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Thread: True Story - But also a Good Joke

  1. #1

    True Story - But also a Good Joke

    This question was recently posted on the Facebook "Horn People" group:

    I have a conductor who is insisting that our section not spin our horns at all to empty water during our upcoming concerts. He doesn't like the way it looks. Wondering if anyone knows where I can find the anecdote about Phil Farkas and the Chicago concert where he and his section did not empty their water? I've tried using the search feature and have not been successful.
    Thanks!

    And here is the answer someone provided:

    Philip Farkas relates in either an interview or his book "The Art of French Horn Playing" how in his younger days in Chicago, Reiner came to him and told him that a wealthy woman who was a great financial backer of the CSO accosted him (Reiner) at a cocktail party and expressed great disgust at how the french horns were always draining their horns right there on the stage in public! So Reiner told Farkas not to do that anymore and to tell the whole horn section.

    During the concert, it came time for a horn solo (I don't recall the work or even if it was mentioned in the article) and all that came out of the horn was gurgles and belches. In the intermission, a livid Reiner confronted Farkas. "How could you play so horribly? You've never sounded that!" Farkas said "I just flipped over my horn and all that built up water poured out onto Reiner's shoe. No mention was ever made again about us not emptying our horns on stage."
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
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  2. #2
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
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    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
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  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Just think of a brass section as a rain forest...

    DG
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
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  4. #4
    Join Date
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    If you own a rotary tuba, then every once in a while -- even during a concert -- you may need to spin it. This puts the horn spin into the proper perspective.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
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    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  5. My solution is that I use a folded towel to support my horn while playing, and the water also goes on the towel. In my opinion, everyone should do this--dumping it on the floor is nasty. Granted, sometimes it is unavoidable, but most of the time it isn't.

  6. What's so nasty about it? It's 95% water and any spit mixed in is really diluted.
    1905 Boosey Class A Euphonium-Wick SM4M
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  7. #7
    Two things to keep in mind about this anecdote. First, when a wealthy patron of the arts, who is helping pay your salary and keep your ensemble alive, makes a complaint, it does tend to get at least some kind of reaction. But the issue is the physical display of turning the horn around to get the water to drop out. She did not complain about the trumpets, trombones, and tuba who undoubtedly had to empty spit valves. French horns are never (in my experience) made with enough water keys to do that - it would be a copious number of keys! In the Coast Guard our players sometimes had to play "gigs" for the Cadet Musical Activities presentations or shows. In one such, the choir director for the cadets yelled at our horns for the same thing.

    That's one of the reasons I like having a water key on the 2nd valve. Pulling and dumping that one (even without spinning the instrument!) is more noticeable to the audience than just emptying a water key. That was pointed out to me by one of the CG Band's woodwind players who was sitting in the audience area during a rehearsal of a solo I was doing. Of course, we all take it for granted and don't notice it when we see other players pulling/dumping, but our hope is that our future holds performances in front of audience who are not just composed of brass players. Just as you might shine your horn, put on nice clothes, etc. to present a solo, you should also consider how this aspect affects the audience.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  8. Quote Originally Posted by LargoBone View Post
    What's so nasty about it? It's 95% water and any spit mixed in is really diluted.
    So it is liking spitting on the floor but only a little? I agree it is mostly water...carrying with it saliva, bacteria (from your oral cavity plus whatever cultures are growing in your horn), oil, etc. I just think it is crude and rude to dump it on the floor.

  9. Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    That's one of the reasons I like having a water key on the 2nd valve.
    Dave I agree with your comments about "appearances" also. I appreciate you mentioning some time ago about the 2nd valve water key. I took your lead and had one made for my horn also and find it VERY useful--a lot of water seems to collect there.

  10. A black hand towel on the floor between your feet? Works for me.

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