KS2 Music Quiz
Ten Pieces - Horn Concerto No. 4 (3rd Movement)
Find out more about the French horn in this quiz.

Ten Pieces - Horn Concerto No. 4 (3rd Movement)

This KS2 Music quiz is inspired by the BBC Ten Pieces which you can find at BBC Bitesize. It's all about Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4 - probably one of the 'catchiest and most cheerful numbers' ever written.

What is a concerto? Well, it's a piece of music which features a solo instrument which is accompanied by an orchestra. Mozart wrote four concertos for the horn, and this piece is the third and final movement of the last. It takes the form of a rondo. That means that it's tune returns several times in different parts of the piece.

What is it exactly that makes Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4 such an ear-worm? Let's have a look into its musical workings...

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  1. The horn is a notoriously difficult instrument to make sound steady and attractive (even more so than the dear violin; or than the keyboards, where at least the notes are 'already there' and one merely has to hit them in the right order). In common with other brass instruments and also the flute, it needs very special techniques in the actual blowing, quite apart from any fingering issues. What is the correct musical term for 'applying one's mouth and blowing'?
    This is originally a French term (from their root-word bouche = 'mouth')
  2. There is a famous and much-loved song version of this piece, supposedly telling the story of someone who learnt the horn precisely so as to be able to play this (cheerful but tricky) movement ~ and then whose instrument was stolen. What were the names of the duo who wrote and popularised this version in the 1950s?
    Gilbert & Sullivan (Ans.3) were each dead by 50-odd years when this version was written. Flanders & Swann entitled their song Ill Wind and it should be readily available online / by CD etc
  3. This piece is marked to be played Allegro Vivace. Which of the following does this mean ~ as though you probably couldn't have guessed?
    Vivace is related to 'vivid', i.e. with plenty of life to it. It's hard to hear this piece and not buck up and smile!
  4. The horn generally sits well against, or near, the human body. What total length of tubing is contained within the instrument?
    Including all the 'diversions' this is the correct length. Answer 3 refers to the typical total length of the digestive tract within a fullgrown human body ~ not to the tubing in a horn!
  5. How many times does the main theme ('tune') come round within this movement?
    We hear plenty of the tune as it goes away and comes back again every couple of minutes. It would be a shame to waste such a good one!
  6. This movement is scored for solo horn (obviously enough) plus two 'chorus' horns in the orchestra; what other wind instrument/s, if any (i.e. brass or woodwind) are required?
    If you listen carefully you will still fail to hear any flutes, clarinets or trumpets at any point
  7. The rhythm of the piece is technically known as 'compound duple time' (i.e. two main beats, each subdivided into 3 rather than 2 or 4; 'gallopy-gallopy', etc.). In simple terms, how does this appear as a time-signature on the score and parts?
    This time pattern is associated with riding, galloping, cavalry marches (like Sousa's Liberty Bell and many others) and the old 'jig' dance ~ to which one could, at very least, easily skip (think of BBC Radio 4's Archers signature tune, which began life in the style of a maypole dance)
  8. How many valves are there on a 'modern' French horn?
    These enable the player to switch-in extra lengths of tubing so that all the notes can be played. Previously, the single un-valved tube could only produce notes within its harmonic series (not the same thing as a full scale; please look up this technicality elsewhere if interested, since it's important)
  9. The whole sound and rhythm of this piece is powerfully evocative of which activity, that was probably done a great deal more in Mozart's day?
    The horn (and its single-tube cousins, the bugle and post-horn) were originally used as outdoor signals over long distances. It was Papa Haydn who had the master idea of bringing the horns into his developing orchestra on the Esterhazy estate, and nowadays the symphony orchestra would be the poorer without the warmth of a group of them in the middle register of the brass section
  10. What is the technical term for what happens around 3 minutes into our recording ~ when the orchestra 'pulls up' and the horn plays entirely alone, in flexible time, for a while before everyone returns to the main tune?
    'Cadence' means the musical feature where one chord leads into another as the harmonies move on through a piece, and at the end. If you stop a moment to consider what goes on in Happy Birthday to You, each time you sing 'to you' you can probably hear others singing or playing along with you, and together they reach ~ as it were ~ the end of a musical phrase or sentence (or idea). The first 'to you' sounds and feels different from the second and final ones (which should sound alike): and 'where the music's going' at these points is, basically, a matter of cadences. In a concerto movement, what one might expect to be a final cadence is suspended in mid-air while the soloist goes off on a (usually fairly wild and virtuosic) flight of musical fancy all on their own

Author: Ian Miles

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