Instruments

A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the by Jasper Rees

By Jasper Rees

within the days ahead of his 40th birthday, London-based journalist Jasper Rees trades his pen for a French horn that has been collecting airborne dirt and dust within the attic for greater than twenty-two years, and, on a lark, performs it on the annual competition of the British Horn Society.

regardless of an embarrassingly negative functionality, the adventure conjures up Rees to embark on a frightening, weird and wonderful, and eventually profitable trip: to come to the pageant in a single year's time and play a Mozart concerto—solo—to a wide paying viewers.

A satan to Play is the real tale of an not likely midlife difficulty spent conquering 16 ft of wrapped brass tubing generally 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 center of Hollywood. And it's the account of 1 man's mounting musical obsession, informed with pitch-perfect wit and an indisputable charm—an endearing, inspiring story of perseverance and fulfillment, relayed masterfully, one side-splittingly off-key observe at a time.

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There was no keeping our distance altogether. When we were too young to object, we were taken to the meet. The setting was always the same. On top of each horse was a person in uniform: black coat with yellow collar, hard riding hat, whip, coarsely woven white gloves, cravat and pin, knee-high leather boots. Two of these people would be our parents. Perhaps because he spent his week in London, my father seemed determined to go as native as possible at the weekend. He took to wearing a top hat, and even a pink coat.

To see the history of the horn laid out, I go to the eastern outskirts of Paris. There, in a concrete park, is the Musée de la Musique. The place is heaving with instruments of every age and description. On the top floor, past room upon room of spinets and virginals and clavichords, past display upon display of hautbois and viole da gamba and mandolini, I arrive at the horn section. 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.

To hand is the New Person’s mother, who is a pianist. I’ve got the accompaniment in my case. We have played through it a couple of times, round at her place. She takes her seat at the piano. “And here’s something I prepared earlier,” I announce over the hubbub. A new sort of hush descends. There are a few giggles, but mostly there is a quiet murmur of collective trepidation as forty forty-year-olds all think the same thought. This could be genuinely excruciating. Much of my audience never got past first base with music.

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