How convenient it would be if we could make history fit into neat little compartments! Music could be divided into the pre-Baroque, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern. The piano would have ancestors in the harpsichord and fortepiano, and the horn would exist either without valves before the 1820s or with them thereafter. Unfortunately things are not as simple as that. There are composers whose music cannot easily be categorised, instruments which vary widely from their conventional forms, and a diversity of techniques required to play them.
The works on this CD illustrate several of these points, particularly with regard to the history of the horn and techniques of playing it.
The Introduction et Variations concertantes sur une tirolienne, written for valved horn circa 1830, demonstrates Czerny’s knowledge of valve technology, but subsequently he composed for the natural (valveless) horn (see ‘The Instruments’ below) in the Brillante Fantasien (c1836) and the Andante e Polacca (1848).
We do not know of any specific reason why he seemed to turn his back on the new development of valves, but we can learn some of his thoughts and feelings about the use of the horn from his School of Practical Composition, Op 600, first published in 1839. In the English edition of 1846 there are several points in the main section on the use of the natural horn, but he refers to brass instruments with valves only in the appendix where he gives an outline of the saxhorn family (a new invention of Adolphe Sax—the inventor of the saxophone).
This is how he perceived the duet combining piano and horn, a popular form of nineteenth-century salon music