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A devil to play : one man's year-long quest to master the orchestra's most diffi
Jasper Rees
Adult Nonfiction ML419.R4 A3 2008

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Rees, a London journalist, decided to face his midlife crisis by picking up the French horn--an instrument he hadn't played since he was a teenager--and whip himself back into shape so he could play a Mozart concerto in front of an audience in just one year. Luckily, he had one of England's best horn players to give him lessons, but it was still an uphill battle--for starters, the concerto was composed in the key of E flat, but the horn was tuned to F, so Rees (like every performer before him) had to transpose the notes down a tone as he played along. Along the way, he recounts the instrument's colorful history, including a playful recreation of the first performance of Handel's Water Music (when the hunting horn first appeared alongside more widely acknowledged "serious" instruments), and chats with many of the world's leading performers, as well as Holly Hunter and Ewan McGregor who, like Rees, played the instrument in their youth. Rees's self-assigned quest turns into an amiable romp with quiet bits of inspiration. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

British journalist Rees recounts his quixotic attempt to develop sufficient skill on the French horn (after 22 years away from the instrument) to perform a Mozart concerto at the annual British Horn Society Festival. In much the same fashion that George Plimpton chronicled a tryout with the Detroit Lions in Paper Lion, Rees explains just how hard it is to operate at a professional level; yet, his performance at the festival was certainly more of a success than Plimpton's famous scrimmage. Along the way, Rees imparts the history of the horn, describes life in a horn camp in New Hampshire, hobnobs with great horn players around the world, and expounds generally on the lore of the instrument. He writes in an engaging style, and much of the charm resides in his struggle to discipline himself for a goal largely aesthetic. While not as consistently delightful as Catherine Drinker Bowen's classic book on amateur musicianship, Friends and Fiddlers, this is a great read for all amateur musicians and all lovers of the French horn. Recommended.-Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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