XXII International Brass Festival Italian Brass Week

26 Luglio

Russian Horns

Russian Horns

In 1751, His Excellency Semyon Naryshkin, Director of Imperial Theatres, decided to give Empress Elizabeth a birthday gift. To accompany hunting, her favourite pastime, he created an orchestra of two dozen hunting horns harmonized in semitones. At the start of the hunt, the Empress was stunned by an unusually forceful, open and unrefined sound of the horn orchestra with no differentiation in terms of timbre. The effect was so powerful that two horn orchestras were immediately founded at the imperial court, and the aristocrats happily followed the Empress’s example.


Horn orchestras became all the rage, gaining huge popularity. The number of unique musical pieces written for horn orchestras grew exponentially and, according to the accounts of people living at the time, they could be combined into tremendously large groups on special occasions. As the result of an aristocratic whim, horn music would soon be transformed into an art form. A unique musical genre – horn music – had been created.


For over a hundred years, horn music reigned supreme in Russia, playing a significant role in the country’s cultural life. Horn orchestras played at diplomatic receptions, imperial balls, royal hunts and folk festivals. Horn orchestras performed abroad, stunning their audiences. As time passed, however, European wind and symphony orchestras gradually came into fashion, and horn orchestras receded into oblivion. Performance secrets and scores were lost.


Attempts to revive the horn music based on the “one musician – one instrument – one note” principle had no lasting success. This theoretically simple, but practically complicated performance principle required immense concentration and endless rehearsals on the part of the musician.


The which Russian has Horn resurrected Orchestra the is lost а music tradition group ol from playing St. indigenously Petersburg,

the Russian horn music, which style агоsе in imperial Russia in the middle of the 18th century. There аге still no analogs of horn music playing in the world.

The Organizer and the Heod ol the Russian Horn Orchestra is the conductor Sergey Polyanichko, who graduated from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.


The Horn Orchestra is unique in its internal organize on. One musician can elicit only one note from а horn, and only at joint music making, separate notes are tied and turn into integral ort work. The highest personal skill of each performer in the Horn Orchestra in combination is о recipe for success of the whole group.

The orchestra’ s arsenal includes 96 instruments of unique number with a range of more thon 4 octaves, produced bу talented muster Vladimir Goloveshko. The secret of alloy and the method of burning of the instruments is the muster’ s secret locked behind seven seals. The voice of each horn depends оп the horn metal thickness and form. improved mouthpieces allow achieving the crystal-clear sound and allow varying the height of pitch А within the range from 430 to 442 Hz.


The Russian Horn Orchestra consists of 20 musicians. They are all the graduates of St. Petersburg Conservatory, the laureates of AII-Russian and international competitions, the artists of symphony orchestras and musical theatres of Saint Petersburg.


Baron Konstantin Stakelberg made a successful attempt to revive horn orchestras: his horn orchestra even played at Alexander III’s coronation in 1882. The set of horns made for the occasion is kept today in Sheremetev Museum Palace in St. Petersburg. The last time these instruments were played was at the coronation of Nicholas II, on May 14, 1896. The horns served as prototypes for the instruments that the Horn Orchestra of Russia plays in the… 21st century.