The award-winning young horn player Felix Klieser – who was born without arms and works the keys of his instrument with his toes rather than finger as it usually is the case.
Considered one of the best horn players in the world, Klieser expressed a desire to play the instrument at age four. And despite the presence of a physical handicap and suggestions from the local music school to try a recorder or xylophone instead, nothing other than a horn would satisfy the young Klieser.
And while most horn players influence the sound color by inserting a hand into the bell mouth, Felix Klieser developed alternative techniques – by controlling the air flow, the shape of the mouth cavity and the lips.
Although Germany’s newspaper Die Welt declared Felix Klieser ‘an absolutely exceptional talent’, he himself plays down that factor and cites hard work and force of will as the key to his success. “Unfortunately, I am not blessed with natural ability. Maybe I chose the horn because I thought if I can master that, I can master anything,” says Klieser. And his handicap hasn't kept him from the upper echelons of classical music. In 2014 he received the ECHO Klassisk for young artist of the year and now he has won the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award 2016.
In 2015, Klieser released an album with Haydn and Mozart both of which will be performed at the upcoming concert in the University aula. “The classical horn concertos have accompanied me for a long time. Ever since I started playing the instrument as a child, I used to listen to them all the time. But to try to play them myself was a real challenge. Sometimes I reached the point at which I put the music back at the bottom of the drawer, only to fetch it out again the next day and give it another try. Love at first sight is one thing, but love that grows gradually is much more intense!” exclaims Klieser.
The first of Haydn's two horn concertos calls for the high-register horn, the second was composed for its lower-tone counterpart. Horn players generally specialize in one or the other of the instruments – and Klieser met the challenge of playing both on one disc, and did it brilliantly too.
Mozart’s horn concerto in E flat major is presumably the first of the surviving four horn concertos Mozart wrote for his horn-playing friend Joseph Leutgeb. “ I have always been impressed by the many coincidences in life and by their impact. And it is presumably owing to Mozart’s friendship that he wrote so much for the horn, and who can imagine what would have happened if it hadn’t been for that friendship” says Klieser who makes a compelling case for this virtuosic piece.
After our concert in Oslo on October 5th in University aula in which Klieser appears as a soloist, we embark on a European tour to Stuttgart, Germering, Warsawa og Stettin. In addition to the two horn concertos, we will be presenting our very own version of Grieg’s Holberg’s suite and Schoenberg’s Verklärte nacht from memory.