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Your favorite French horn solos (by JW)


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I can think of two instances:

Across the Stars, near the end, when the B section of the theme is played so movingly and beautifully by a French horn.

Thoughts of Home (Munich) also near the end, that moment almost moves me to tears. So heart-rending...

Is it me, or does it seem like the French horn expresses sadness and grief better than any other instrument... ?

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That's an easy one for me:

Above all, the french horn solo at the beginning of "Princess Leia's Theme" from Star Wars (the original LSO recording, with the great David Cripps). Then, the solo in "Luke and Leia" from ROTJ.

Also, I have a soft spot for the horn solo in "Give Me Your Names" from Schindler's List. Very touching moment.

Oh, and the beginning of "Arlington" from JFK too, especially when the horn does that chilling variation on the main theme.

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Ahh, I feel comfortable in this thread.

"Thoughts of Home" definately, so velvety and smooth, love it.

"Arlington" is cool and is one of my favorite things to play when I'm just fooling around or even warming up.

"Luke and Leia" is just beautiful.

The horns at the very end of "Adventures On Earth" are prettyneat too.

What is great about the horn is that it has the ability to express any emotion absolutely wonderfully. It can be brutal, sweet, longing, festive, melancholy. And while it takes time to learn how to express all of these individual emotions perfectly, it is well worth the effort. To me it is the most beautiful instrument and is like said before, "the heart of the orchestra".

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Could it be that Jim Thatcher has the best French Horn tone in the world of film music?

What about Dave Pyatt, LSO Principal? My vote goes to him.

I second what has been said already, especially Binary Sunset. On the ROTS CD, "Anakin's Dark Deeds" from about 3:18 to the end of the track is pretty awesome. Love the use of octaves!

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Umm...anytime it's the French horn playing a solo, honestly. A favorite would be quite difficult to pick--IMO, the French horn is the most indispensable instrument in the entire orchestra. Joey225, we share more than our first names. I agree that the horn's ability to express a HUGE range of emotions is practically unrivaled.

Yeah, "Binary Sunset" is an obvious one, but for good reason. Leia's theme works wonderfully as a horn solo, though the (officially) unreleased performance from near the end of ROTS grates on me a little.

Actually, many of my favorite horn performances are not solos, and some aren't even Williams. Big, powerful unison melodies have an incredible sound. Best example of this I can think of is the six-horn "bum-bum-buummmm, bum-bum-buummmm, bum-bum-bum-bum-bummm" figure near the beginning of Holst's "Jupiter." What an extraordinary feeling! When the orchestra and choir hit that huge D minor chord in the first part of ROTS's "Lament" ("Anakin's Betrayal"), the horns shine through with an amazing melody line.

Unison passages are great, but chord-based ones have their own thrill. This one's obscure, but there's a lovely horn duet in Claude Smith's "Emperata Overture." All those velvety harmonies sound so great in the horn section, as do more sharply rhythmic passages--check out "Fighting with Grievous" (the second third of "General Grievous" on the OST) for some bizarre yet outstanding double-tonguing.

Yeah, I love horn. Wish I could play it. :mellow: I feel happy just thinking about the instrument.

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Han Solo and the Princess

Mr Thatcher must be one of best session player in the world but soundwise I prefer Dave Pyatt(LSO) and

Gus Sebring(BSO).Mr Sebring especially in Privat Ryan , whenever he touches his horn , it's stunning.

'Amongst The Clouds' solo from Always is a killer , of course.

In Across the Stars I don't remember any horn solos only magnificent unisono playing by the great horn section of LSO.

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Ah yes great topic! Among the Clouds without a doubt yes, shivers down the spine whenever I hear it!

So many to choose from but personal highlights that immediately spring to mind would be Sleepers, Star Wars' Binary Sunset (albeit the unfortunate close-miking), Balroom Scene from Wicthes, Yes Georgio's love theme and of course the majority of Saving Private Ryan.

Jim Thatcher is indeed in a league of his own, but Hugh Seenan is also at the top of his craft with David Pyatt close behind. Infact Thatcher & Seenan both performed beautifully in Horner's Deep Impact.

- Tim.

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In Across the Stars I don't remember any horn solos only magnificent unisono playing by the great horn section of LSO.

From 4:01 onwards . . . I love the horn solo there--so melancholy, heartrending--and what the strings are doing underneath. A classic JW moment!

