Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The French Horn

The discovery of song and the creation of musical instruments both owed their origin to a human impulse which lies much deeper than conscious intention: the need for rhythm in life… the need is a deep one, transcending thought, and disregarded at our peril. ~Richard Baker

It had been a while since since we had seen Grandad so we took the scenic route to visit him at his house. I am certain there was some enticement by a comment conveyed to us through my Generous Gentleman: "Apparently he has something for us all, he won't say what it is, but he wants us all to visit." I too had been gently nudged by the remark, "it's been a while since you've visited me", last time he phoned. It's true, time had flown. It's been winter and hanging out at Grandad's is best done outside which is not so enjoyable during winter, as you might imagine.

We collected oranges from the orange tree, lemons from the lemon tree, observed his Gouldian Finches and had fun exploring sticks and twigs, gumnuts and goldfish. All the delights of a grandparent's home.

At some stage during our visit, a French Horn appeared. I was very bewildered as I know Grandad, my father-in-law, as a guitar/banjo cum harmonica player. Never had I imagined that he might own a French Horn. 'Twas a pity as it would have been useful last semester when my Kindermusik for the Young Child class and I were exploring brass instruments. The thought crossed my mind to ask whether I could borrow it for a week, yet not knowing the origins of this horn and how precious it might be, I left my thoughts awhile.

Grandad decided that we simply had to listen to Beethoven's Romanzen via LP, yes an old record, on his brand new record player, with wonderful surround sound speakers. So we all sat and enjoyed this marvellous work sounding very rich and full and with those lovely old scratchy sounds a record makes.

Upon our departure I noticed that the French Horn was coming with us. All of a sudden I made the connection between the horn and the comments about us needing to visit him, and his having something we all needed to be there to receive. I am not sure why the giving was very understated, yet there are some things we just don't understand about our fathers-in-law and some things we just don't ask ;) Especially after I asked where it came from, to which I received the reply "Nanna's dead boyfriend's brother!" Goodness only knows!

So now we are in possession of a very old French Horn. I would love to know exactly how old it is. It certainly needs a polish. However that has not taken the shine off the enthusiasm of my precious Ess who enjoys playing it as often as she can. Each evening she enjoys playing Lucy Locket and Bell Horses and other wondrous explorations on her glockenspiel for Daddy. Now we endure, rather enjoy, the dulcet tones of French Horn playing. Perhaps this little video tutorial will come in handy for her at some stage. Do let me know if you have any wonderful French Horn resources at the tip of your tongue. Come on, I know you all do! ;) I'd personally love to be able to understand all the meaning lying behind the symbols of the trademark. I'd love to be able to play a tune or two, but with all those overtones, it is very challenging.

Meanwhile in order to nurture my children's creativity, I can see I am about to develop a passion for the French Horn.


David said...

The "Nanna's dead boyfriend's brother" line made me laugh


Diane said...

Through my very methodical and exact research (no, not really!) I'm thinking it could be 1916. I base that on p.21 of the pdf found here: but as to how right I am, well that's anyone's guess! I'm just going by the serial numbers. It LOOKS like it could be that old.

Enjoy it, regardless. That's an awesome gift, and a beautiful looking instrument.

(By the way, I haven't forgotten about doing your banner head - sorry!)

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