PARABLE FOR SOLO HORN, Op. 120 by Vincent Persichetti
INSTRUMENTATION: Unaccompanied Horn
PUBLISHER: 1973, Theodore Presser Company.
LENGTH: 97 measures, approx. 6m45s
CAN BE FOUND ON IMSLP: No
YOUTUBE: Eric Ruske
SPOTIFY: Eric Ruske, Me and My Horn
iTUNES: Douglas Hill, The Modern Horn
GRADE/DIFFICULTY (1 easy, 6 very difficult): 5.5
EXTENDED TECHNIQUES: Hand Stopping (+), Glisses, Flutter Tongue, Trills, Grace Notes, Echo Horn
RANGE (horn pitch):
Vincent Persichetti (1915 – 1987) was a Philadelphia born composer, teacher, and pianist. he served on the faculties of the Philadelphia Conservatory and the Juilliard School. It is said that he was heavily influenced by Stravinsky, Bartok, Hindemith, and Copland before finding his own voice by the 1950’s. He marks his own style as using two elements: grace and grit. Grace being lyrical and melodic embracing diversity and intense musical thought while Grit encapsulates sharp,, interruptive rhythmic gestures.
This particular piece is the eighth in a series of twenty Parables for solo instruments – flute, piccolo, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bassoon, alto sax, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, viola, cello, double bass, harp, organ, carillon, guitar, harpsichord, and piano. Persichetti mentions, “ My Parables are one-movement musical essays about a single germinal idea. They convene a meaning indirectly by the use of comparisons or analogies.” Dr. Carol Deats postulates that the Parable for Solo Horn is a metaphor for the history of the horn, also a highly spiritual composition due to the Nicene Creed quote from the composers Seventh Symphony, an intensely dramatic work due to the communicative use of expressive indications, and a repository of extended techniques.
Although difficult to play, subjecting the audience with “emotional duality” will provide conflict and strength and what Douglas Hill insists is a “deeper understanding” of Persichetti’s initial question.