Pittsburgh names a principal

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Manfred Honeck have selected Kyle Mustain of the Oregon Symphony as Principal English Horn (which some call cor anglais).

He starts work next week.

The PR says he’s a fan of Prime Minister’s Questions, definitely an acquired taste.

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  • Lots of my American friends like PMQs, you can even watch it on BritBox (an Amazon Prime channel) where they have “episodic highlights.”

    PSO is a wonderful orchestra (gave a great Mahler 5 in NY a few months back).

    • You’re right. Strictly speaking, it’s a contradiction in terms. Similarly, I told somebody that I was about to play the Brahm’s Clarinet Quintet and he asked me if there were five clarinets in it. A: he was a native speaker of English B: he wasn’t kidding. C: He is a composer-or at least passes himself off for one.

    • No. Any instrument that there’s only one of, that player is called a principal. The tuba player is Principal Tuba, the harpist is Principal Harp, etc. It may be “funny,” but that’s how it works. (Sometimes they are called “solo” this or that, but that is also a title shared with “normal” principals: solo flute of the Tortuga Symphony, for example.)

  • Funny how an instrument with such rich overtones was given the name “English.” If it were up to me, I would have named a cement mixer “English horn” and perhaps called this beautiful instrument “cor Francais.”

    Have at it. Heh.

    • The explanation I’ve always heard is that the original term was “cor anglé” : at an angle, referring to its shape. So “anglais” became a corruption of “anglé” and the “English” a translation of “Anglais”. No doubt other people have other explanations.

    • It is my understanding that it was meant as an “angled” horn, as are the cor Anglais one sees in Baroque practice. It is neither English nor a horn. But, dig that sound, for sure!!

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