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I love the horn (and play it)! So many great passages have already been mentioned, so I'll just throw in the opening of "Oklahoma Territory" from Far and Away...a great Americana horn line there. Also, anytime Hedwig's Theme is played on horn is pure magic..such a darkly mystical feel!

Ray Barnsbury

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Also, anytime Hedwig's Theme is played on horn is pure magic..such a darkly mystical feel!

Oh my goodness, YES! That's the one element that cements HP:SS as my favorite Potter score. The third one has some great, entertaining, original, "different" music in it, and I'm very glad to have it as part of my collection, but I prefer the first score if only for those few moments when the horns play the B section of Hedwig's theme so loudly and wonderfully. The string accompaniment is great, as is the choir.

Ahhhh...just thinking about it is lovely...

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h my goodness, YES! That's the one element that cements HP:SS as my favorite Potter score. The third one has some great, entertaining, original, "different" music in it, and I'm very glad to have it as part of my collection, but I prefer the first score if only for those few moments when the horns play the B section of Hedwig's theme so loudly and wonderfully. The string accompaniment is great, as is the choir.

Yep! But actually, I was mainly referring to the A section of the theme, which I think is darker and more mysterious than the more sweeping B section. Both are great, though, especially on the horn!

Ray Barnsbury

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Really? Maybe I'm having a stupid moment, but I can't recall the A section ever being played by all the horns in that loud, strong way--at least, not in the first or third scores. (Or the fourth...but that's an unfortunate given.)

Here are a few horn renditions of it (not necessarily by the whole horn section):

The opening of the film, over the WB logo

2:34 "The Arrival of Baby Harry"

1:18 in "Hedwig's Theme"

And from the third score:

2:18 "A Window to the Past"

And of course, the great powerful statement as the end credits begin, with the chimes!

The B portion is played more often though, you're right.

Ray Barnsbury

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In "The Towering Inferno" when Steve McQueen pauses to regard the bodies of his fellow firefighters.

Since 9/11,that part has really resonated for me...

If the scene were somewhat longer,the Force theme would fit nicely...

Track 21 "Finale" of the Film Score Monthly Release-about 1:53 in.

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Here are a few horn renditions of it (not necessarily by the whole horn section):

The opening of the film, over the WB logo

2:34 "The Arrival of Baby Harry"

1:18 in "Hedwig's Theme"

And from the third score:

2:18 "A Window to the Past"

And of course, the great powerful statement as the end credits begin, with the chimes!

The B portion is played more often though, you're right.

Ray Barnsbury

Ah, forgot about those. Yeah, I do enjoy those statements from the first one, though I stand by my previous statement that the B section horn statements are better. So there. :D No, but seriously, those statements from the third one are great! I really love both of them for entirely different reasons. Thanks for pointing them out.

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The Cowboys is another great score for horn playing, especially the long overture. It opens with that really fast horn lick, closes with a high horn trill that sounds deadly difficult, and there are several good horn parts throughout. Also, anyone who loves the sound of a French horn should definitely check out the Denver Brass JW album (on which "Winter Games Fanfare" was released last year). Their rendition of "A Window to the Past" opens with a lone horn playing the recorder solo, and it's wonderful. And on JW's "The Mission" from Amazing Stories, the horns have great parts throughout, whether they're playing the main theme (as at the very end) or just interesting underscore.

Ray Barnsbury

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One thing I love about Williams's music is sudden unexpected short moments of pure brass solo bliss, especially horn (also trumpet sometimes) - just a few bars , but to tremendous effect. The short portion in "Anakin's Betrayal" was a good example, another one that immediately springs to mind is near the end of the majestic introduction in "The Face of Pan" (sic), when above a held minor chord from the tutti (let's suppose it's d) the horn(s?) twice plays the line "d a____ fga g_ f_ e_ d_" - just a few simple notes, two bars, but I frequently rewind that passage (with its buildup) two or three times when I listen to it. Tremendous chill effect.

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I suppose it may sound funny, but I find the solo french horn opening of the Jurassic Park Main Theme really beautiful. Of course, there are all those other solos that many people already mentioned, but those four notes are just pure beauty. Somehow, it always reminds me of Holst's Venus, the Bringer of Peace opening. Also four notes there, both are rising phrases and in both, the flutes and the harp continue after the solo horn ... :D Perhaps Williams got an inspiration from there? :)

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Actually, that track came up on shuffle today in my car and I was thinking the same thing about the opening horn part. I also think those repeated four notes are a reference to the first four notes of the island theme, which is pretty cool for Williams to have done.

Ray Barnsbury

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