Sometimes, when listening to orchestral music, I find myself waiting for an English horn solo.

-Grigory Smirnov

I read it here, in an article about Julliard and young composers. Now I want to hear some of their music!

The quote made me laugh. But not because it was ridiculous or anything. Only because i wanted to reply, “Yep, that’s usually what the English horn player is doing too! Just waiting. And waiting. For the solo.”

(I wish I could find a video of Mr. Smirnov’s English horn piece. So far I’ve not found anything, and I can’t tell if the other pieces I’ve found are by this Smirnov. Perhaps, if he reads this, he can share some of his music with us!)

English horn players do a lot of sitting around before some whopping big solo. I realize that the other musicians are working incredibly hard while we sit (some have been known to talk to me about my earning too much for what I do), but what the English horn player has to do is deal with the huge fear factor of TheLongWait™.

I was recently listening to Renee Fleming, Susan Graham and Thomas Hampson talking. They all know it’s the wait that’s the worst! Once you’re up there and doing it, well, then you’re just in it and dealing. But the waiting … there isn’t anything like that! We all have to deal with that. It’s just that the English hornist frequently has to do it not only the entire day of a performance, but during the performance as well! It’s an interesting life.


  1. What a great conversation! The comment on belonging, having ‘arrived': I remember the first time I subbed in San Francisco (young, naive…) walking onto the stage at the Opera House and thinking, “Yes! I’ve done it!”


    But the best advice in the world: do what you do the best you can. That’s really all you can do…

    Thanks for another gem, Patty. This one goes in my obligatory viewing for students file.

  2. Dear Patty, thanks for the interest in the piece!

    Here is some music:

    The English horn piece is composed in quite a different style though. It has yet to be premiered soon, but hopefully a recording will be available sometime later.

  3. Thanks for the link! I’ll be sure and check out your work! :-)