Son of Till, for solo horn
by Paul Basler
Son of Till was written as a showcase piece for the virtuoso hornist. The title implies a humorous link to the celebrated figure in German myth, Till — a rambunctious, likable prankster (also, references to other famous “offspring” in popular culture, namely Son of Frankenstein and Son of Godzilla). The first movement is primarily concerned with a quick ascending gesture that travels through the better part of the horn’s range. Arioso Dreams conjures up images of nightmares, illusions and a demented form of Chinese water torture in which a single, short note (E-flat) appears regularly, sending the performer into even greater fits of demented athletic activity. The last movement “celebrates” our obsession with power tools, process music (minimalism) and mindless virtuosity for its own sake. Special effects abound throughout the work, including flutter tonguing, stopped horn and half-valve glissandi. Son of Till is dedicated to William Capps, one of Basler’s primary horn mentors and another possible “offspring” connection (the dreaded Son of Bill!).