By Jasper Rees
within the days earlier than his 40th birthday, London-based journalist Jasper Rees trades his pen for a French horn that has been accumulating airborne dirt and dust within the attic for greater than twenty-two years, and, on a lark, performs it on the annual pageant of the British Horn Society.
regardless of an embarrassingly terrible functionality, the adventure conjures up Rees to embark on a frightening, strange, and finally profitable trip: to come back to the pageant in a single year's time and play a Mozart concertoвЂ”soloвЂ”to a wide paying viewers.
A satan to Play is the genuine tale of an not going midlife difficulty spent conquering 16 toes of wrapped brass tubing broadly considered as the main tricky device to grasp, in addition to the main treacherous to play in public. it's the historical past of man's first musical tool, a compelling trip that strikes from the partitions of Jericho to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts membership Band , from the searching fields of France to the guts of Hollywood. And it's the account of 1 man's mounting musical obsession, advised with pitch-perfect wit and an indisputable charmвЂ”an endearing, inspiring story of perseverance and fulfillment, relayed masterfully, one side-splittingly off-key word at a time.
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Extra info for A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument
There are several examples from the decades of technological experimentation either side of 1800, when manufacturers looked for ways to expand the limited number of notes that could be sounded on the instrument. One made by Raoux in 1797 has half a dozen detachable crooks, for changing key, stored in a wooden chest. An 1818 horn by the Courtois Frères has no valves. One from two years later has two piston valves (the full complement would turn out to be three). Horticultural decoration sprouts leafily inside the bell.
For a freshly minted horn obsessive who turns up on one of those freezing midwinter afternoons when the sun has clocked off at lunchtime, this is a sight to warm the heart. There, in a glass cabinet, are a dozen or so beautiful instruments. They are arranged in two rows, like a football team posing for a photo- A D E V I L TO P L AY 25 graph before a final. There are horns from the late seventeenth century through to the middle of the nineteenth century. The makers’ names have a rough artisanal flavor.
In the wrong hands it’s none of the above. The days pass. I keep at it. Quite where this sudden sprouting of a Protestant work ethic comes from is puzzling. Why is it that you are prepared to hammer away at something when you’re thirty-nine but not when you’re fifteen? Surely it isn’t simply that as a fifteen-year-old you can’t be bothered. There are many things I can’t be bothered to do at thirty-nine. The appropriate amount of exercise, to take a bogstandard example. Get going on that pile of secondhand Penguin classics I keep telling myself that people like me ought to have read by now.
A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument by Jasper Rees