Letter: After the hunt Bill

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WHATEVER we may think of fox and deer hunting, Mozart and Beethoven and the musical world owe the pursuit of animals on horseback an incalculable debt. Without mounted huntsmen the helical horn (cor de chasse) would not have evolved.

The helical horn was slung in double-coil, from left shoulder to right side. The huntsman's girth determined the length (and therefore, pitch). Longest was 14ft (in D) and lesser hoops 13ft and 12ft (in Eflat and F). The multiple harmonies of these long tubes encouraged duet playing; the forests rang - and composers listened. The 18th century found experiments with a tunnelled mouthpiece and hand-in-bell-technique transforming the open-air stridency of the cor de chasse into the French Horn of drawing- room delight.

Mozart recognised the potential and wrote horn parts into all of his orchestral works . Beethoven followed, deeply involving horns in all his symphonies.

We might ask what has become of the relatively musical cor-de-chasse? Today's obviously unmusical huntsmen seem content with their short two- note easy-to-play screech thing. Grounds for banning?