Chandra writes about his and Mozart’s love affair with this instrument.
Playing the French horn for Osho
Before I came to Pune in 1988, I was a professional horn player in Europe. And of course I took a horn with me to India, even if it was an old one! Milarepa, the head of the music department, was thrilled when he saw me with the French horn, and we composed a great hunting tune for the next discourse. It was the series ‘The Invitation’, and Osho loved to dance with the music when he entered Lao Tzu Auditorium. The tune had a surprising rhythm and Osho obviously had great fun, as if being tickled by it. I was shy and nervous like hell and missed a lot of notes, proving once again that the horn is a difficult instrument to play.
A historical natural horn with roses
The instrument I played at that time was a modern French horn with valves. Soon after, I had the opportunity to buy a wonderful historical natural horn from around 1820, ornamented with gold leafing and roses in the bell. I was thrilled to play classical music on this instrument and I had the opportunity to perform with leading European orchestras which used historical instruments. This kind of horn was played in classical music orchestras until around 1850. Originating from the hunting horn, which can only play the so-called natural scale, a hand technique was developed to be able to play more notes.
Mozart’s love for the horn
Classical composers where fascinated by the wonderful sound of this instrument and it soon had an important part in classical music. Especially Mozart loved it. He used it everywhere and even composed 4 concerts for solo horn and orchestra and the quintet with the solo horn. Besides the wonderful sound, Mozart must have also loved his favorite horn player, Joseph Leitgeb. His scores are full of jokes, verbally and musically. In the quintet, the trills of the violins are like laughter on top of the most difficult horn lines! And as a dedication to the 3rd concerto, he wrote, “W. A. Mozart took pity on Leitgeb, ass, ox and fool in Vienna on 27 May 1783.”
- You can hear Chandra play a cadenza to the 3rd Mozart Concerto in More creativity in lockdown
Update 24.3.2021: Video was replaced, title and intro modified accordingly.