Thursday, May 1, 2014

Of Horns and Hounds

I have been charmed to learn of the presence in Mozart’s music of the Basset Horn—which turns out to be not dissimilar to its name-relative, the Basset Hound. 

A check of the etymology gives me “early 17th century:  from French, diminutive of bas ‘low,’ from medieval Latin bassus ‘short.’”

And indeed the horns, like the dogs, are low and squat in tone, amiable and homely, ears (if they had them) long and flopping as they amble in a little bit lopsided way along.  Seeming mournful, but sweet-tempered and affectionate.  Devoted.  Tenacious on the scent of a rabbit—or a line of melody.

In short, a current favorite.

Image:  Basset Hound, Bonnie van den Born


  1. oh! i had no idea of the horn. how interesting. now i want to hear one.
    i do however have memories of a very dear bassett once upon a time in my life.
    stand clear when she drank. because her jowls held at least two cups and after a nice long drink ... yes.
    head shaking! ears flying and two cups of bassett water!
    and the gait ... i never tired of walking behind her.
    it was the cross between marilyn monroe and elmer fudd.

  2. I'd love to have met Penelope—though now I feel as if I have. What a great description.