of the Historic Brass Society, the Washington Music Educators Association Advisory Board (elected to two terms as Higher Education Curriculum Officer), and the Advisory Council of the International Horn Society. Jeff currently serves as Principal Horn with the Yakima Symphony. Jeff has published over 50 articles on a variety of musical topics in scholarly and popular journals, including seven entries in the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary.

    'The book is very well researched, very well written and will be a substantial contribution to the history of the horn. In structure and scope, this book goes deeper into the history of the horn in France in the nineteenth century than anything written previously. Highly recommended.’

    Professor Richard Seraphinoff, IU Jacobs School of Music, USA

    As a performer, teacher and scholar with a long interest in this area, Snedeker is excellently placed to tell the story of the Conservatoire’s teachers, the instruments they played, their aesthetic ideals, and the problems they faced in coming to terms with technological and musical developments, while also investigating and evaluating the reasons why it did not completely accept the valved horn until the early days of the twentieth century…I, for one, am indebted to him for providing handy translations of documents with which I have struggled in the past, and I suspect that there will be many others who will be grateful that they can now avoid this chore!... perceptive analyses… [Snedeker’s] ‘suggestions for performance’ …are as interesting as they are thorough and thoughtful, and the chapter is packed with further musical examples and translations of material which wouldn’t otherwise come easily to hand…This is a valuable book…I am sure that anyone who has a serious interest in nineteenth-century horn playing will want to return to it again and again.’

    John Humphries, The Galpin Society Journal LXXV (2022)

    ‘The level of detail and care that has gone into the preparation of this book (including research and translations) is evident and Snedeker’s loving and faithful commitment are clearly rendered. His writing flows easily, making this book an enjoyable read, not just because of its interesting and important content, but also in the way that he makes things multi-dimensional, by creating context that facilitates connections not only with the content, but with the people involved in this history… Clearly structured, organized, and presented, Snedeker has created an invaluable resource to bridge the gap between the natural and modern horn through his faithful account of over 100 years of teaching and performance practices at the Paris Conservatory from the late 1700s through the early 1900s. There are numerous benefits for all who read this book to discover, including (but not limited to) a deeper understanding of the history, a context for the performance practices and methods, as well as a greater connection with the lineage. A thorough, well-researched, and comprehensive resource for the history of the horn in France, this is a must-read.’

    The Horn Call: Journal of the International Horn Society, October 2023