Orchestral Excerpts for Low Horn


  • Eli Epstein performs and teaches (in spoken commentary) how to approach and master 21 of the most challenging orchestral excerpts for low horn (available for download).
  • Rich images, diagrams, video and written materials explain and illuminate concepts brought up in the spoken commentary. 
  • Links to PDFs for each excerpt.
  • Links to exemplary orchestral performances for almost every excerpt.
  • Additional materials on powerful audition preparation.


Half of the horn parts in the orchestral literature are low horn parts. Orchestral sound and expression are enhanced and strengthened when those parts are played with beautiful tone, intonation, artistry and assuredness. Low horn parts present many technical challenges, such as: How do we make large jumps with agility, ease and accuracy? How do we play in the low and middle range with strength and projection without elevating the intonation? How do we produce smooth legato or clear staccato and evenness of sound over the horn's almost four octave range? 

In my 18 years as second horn of The Cleveland Orchestra, I performed and recorded most of the Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schumann symphonies, Strauss Tone Poems, and Wagner Ring operas. During that time, I constantly tinkered and experimented with low horn issues. I came upon strong principles of playing that have worked not only for me, but also for many students in conservatories and summer festivals. 

My sincere hope is that my recordings and the information in this support site will serve as a comprehensive resource to inspire horn players to move forward on the path toward greater ease, enjoyment, and mastery in low horn playing.

Eli Epstein


For more information, view Eli Epstein's bio.


Heartfelt thanks go to the following people and organizations whose skills, talents and generous efforts assisted me greatly in the production of the Orchestral Excerpts for Low Horn recording and web site:

  • Jesse Lewis, recording engineer.
  • Daren Robbins, Hornexcerpts.org, and the International Horn Society for their kind permission.
  • Dan Zedek, album cover art, home page.
  • New England Conservatory for their generous permission to record in Jordan Hall.
  • C.F. Peters Corporation for their kind permission to record and reprint Richard Strauss: Don Quixote, Op. 35, Variation VII, Horn 2 and Variation VIII, Horn 2. ©Copyright 1898 by Josef Albi Musikverlag and ©Copyright 1932 assigned to C.F. Peters Musikverlag; and Richard Strauss: Ein Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 (rehearsal 63 to 4 measures after rehearsal 65), Horn 2. Copyright©1915 by F.E.C. Leuckart. All rights reserved. Used by kind permission.
  • G. Schirmer for their permission to record Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, first movement (third measure of rehearsal 17 through the first measure of rehearsal 21), Horn 2. Copyright©1939 by G. Schirmer Inc. (ASCAP). All rights reserved. Used by kind permission.
  • Melissa Steinberg, librarian.
  • Adam Epstein, Finale work.
  • Richard Malcolm and the Boston Conservatory, YouTube video.
  • Robin Friedman, graphic design.
  • Dr. Peter Iltis, Professor of Horn and Kinesiology, Gordon College
  • Keith Underwood

Photo Credits

  • Horn, orangutan, snake, wrench set, audition taker, old-time orchestra photos: istockphoto.
  • "About" photo: Liz Linder
  • Jordan Hall recording set-up photo: Jesse Lewis
  • "Monkey face" embouchure, hand position, and finger-breathing photos: Valerie Morhaime