Ben Goldscheider
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This year you are presenting a very intense series of International Concerts, featuring, among others, works for Horn by J. Haydn, W.A. Mozart, L. van Beethoven and C.M. von Weber, a relative of Mozart and of his wife Constanze and friend of Beethoven. You have just performed Mozart's Concerto No. 4, then J. Haydn's Horn Concerto No. 1 at Philharmonie Berlin and you will perform Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4 next October-November and then Haydn again... Can you tell us about Mozart's writing for Horn and that of J. Haydn seen in comparison? And what about the evolution of the treatment of Horn Solo part from Haydn and Mozart to Beethoven and Weber?
Something that is essential to understand the horn writing of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Weber, is to first understand what kind of horn they were writing for.

Unlike the instrument that everyone will be familiar with today, the above mentioned composers were working with what we now call the natural horn; a horn without valves. This meant that the instrument could only play in one key at a time (something that was quite literally determined by the length of tubing that was attached to the horn) and furthermore, only play the tones of the harmonic series.

The harmonic series is a set of pitches that lie in nature, they are the natural vibrating tones of a specific length of any piece of tubing. This means this series is available on any hosepipe, scaffolding tube or toilet roll if vibrated correctly. Obviously, this posed problems for the instrument as it was not possible to play a chromatic scale and so some of the leading horn players of the day started to change the position of their hand inside the bell in order to quite literally change the length of the tube and thus be able to produce the notes that lay in between these pitches of the harmonic series. As you will see from the diagram below, the natural pitches of the harmonic series get closer together as they get higher and thus most of the melodic lines that Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven wrote tend to fall around the middle of the staff and upwards, mainly due to the availability of pitches. So, when looking at the horn writing of these magnificent composers, one also sees a remarkable knowledge and sensitivity to the physical obstacles the players face in regards to the manner in which they write.

The musical intentions of the composers can be seen very clearly when practised in this natural way as the stresses and directions of the phrases are clearly defined by the change in timbre that results from this hand stopping technique.

Between the different composers, you also see a lot of difference in the style they employ the horn. For example, Mozart and Weber make a lot of use of chromatic movement in the form of fast scalic passages whereas Haydn and Beethoven make much more use of the open series, writing many passages of broken chords and arpeggios. 

Ben Goldscheider's Videos:

Ben Goldscheider in Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4
Goldscheider plays Mozart's Horn Concerto

Ben Goldscheider in Mozart Horn Quintet
Goldscheider plays Mozart's Horn Quintet  

Ben Goldscheider in J.S.Bach, Nun Komm' der Heiden Heiland

On 2 February 2018 you have released your critically acclaimed Debut Recording with works for French Horn and Piano. Among the composers you have chosen, there are Schumann and von Krufft, the latter being considered, by a few scholars, as a forerunner of Schubert in chamber music. von Krufft was, in particular, a pupil, in composition, of Albrechtsberger (friend of J. and M. Haydn and of Mozart and composition teacher of Hummel, Beethoven and Reicha). What led you to choose the pieces for you CD Debut? You have in your repertoire also the octet by Schubert: what the difference between Schubert and Schumann?
For me, it was very important to choose a wide range of pieces that represented the whole development of the horn from this natural horn I spoke about previously to the modern horn of today.

In particular, I wanted to convey how as the instrument developed physically/mechanically, the music written for it developed too.

With the pieces I chose for the disc, we begin in the 21st Century with Jörg Widmann's Air for Solo Horn, a piece written in 2005. This piece, to me, is especially interesting as it plays with the idea of the texture an instrumentalist can create. Normally, a solo instrument has the possibility to play monophonically by itself, homophonically and polyphonically with other instruments. With Widmann's piece, the soloist plays the entire piece into the open lid of a grand piano having previously secured the sustaining pedal down with a pair of scissors. The result is that the horn player is alone but is able to sustain harmonies on the vibrating strings inside the piano lid.

Next is the Krufft Sonata which is a piece of salon music and is somewhat representative of a the vocal and virtuosic qualities of the natural horn. Whilst there is a lot of chromatic movement in this piece (especially if one compares it with the more famous Beethoven Horn Sonata), it is fairly obvious that the melodic and harmonic writing are simplified to an extent in order to accommodate the difficulties of the natural horn. As was also common at the time, there is little use of the lower register of the horn as here, the harmonic series are much further away from one another and thus writing anything of melodic interest is quite difficult.

