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Playing Mahler 7 Tenor Horn part

By Brian Bindner, 2./3./Utility Trombone with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra

Here´s some thoughts on playing the Mahler 7 Tenor horn part. Having just ended a week where I had the pleasure of performing the part with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, with Fabio Luisi at the helm - I noticed a couple of things flying through my mind that, to me, really nailed why this part is so hard to play.

  1. If you ( like me ) don´t play the Tenor Horn or Euphonium on a regular basis - it can be tricky to have complete trust in your horns intonation.  What I find works the best to ensure a good level of intonation on your euphonium/baritone, is to ask your colleges to play some slow scales with you. Preferably F sharp scales, since that´s the note you start out with. Even if you have a good set of ears, and normally don´t have issues with intonation, it´s such a big help to have your colleges help you out, relieving some of the stress by playing this solo.
  2. Be happy that YOU got the permission to play the part, and to be trusted to open the whole Symphony with your solo. This rarely happens to any brass player ( except the Trumpet in Mahler 5 ), so embrace it - buckle up, and charge ahead! Take 4-5 minutes 10 times per day in the week leading up to the concert and meditate/visualize your self in the hall, playing the solo.
  3. Tenor horn/Euphonium? It´s all a matter of taste. If you´re lucky, you get to choose your self which instrument you play on, but often the conductor has an opinion too. To me, I find it hard to get the notes as full and heavy as the part demands on a tenor horn. My pick will always be an Euphonium - but not as big as the Hirschbrunner´s - go for a horn that rings well in the high register, and where you can clearly get the attack of the notes out in the hall.

Have a listen to 3 different examples below - by Nico Shippers ( Concertgebouw, Netherland:


Denson Paul Pollard - The Metropolitan Opera, New York:

Brian Bindner - Danish National Symphony Orchestra: