• John Harbison
  • French Horn Suite (2006)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 4hn
  • 19 min

Programme Note

April 24 2009
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA

Composer Note:
The French horn is not really French and neither is my suite. Somehow the movement titles needed to be in that language, common phrases that tell something useful about each movement.

The pieces is a series of antiphons, conversations between two pairs of horns. The
premise was that each answering pair may in some way mis-hear the first, producing a response that is "close, but no cigar."

I enjoyed this notion very much until I realized that such a procedure results in something we already know as "development," incremental change driving a piece forward. Still, the piece derives something of its character and humor from my first train of thought.

To emphasize the integrity of the pairs, they should be substantially separated on stage, and well-matched in sound and personality.

French Horn Suite was commissioned by Jean Rife, dear friend of many years, who gave me a chance to explore fourfold the sound of one of my favorite instruments.

— John Harbison

I. Les Preludes: Double Entendre
II. Mal entendu (une paire extraordinaire)
III. La Ronde
IV. Le Quartier Latin
V. Chacun a son gout (nous manger petits fours)
VI. La parapluie de ma tante