Horns played by Nicolas Roudier

The horn had an incredibly rich evolution over three centuries, from the hunting field to the concert hall. With differences of size, mechanic, technique, sound aesthetic from a country to another and throughout time, the horn has many faces and playing a piece on the corresponding instrument makes a great difference in interpretation and style. Like an actor switching masks and identities when switching roles, it is such a joy to go from one horn – one soul – to another and experience the difference through music.

The photos below cannot be used or reproduced without my permission

Baroque horn by Zoltan Juhasz, 2021

Juhasz’s own design of baroque horn, playing at 415. The sound is surprisingly rich and the high register frankly amazing ! Made for the baroque masterpieces of Bach, Haendel, Telemann, etc. Ventholes are a modern invention to correct the “wrong” harmonics of the instrument, allowing to play without the hand in the bell but in tune.

Viennese natural horn by A. Kerner, 1760 – Replica by Seraphinoff, 2020

Copy of a 1760 horn made by Kerner. Clear, bright, light and agile, it is perfect for early classical music. I played and recorded the original instrument – you can hear it here

Anonymous natural horn from central Europe, c.1800 ?

This horn was previously owned by famous hornist Hermann Baumann. A beautiful exemple of bohemian horn with a large, dark, mellow sound, perfect for Beethoven, Brahms and all germanic music of the time.

Anonymous natural horn, beginning of the XIXth century ?

It is at the moment hard to tell anything about this horn that doesn’t have any crooks nor signature. It is probably not French as the tuning slide – which must be an extension – bears the mark “C”. Very small socket ; crooks are to be made.

French natural horn by Courtois Neveu Aîné, c.1810

A very old Courtois with a small bell flare, most probably 1800 or before. So thin it vibrates like a cello ! Perfect for light French music.

French natural horn by Halari, c.1820

Beautiful complete early Halari, another exemple of the French aesthetics in Paris in the early 19th century.

French natural horn (cor basse) by Kretschman, c.1830

A very interesting horn. Although the corpus is very small, the bell is absolutely gigantic. Very representative of the style of the eastern French cor basse (low horn) : large deep sound with plenty of room for the hand to enhance the difficult hand-stopping in the low range.

French horn with 3 Stoelzel pistons attributed to Chollet, c.1840 ?

This is a piece of history ! Probably one of the earliest horns with 3 pistons in France, with a green chinoiserie inside the bell. The middle piston is slightly higher than the two others to match the shape of the hand. Only two of these instruments are currently known : the other is kept in the Klingendes Museum in Bern. Stoelzel valves are very capricious and primitive and one of them is unfortunately not working – however it is usable as a 2 piston horn and it sounds truly amazing. This instrument was made to be used with hand stopping technique combined with pistons.

French natural horn (cor basse) by Piatet & Benoît, c.1840

Another Cor Basse (low horn) with a large bore, result of the collaboration between the manufacturers Piatet and Benoît in Lyon. Beautiful, free-blowing dark mellow sound.

French natural horn by Gautrot, c. 1860

A later French natural horn. The techniques in manufacture have evolved, and the sound of the instrument with it. This horn has less resistance and more flesh.

French horn with two pistons by Besson, c.1860

An instrument which allows the mix of hand-stopping technique and the use of pistons, which results in endless possibilities of expression. Besson was one of the most famous manufacturers of the second part of the century, settled in Paris as well as in London.

French natural horn by Raoux – Labbaye c.1870 with sauterelle by Brown&Sons, c.1915

The fame of the Raoux family in Paris during the late 18th and throughout the 19th century goes together with the quality of their instruments. In 1857 Raoux was bought by Labbaye, who kept selling Raoux horns with the same name and address. During the early 20th century, Brown&Sons turned these instruments into valved horns by making detachable sets (sauterelle) for them. Aubrey Brain and Franz Paersch played the exact same horn.

Bohemian crookable valved horn by Bohland&Fuchs, c.1880

Crookable valved horn by Bohland&Fuchs c1880. The business flourished in Graslitz from 1870 and was the first bohemian factory to use steam power and mass production techniques. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchester ordered 6 of these horns in the late 19th century, and they premiered Bruckner 7th Symphony as well as Brahms violin concerto around that time – so this horn may have been part of it !
Beautiful engravings, nacre on the valves, a set of slides to play on higher crooks, and a perfect player. Rich, large, deep German sound, with great nuances and quite free-blowing. The valves feature an interesting curiosity : one is supposedly able to change the weight of the mechanism just like on certain keyboards, in order to have slower or faster fingers.

Anonymous French natural horn, c.1880

An anonymous beauty with a quite narrow bell. The paint is 100% original ! This shape of corpus is very distinctive of the late 19th century, with manufacturers such as Guichard – this is very likely one of his instruments. Light and bright sound.

Vienna horn with double pistons by A. Dehmal, c.1890

A typical Vienna horn with the famous Viennese double-pistons, pumpen-valves. An incredibly rich core, astonishing legato due to the mechanism, with delicate pianos and bright powerful fortes. These instruments are still played in Vienna today !

Vienna horn with rotary valves by A. Dehmal, c.1890

Another Vienna horn from the same maker, this time with rotary valves but still the Viennese aesthetics of its time. Sounds very large and feels very free-blowing compared to its little brother.

French compensated double horn F/Bb by Selmer, model Vuillermoz, c.1935

Iconic French sound of the first part of the XXth century and featuring the special ascending third piston, this instrument is the fruit of the collaboration between Selmer and horn player Louis Vuillermoz in the 1930’s. Vuillermoz was one of the early French players to work on refining the F/Bb double horn to its best. Light, elegant and over-the-surface sound.

German horn in F with rotary valves by Kley, c.1910

The perfect German F-sound of the beginning of the 20th century. Deep, rich and very generous. Albert Kley was a student of C. F. Schmidt and flourished in Berlin.

German single B-flat horn mod.97 with stopping valve and F extension by Alexander, c.1935

This single Alexander was made before WW2 and once belonged to a president of the International Horn Society, Andrew Pelletier. A very light, bright and free-blowing sound with a fantastic high register. The best years of the famous Alexander family !

American double horn F/Bb by Holton (mod. Tuckwell H104), c.1990

Model of the American idol Barry Tuckwell, one of the greatest horn soloists to ever live. Golden brass gives this instrument a very soft coloured sound and it plays very smoothly.