Concerto for Horn with Winds & Strings


Concerto for Horn with Winds & Strings


for horn with winds and strings (1996)

  • Premiere: 1 November 1996  / First Congregational Church, Madison, Wisconsin  / Soren Hermansson, horn / The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra / David Lewis Crosby
  • Instrumentation: 1.1.1(=ssax).1- 
  • Duration: 17'
  • Dedication: to Sören Hermansson
  • Available only as a rental work. A study score is available from our print distribution partner, Theodore Front.

I. Nightfall - II. Serenade - III. Midnight - IV. Aubade - V. Daybreak

Program note

The Concerto for Horn, with Winds and Strings consists of five movements which surround the central one, 'Midnight,' in the manner of concentric parenthesese. Reading the movement titles in order (Nightfall, Serenade, Midnight, Aubade, and then Daybreak) reveals the composer's program. Hagen writes, 'The piece is a sort of overnight symposium during which three characters -- the horn, the winds, and the strings -- take turns presenting their personal stories.'

The first movement, Nightfall, is a dramatic essay in triads and 'melodic wedges' -- melodies which unfold in the manner of a palidrome. Each character introduces himself and presents his opening statement. Serenade, according to Hagen, "is a treatment of a melody that I wrote in 1980 while enjoying a glass of wine in my favourite restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. Reaching back into my sketchbook for the melody was an excercise in nostalgia rewarded -- the tune touched off many memories of my student days there as I dressed it in new, chromatic harmonies." The third movement, Midnight, is a three way quarrel between the horn, a solo cello, and the massed violins. Each is in a different key. The fourth movement, Aubade, is a happy-sad jazz waltz for the horn, accompanied by the strings. An 'aubade' is, traditionally, a song of or about lovers separating at dawn. Soprano saxophone joins the horn in a dreamy obbligato. Daybreak, the final movement, is the fastest, the longest, and the most difficult. Heraldic fanfares in the solo horn and in the winds are supported by chunky string writing. The concerto ends with a joyous, over-the-top virtuoso cadenza for the horn.

The concerto was composed during a residency at the Rockefeller's Villa Serbelloni, in Bellagio, Italy during the Autumn of 1993. Completed on 13 November 1993, the work was set aside until 1 November 1996, when it was premiered by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Soren Hermannsson, horn soloist, conducted by Music Director David Crosby, at the First Congregational Church of Madison, Wisconsin.


... an engaging work, well-proportioned structurally and with effective musical contrasts. The five movements explore a series of moods based around a night theme. The first movement, Nightfall, is a quick and short piece that evokes a carnoval mood, in a vaguely Stravinskian style. This is followed by a Serenade, a calm movement. Midnight is a rather raucous discussion between the soloist and the violins and cellos. The fourth movement, Aubade, is a 'jazz waltz,' in the composer's words. It is a wistful and lyrical dialogue between the soloist and soprano saxaphone, with a short interlude by the oboe. The best movement of the entire piece, it was repeated as an encore. Closing the work is Daybreak..... Hagen's originality in this work is in the narrative structure, an impressionistic journey through the night. There is a good balance between this program and the music, five relatively short movements that have just the right amount of material and length. The musical gestures are more aphoristic than developmental.

— Ron Wiecki, Wisconsin State Journal, November 2, 1996

Soren Hermansson

Soren Hermansson