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Thelander and Breckenridge will play music for natural horn and fortepiano Sept. 19 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Horn player Kristin Thelander from the University of Iowa School of Music will be joined by Carol lei Breckenridge from Central College in Pella for a recital of early 19th-century music for natural horn and fortepiano at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Thelander and Breckenridge will perform five works: Beethoven's Sonata in F major, op. 17; the Romance of Camille Saint-Saens; Douzieme Solo (Twelfth solo) by Jacques-Francois Gallay; Franz Lachner's "Variations on a Favorite Swiss Folksong"; and the Sonata in F major, op. 2 by Louis-Francois Dauprat. Their recital will be free and open to the public.

The natural horn -- basically a curved brass tube without valves -- and the fortepiano -- a smaller, gentler precursor of the modern grand piano -- are the historical instruments of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. There was an abundance of music written for the combination of natural horn and fortepiano, particularly between 1750 and 1850, when the natural horn was as popular a solo instrument as the violin or the piano.

Even after valves were invented in 1815, composers and performers alike continued to prefer the natural horn. This popularity seems to have been due to the beauty of tone, smoothness and flexibility of the great horn virtuosos of the time.

Thelander has performed professionally on both the historical natural horn and the modern instrument with valves. She prefers the natural horn for the earlier music because, she says, "certain aspects of expression and technique are especially satisfying when the music is performed on the instruments for which it was originally intended."

Because it has no valves, the natural horn can only play the notes of the natural harmonic series. The other notes of the scale are played by using the right hand inside the bell. As Thelander explains, "part of the charm of the natural horn is the variation of tone quality that results from using the right hand inside the bell."

Beethoven wrote his Sonata for horn and piano for Giovanni Punto (born as Johann Wenzel Stich), a successful horn player who had earlier impressed Mozart with his playing. Beethoven and Punto premiered the sonata in Vienna and Budapest in 1800. Because Punto specialized in low horn playing, the sonata does not extend into the highest register of the instrument. Instead it features the characteristic low-horn techniques of wide leaps and rapid arpeggios. Written by Beethoven for himself to play, the piano part is even more virtuosic than the horn part and often plays the themes.

One of the lesser known musicians of the early 19th century, Dauprat was a horn professor at the Paris Conservatory. He is remembered today chiefly for a method book he published in 1824. Second horn of the Paris Opera orchestra, he evidently preferred the anonymity of orchestral playing to the life of a concert virtuoso. His many works were probably written for his students at the conservatory rather than for his own performances. The horn and piano are treated equally in his Sonata in F major with virtuosic passages written for both instruments.

Gallay studied horn with Dauprat, whom he succeeded as horn professor at the Paris Conservatory. Like Dauprat, he is remembered for his study pieces for the horn, which are still used for teaching. He also wrote many duets, trios and quartets for horn ensembles and at least 56 solos for horn and piano, 12 concertos and other works. Although he played and taught long after the invention of the valved horn, Gallay played only the natural horn, and his solos were used for natural horn competitions at the conservatory until 1896.

Thelander joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in 1989. Active as both soloist and chamber musician, she is a member of the Iowa Brass Quintet. During the summer she performs with the Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville, Ore. Previously she was on the music faculty at the University of New Mexico, and she was a member of the New Mexico Brass Quintet, the Santa Fe Symphony, the New Mexico Symphony and the Four Corners Opera Festival in Durango, Colo.

Thelander holds degrees from St. Olaf College, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin. She was the first prize-winner in the 1981 American Horn Competition, and she has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, South Korea and the People's Republic of China. She has been a featured artist at many regional and international horn workshops in recent years, and she has performed as soloist with the La Crosse Symphony, the Heartland of America Air Force Band, the Lake Agassiz Concert Band, the Britt Festival Orchestra, the Iowa Baroque Orchestra, the Greeley (Colo.) Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Symphony.

Thelander has recorded two CDs for Crystal Records, one with the New Mexico Brass Quintet and one as natural horn soloist with Breckenridge. In 1997 the Iowa Brass Quintet released its first CD, featuring music celebrating the UI Sesquicentennial, and they recently released a recording of the Fisher Tull Concerto da Camerata for saxophone and brass quintet for the Centaur label. Thelander has been a member of the Advisory Council and the vice-president of the International Horn Society.

Breckenridge is chair of the music department at Central College. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in piano from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate from the UI. She has developed a specialty in Classical-era keyboard music and has become an active performer and lecturer on the fortepiano and the clavichord. She recently studied fortepiano and Classical style with the distinguished pianist Malcolm Bilson at Cornell University.

Breckenridge has presented programs for the Midwestern Historical Keyboard Society, the Iowa City Early Keyboard Society and the International Clavichord Symposium, and she has played concertos with the Baroque Orchestra of Iowa and the Susquehanna University Orchestra. She has published several articles on Classical keyboard music, and she is currently preparing a "Guide to Classical-Era Keyboard Music for Piano Teachers and Students."

9/8/98