The Black Horn: The Story of Classical French Hornist Robert Lee Watt (African American Cultural Theory and Heritage)

The Black Horn: The Story of Classical French Hornist Robert Lee Watt (African American Cultural Theory and Heritage)

Robert Lee Watt

Language: English

Pages: 300

ISBN: 1442239387

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Black Horn: The Story of Classical French Hornist Robert Lee Watt tells the story of the first African American French Hornist hired by a major symphony in the United States. Today, few African Americans hold chairs in major American symphony orchestras, and Watt is the first in many years to write about this uniquely exhilarating—and at times painful—experience.

The Black Horn chronicles the upbringing of a young boy fascinated by the sound of the French horn. Watt walks readers through the many obstacles of the racial climate in the United States, both on and off stage, and his efforts to learn and eventually master an instrument little considered in the African American community. Even the author’s own father, who played trumpet, sought to dissuade the young classical musician in the making. He faced opposition from within the community—where the instrument was deemed by Watt’s father a “middle instrument suited only for thin-lipped white boys”—and from without. Watt also documented his struggles as a student at a nearly all-white major music conservatory, as well as his first job in a major symphony orchestra after the conservatory canceled his scholarship.

Watt subsequently chronicles his triumphs and travails as a musician when confronting the realities of race in America and the world of classical music. This book will surely interest any classical musician and student, particularly those of color, seeking to grasp the sometimes troubled history of being the only “black horn.”

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after school? Where did she go? Perhaps she had a boyfriend or a suitor, who was more together than I was academically and musically? What if they were going to meet that very evening and play music together—discuss their college aspirations, even attend the same college and go steady? Perhaps he was a white guy? Perhaps he would even propose marriage? I simply couldn’t shake that feeling of insecurity. She just seemed so far above me and out of my reach. A roar of thunder jolted me out of my

Levis. When I got closer, I remembered her from the opening night party. She was the other dark-haired woman I noticed but never got to meet. We introduced ourselves. Her name was Rachel-Marie and instantly I felt an affinity well up between us. She sensed it too and we agreed to meet later at dinner and perhaps take a walk in the meadows. My walk with Rachel-Marie was like a dream. A beautiful moonlit night, with fireflies and a million stars closer than I ever thought possible. We conversed

foot eight, but she seemed somewhat on edge while talking to me. I knew there would be a passionate explosion if we ever got close together in a room alone. When we arrived at my apartment, she turned and looked at me in silence. I broke the silence by saying thanks for the ride and perhaps we could do this again and perhaps next time stop for coffee or a drink. I was just about to say good night and climb out of her car when she asked, “Do you mind if I come up and see your place tonight,

my life. I can’t say I remember how we came up with that name, but the group was great. We formed a partnership and began to set up concerts. When the group came to Los Angeles to rehearse, I hosted them in my West Los Angeles home. They slept in sleeping bags and on sofas, we cooked our own food, and rehearsed for days. The philharmonic quickly slid into the background of my musical world. In fact, it was difficult to concentrate on the philharmonic while the quintet was in town. In June of

welcome and by no means should I be afraid to be naked around her. She said as a dancer she was used to nude males. So I took a shower as Ann-Charlotte was preparing for a rather involved Swedish midsummer feast. She was cooking all sorts of fish and had bought many serious-looking bottles of schnapps, wine, and vodka. Later that evening, guests started arriving early and the drinking started straight away. Some of the most beautiful Swedish women arrived, talking loudly and excited about the

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