Then there is a move to Schumann's famous Adagio and Allegro, a piece that is considered to be the first major work written for the valved horn. It is very clear in Schumann's writing that he wanted to explore these new possibilities with the instrument and the result is an extremely virtuosic work that unsurprisingly, has been taken and performed on the cello and violin amongst other instruments. I feel that this piece really encapsulates Schumann's personality with it providing a lot of extreme contrasts in both harmony, tempi and register; especially in the Allegro Section. When comparing the style of Schumann and Schubert, I think the main difference is that of pushing the music of the time to extremes. If I talk specifically about the chamber music of Schumann and Schubert that includes the horn, Schubert is far more classical if you like with regard to his treatment of form and harmony in comparison with Schumann. There is a constant underlying feeling of restlessness in Schumann's Adagio and Allegro, with an extremely fiery spirit that I think is not so typical of Schubert. Saying that, I also find a lot of similarities in both composer's music. They both write incredibly intimately and personally, with perhaps the difference being that Schubert plays more by the rules and Schumann was more willing to lay his soul out on the page.

After Schumann, there is the York Bowen Horn Sonata and Volker David Kirchner's Tre Poemi for Horn and Piano. These pieces, written just over forty years apart (1937 and 1980 respectively), show how music changed dramatically in the 20th Century. York Bowen was dubbed the English Rachmaninov and this can be seen through his treatment of incredibly dense and romantic harmony, long melodic lines and arguably a direct quotation from Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto in the second movement of the Horn Sonata. Kirchner's Tre Poemi is another piece that uses the technique of the horn playing into the piano, albeit in a more extreme and aggressive way. These three short movements really explore the horn's expressive qualities in a modern manner, with the third movement akin to a foggy morning in the mountains.

Lastly, there is Esa-Pekka Salonen's Concert Etude for solo horn. This is one of my favourite pieces for horn that people during the BBC Young Musician Competition seemed particularly drawn towards. With Salonen being a horn player himself, there is a strong sense of practical knowledge behind the writing that makes it so idiomatic. He fully explores all the extended techniques of the modern horn to their very extremes and still manages to maintain a beautiful homage to his late horn teacher.
You are a student of the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin and of the Royal College of Music and you have followed studies in music also with other important Schools and International Academies. Now how do you see this long path of studies and how do you think it enriched you and your life, as an artist? What are your pieces of advice and tips to those young musicians, who start playing the French Horn both as soloists and as members of an orchestra? 
Without drawing too much on a cliché, I really think that studying and learning is the best possible thing people can do!

Specifically, at the Barenboim-Said Academy, we study music in a very broad sense.

Alongside our musical classes in Theory, Ear Training and Music History, we study the humanities. These, over a four-year period include; Philosophy, Literature, History, History of Art and Global Issues.

What I think this succeeds in doing is giving musicians a context to what they are doing and also teaches us how to think on a deeper level (at least from what I was used to before having had this education) and thus be able to approach music, over time perhaps, in a deeper way.

For example, if we are studying Beethoven in our Music History Classes, the rest of our classes will support this. So, in our Theory and Ear Training classes, we will look at examples of Beethoven's works, analyse them and perform ear training exercises based on his style. In our Philosophy classes, we will be studying the work of Hegel and seeing how Beethoven's tremendous musical innovation was in part influenced by the incredible innovation occurring in German philosophy at that time. In a history class, we might study the French Revolution and see how the attitudes since 1789 appealed to his imagination and frustration. At the end of all this, you have a much clearer picture of the life and times of the great composers that we try and make a living from performing.

My advice for other young musicians is that this type of knowledge and understanding is an incredibly interesting aspect to musical education that is somewhat neglected. Personally, I feel it enriches not only your musical but intellectual life and simply gives you another dimension to your studies.

On a more practical note towards younger horn players, PRACTISE.

I don't believe anybody has made a successful career in music without, at some point in their lives, going through a very intense period of studying and experimenting with their instruments. Finally, and something that is often looked over (specifically by myself) is to enjoy what you are doing and know that in essence, you have to make beautiful music. 
You are the Winner of the BBC Young Musician Brass Category 2016 and this Summer 2018 you'll make also your BBC Proms debut on 15 July and then on 14 August. What are your memories and considerations about your experience at the BBC Young Musician 2016? And what your expectations about your BBC Proms debut, in particular, since you'll play horn in a very peculiar repertoire from Tchaikovsky to Scriabin to modern contemporary composers: your approach to the horn will be so different from that used for Mozart, Haydn and the Classical and Romantic repertoire?
For me, BBC Young Musician was one of the most exciting chapters of my life. The competition itself is part and parcel of being a young musician in the UK and so during the entire process (which takes 9 months), I just felt incredibly lucky to be part of it. I learnt an extraordinary amount about myself and was able to gain invaluable experience of playing under rather huge pressure at a rather young age. It meant so much to me that still, two years on, I can remember exactly what I was wearing, what I ate and the conversations I had on the days of each round leading up from the very first regional audition to the Grand Final. The exposure and platform it gave have been the groundwork for my career and I am incredibly grateful for everything the competition has done, and is still doing for me.

