History of the French Horn

The french horn passes as an exceptionally beautiful musical instrument. The quality and mellow of sound from this bass family’s second highest sounding musical instrument has no close rival either from marching band, brass ensemble or orchestra. Yet, despite all this, the history of the french horn remains a mystery to many. This article highlights the development of the french horn, right from the earliest form to the most present form.

Basically, the french horn is in the records as one of the oldest instrument to be in continuous use. The Hebrew shofar, its direct ancestor, is still in use 6000 years later. A close resemblance to the modern day french horn was developed from the shofar at around 1550. The instrument so developed was in form of coiled helical horns and was used for sending hunting codes, in Italy, France and Germany.

As years progressed, the hunting calls were slowly set to music, later progressed to high music order, and ultimately to orchestra plays. This saw the birth of the name ‘French Horn’. One of the most significant step in its development occurred in 1705 when it was incorporated in the Germans Orchestral Scores. In 1753, Hampel of Dresben Orchestra discovered that, the tone could be softened through incorporation of different slides to the horn’s body and through inserting his hand to the bell.

In 1815, the french horn was significantly improved by German musicians, when they came up with the valves. The crooks no longer required to be adjusted, as the springed valves changed the pitch. However, the composers were in favor of the hand horns over the valved ones. They later adopted the valved horns and the first commercially made french double F/Bb were sold out in 1899.
From 1899, the french horns have not undergone any significant advancement. Though the materials may have changed, the valves are still in use.

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