tune in – AUTUMN / WINTER 2013 –
Did you always want to be a professional musician? When did you decide that it was the career for you? I'd say I 'clicked' with the horn around the age of 12. I had a slightly unusual career path: as winner of the 1988 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition (at the age of 14) I got a lot of experience performing solos and concertos all over the world. I had lessons with Frank Lloyd (Professor of Horn at the Guildhall) from the age of 12, but when it came to deciding whether to go to university or music college, I chose university. After leaving Cambridge after only four terms I went straight to work at Scottish Opera for two years, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for another two years, then the London Symphony Orchestra for the next 14. I'd always wanted to be an orchestral player, rather than a soloist, but am very glad to have the chance to play so much of the solo repertoire with some really fantastic orchestras and conductors. Which LPO concerts next season are you most looking forward to? I'm really looking forward to Britten's Peter Grimes on 28 September – this is one of the first operas I played when I joined Scottish
What are the particular challenges of orchestral horn playing? Orchestral playing is a challenge in many ways. Stamina and endurance are different to those of a soloist: I equate solo playing with a sprint and orchestral playing with a marathon – particularly Wagner! There is also the sense of having so many elements with which we have to blend: we're neither wind nor brass, but need to play with both groups. So we have to be able to play as quietly as the clarinets, and as loudly as the trombones.
– david pyatt – David joined the Orchestra as joint Principal Horn in January 2013. We caught up with him to find out about life as an orchestral musician and what he gets up to offstage ... Opera, and contains some of the most powerful and moving music ever written. I'm also very much looking forward to hearing my colleague and fellow Principal, John Ryan, perform as soloist in Messiaen's Des canyons aux étoiles on 2 November. Further ahead, Mahler's Symphony No. 6 with Vladimir Jurowski on 15 January will be another highlight for the horn section, as will the two 'Genius of Film Music' concerts on 8 and 29 November. Who are your favourite composers? My favourite composers to play are Strauss, Mahler and Bruckner. Call me a traditionalist, but I suspect this is the answer you would receive from most horn players! To listen for relaxation I tend more towards the classical string repertoire of Bach, Dvořák and Brahms. Other than that I listen to (fairly mainstream) jazz, and I do enjoy the odd film soundtrack ...
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What do you do for fun when you’re not working? I find cooking a great way to relax – I especially enjoy cooking a big roast dinner on Sunday for my family, including my two children, Iris and Gordon, to devour! Family meals are really important to me: we have such weird lives as musicians that any kind of routine becomes extremely important. I also enjoy gardening, and walking with our dog, Ruby. I can be in a terrible mood, but as soon as I let her off her leash she makes me smile. No-one ever said Irish Setters were intelligent, but they do know how to have fun! If you weren’t a musician, what career might you have liked to do instead? That's tricky! I think I'd have liked to work outdoors, but I'm not sure I have the patience for gardening or vegetable growing on a big scale. Or I might have ended up a history teacher, which was my subject during my brief sojourn at university.There's something about studying history that I find enormously satisfying. Seeing how events fit together and trying to fathom the reasons and motivations behind people's actions is all-engrossing. I feel it's absolutely essential to understanding the world. Since joining the LPO in January, I've found The Rest Is Noise series a fascinating journey – I'm enjoying plugging quite a few gaps in my knowledge! Perhaps if I'd stayed at Cambridge a little longer ... David's chair in the London Philharmonic Orchestra is generously supported by Simon Robey.
Photo © Nina Large
When did you start playing the horn? What attracted you to the instrument? I started at the age of nine, and the horn was chosen for me owing to the fact that my father had played it in his youth and we still had his old instrument in the loft. I grew up with the sound of classical music – particularly horn music – but neither of my parents were musicians. When we were offered free lessons at school, it made sense to start on the horn. I grew up in Watford, and went to Watford Grammar School. It 's often been remarked on that Watford Grammar has an unusually high quota of horn players on its old boys' books: Michael Purton (Hallé Principal), Adrian Leaper (Philharmonia and now conductor), Michael Thompson (Philharmonia Principal and soloist), me, Tim Thorpe (BBC National Orchestra of Wales Principal) and Kevin Pritchard (Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). Quite a list!