Launceston instrument collector helps TSO bring authentic touch to Vienna concert

Nicholas Reaburn, who is a Director at the Launceston law firm Rae & Partners, loves to play the French Horn in his spare time.

But not only does he play the instrument, he has amassed a small French Horn collection including two rare antique Vienna Horns which will be played by musicians from the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra at the Night in Vienna concert at Albert Hall this Saturday night, 29 November.

It is remarkable that Launceston is home to these two remarkable instruments, which are well over a hundred years old having been made by hand in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Vienna French Horns are in a category all their own and are quite unlike ordinary French Horns in their construction – their mechanism is the reverse of that on an ordinary horn – and in their sound.

The Vienna Horn has a warmer and more mellow sound than a regular horn, but it can also be trickier to play and you really have to take care not to split notes in the higher register.

Wendy Page, Principal Horn with the TSO

“It’s really generous of Nick Reaburn to have loaned these two Vienna instruments to the TSO for our Vienna concert, which will consist of Strauss waltzes, polkas, marches and the like.

“The horns will bring an authentically Viennese touch to the evening.”

Interestingly, the two antique Vienna Horns in Nicholas Reaburn’s collection are not identical.

Wendy Page will be playing a horn made by Leopold Uhlmann, who was the official instrument maker to the Austro-Hungarian crown, while her TSO colleague, Jules Evans, will be playing an instrument made by another Viennese maker, Anton Dehmal.

The world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra uses Vienna Horns but other orchestras, including the TSO, normally use standard, non-Vienna instruments.

The sound of the Vienna Horn is unique,” said Nicholas Reaburn, “so I am delighted that the TSO will be putting my instruments to use.”

Nicholas Reaburn keeps up his own skills as a horn player by performing in the City of Launceston Philharmonic Orchestra and the UTAS Wind Orchestra.