History of the French Horn
The modern orchestral brass French horn was an invention based on early hunting horns. Horns were first used as musical instruments during 16th century operas. During the 17th century, modifications to the bell end (larger and flared bells) of the horn were made and the cor de chasse, or French horn as the English called it was born.The horn has its origin in the pre-historic days, along with the trumpet that is considered anthropologically older. Men have blown through the horns of dead animals, especially that of the domesticated buffalo/cow to produce sounds that can echo for miles around. Hence the name.
This was originally used as a communicator while hunting. The curved shape of the horn was developed further down the line in wood and then in metal, a bell added at the end to give it the megaphone effect, like the trumpet, till the immediate predecessor of the modern French horn came into being around the 15th Century.
The French horn was christened thus in England. But strangely enough, the Frenchmen called it the German horn and the Germans called it the hunting horn. But the English name finally stuck. The predecessor of the French horn is one you might see in a movie featuring bloodhounds and hunters on horses. The Frenchmen used it extensively in the 16th Century. In the mid-17th Century, composers such as Pietro Cavalli and Jean-Baptiste Lully used these in operas. Handel in Water Music and Bach in Mass in B Minor and Brandenburg Concerto No.1 also used these hunting horns in the 18th Century, which was what they were known as then.
Then there were improvisations. The crooks were invented and added. Crooks are pieces of different-sized, coiled tubing that are attached to the lead pipe of the horn. They alter the pitch to a desired key. These were the horns that were used extensively by classical musicians such as Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The more sophisticated, rounder, and mellower sound of this horn...
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