Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The English Horn and Romanian Symphonies

One of the funniest, sweetest scenes in The Star Without a Name has Professor Udrea telling The Unknown woman about the symphony that he wrote, but that has yet to be performed. Why? Because he needs an English horn. For those of you not familiar with the instrument, it's a bit of an unusual instrument. The word horn makes it sound like it's a brass instrument but it's actually a reed instrument in the same family as the oboe.
An English horn, also called a cor anglais.

The instrument actually originated in the 1700s in Poland and gets its unusual sound from the bell shaped horn at the bottom of the instrument. To hear an English horn in action, listen to this piece from Dvorak, which features a solo from an English horn. You can then understand why Udrea is so insistent that he needs one in his symphony. 

The show did make me curious about Romanian symphonies so I dug around to find one by George Enescu, probably Romania's most famous composer. Called the Romanian Rhapsody, it's one of Enescu's most known works and his Romanian Rhapsodies were featured in the 1939 New York World's Fair. 

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