This summer, I will make my debut as a soloist at the BBC Proms, commissioning a new work by David Bruce for four solo instruments and orchestra. Often, I am asked what my dream concert would be and I have to say, the answer was always that; to commission a new piece at the BBC Proms. To be doing this at 20 years old is quite overwhelming and I am so grateful to the team at the BBC for giving me this opportunity. There are really no words to describe how much I'm looking forward to it!

Then, later on in August, I will play with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim at the Proms. This concert falls right into the middle of our summer tour and I am really looking forward to taking a bit of my life in Germany and sharing this with the wonderful audience at the Proms.

The approach to all these different programmes and scenarios does change slightly the way in which I approach the horn but not as much as you would think. Playing as a soloist for a classical or early romantic work requires an incredibly flexible, free and open condition of the lips whereas to play a Bruckner symphony in the orchestra requires a more physically strong and durable structure.

Because of the variety that a musician these days encounter, I try as much as possible to make sure that these styles are at my disposal on a daily basis and thus I have come up with a daily work-out which covers everything I might need to play!
Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.
As every musician will tell you, this is an extremely difficult question to answer!

They will also tell you that this answer probably changes on a day to day basis and so as I'm writing this,... my favourite piece by Mozart is his 40th Symphony in G minor.

I think it's just an incredibly beautiful piece of music that encompasses so many emotions and yet somehow manages to remain fundamentally neutral.
If you listen to this piece when you're in a good mood, you will describe it as an uplifting, happy piece.

Conversely, if you listen to this piece when you are sad, you will say that is a piece full of sorrow and pain.

This neutrality of music and how we react as a listener and interpret as a performer to it is something I am very interested in and I think this symphony is a good example of how to study this.


With Haydn, however, I am much more loyal to my own instrument and will say that his first Horn concerto in D major is my favourite piece. Especially the slow movement!

It has a fantastic energy that I think is quite rare to most horn music and I have such fun playing it.
Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you'd like to see re-evaluated?
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach!

Although biologically impossible, I think if his father hadn't been around he would be held in a significantly higher regard in the history of music and performed MUCH more!

His music is extremely interesting and, in places, so quirky that you really cannot believe he is writing pre-Mozart/Beethoven.

In my opinion, his music foresaw the Sturm und Drang (Storm and drive/stress) movement that developed towards the end of his life in the 1760's.

Often so turbulent and expressive, he really epitomises the transition between the Baroque and Classical period by experimenting heavily with the idea of newness in his music.
Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you'd like to see performed in concert with more frequency.
The Sextet for two Horns and String Quartet, Op. 81b by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Written in 1795, this is a fantastic piece for two horns and string quartet that I have never played or heard in a concert so it definitely gets my vote.

Much like the Mozart Horn Quintet for Horn and strings, this piece is almost concerto like in terms of its treatment of the two solo horns and is a wonderful gem of a piece that should certainly be in the repertoire of more horn players.

The first movement is rather strong in its character and somewhat reminiscent of Beethoven's relentless energy we see in the symphonies yet somehow stays rather sad and sombre at the same time.

The second movement is a slow lullaby with one of my favourite moments of dissonance in the whole of music!

The last movement is similar to the first, albeit takes on more of a hunting and heroic style than a sombre one.  
Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?
Unfortunately I haven't come across a book that has given me significant insight to be able to write about it at length, although I can highly recommend visiting Vienna and seeing where the First Viennese school worked and lived as this somehow gives you an insight to the character of their personalities and lives.
Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.
I guess that answer about books stands also for the movies...  
Do you think there's a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?
I think Leipzig is a fascinating place to visit in terms of music!

It has a quite remarkable crop of composers that stretches more into the 19th Century but Bach, Richard Wagner, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck all lived there for a period of time and one can also see the strong influence of Edward Grieg and Franz Liszt, two musicians who spent a lot of time there in their careers.

There is also the wonderful Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra which was founded in 1743!

I personally cannot think of another city which can boast such a rich heritage and it is a city that is rightly rather proud of this!

In a day, one can visit the St Thomas Church where Bach was working, visit the homes of Grieg and Mendelssohn and learn about all the composers lives at the museum.

With Bach arguably setting the precedent in terms of music composition, one could quite easily say that Leipzig was crucial in nurturing important aspects of a long lasting musical tradition.
Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!
Thank you!