Edward Gregson’s new orchestral version of the Horn Concerto, originally written in 1971 for brass band, is to receive its premiere in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, on Friday 30 August from Paul Klein (horn) and the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa. It will be given as part of a BBC Invitation Concert and will be broadcast later in the year on BBC Radio 3.
The composer comments:
For many years I have wanted to make an orchestral version of my Horn Concerto, the first of my ten concertos and composed in 1971. It was originally commissioned in its version for brass band by the British Federation of Brass Bands, with funding from the Arts Council of Great Britain, as a means of bringing top orchestral soloists together with brass bands via newly commissioned works (a process which continued in 1976 when my Tuba Concerto was commissioned for John Fletcher).
However, as the original version became more widely performed and known, a number of horn players asked me if I might consider undertaking an orchestral version of the concerto. This nearly happened on a couple of occasions but it did not finally materialise until 2012 when Paul Klein, principal horn of the Ulster Orchestra, together with the BBC, requested such a version for performance in 2013.
In considering what forces to use it became clear to me that the most practical instrumentation would be for a late Haydn-sized orchestra (with the addition of wind doublings and a percussionist to add further colour). I have remained fairly faithful to the original musical text, particularly in the solo part, but have also taken the opportunity to add some new layers of harmonic and contrapuntal texture in the orchestra writing.
The original version was written for, and dedicated to, that great horn player and teacher Ifor James. This new orchestral version is dedicated to his memory.