The Vienna Horn in non-Viennese Ensembles


The Vienna horn is a musical time-capsule.

Its construction, sound and playing approach all have a direct lineage from the days of the natural horn to today.

In recent years (and thanks to some excellent recordings from the Vienna Phil), interest in the Vienna horn has expanded far outside of Vienna (and Europe).

Using the Vienna Horn Outside of Vienna?

An interesting research paper at AustrisMusik has looked into how the Vienna horn may fit into non-Viennese ensembles.

The paper, Pros and Cons of Choosing Vienna Horn in a Symphony Orchestra, looks at a wide array of details regarding the construction, playing technique, and ensemble benefits of the Vienna horn.

From the paper’s abstract:

This research is about finding out what are the pros and cons of choosing Vienna horn to play in a symphony orchestra…The results have shown me that the difference between Vienna horn and modern double horn designs is immense…The most surprising revelation for me was that the Viennese horn players do not adapt to this horn design. It is the other way around. The instrument suits their traditional way of playing, the concept of the sound and technique. I have found out that it is vastly different than how players imagine the double horns should be played.

Vienna Horn Specifics

Among the topics covered in the report:

  • History of the Vienna Horn
  • Vienna Horn Manufacturers
  • Construction of the Vienna Horn
  • Vienna Horn Valves
  • Vienna Horn Mouthpiece
  • Technical Capabilities
  • Playing Technique
  • Use Within a Symphony Orchestra

At the back of the research paper, there is also a transcript of questions and answers from some of the foremost experts in the Vienna horn: Andreas Jungwirth, Engelbert Schmidt, Tim Barrett, Dave Claessen, and Wolfgang Vladar.

I have gone through various phases of wanting a Vienna horn, and this paper does a lot for increasing that desire. However, it looks like you need to get a set of 4 to see much benefit in an ensemble (donations are appreciated!).

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the full report here.

For even more Vienna horn content, you can watch Sarah Willis interview Wolfgang Vladar on Horn Hangouts:


About Colin Dorman

Colin is a freelance horn player and teacher, as well as a fan of tech of all sorts, aviation, and increasingly complex flight simulators. He also enjoys beer, bourbon and fitness - but not at the same time. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, as well as right here at ColinDorman.com!