Paul Dukas wrote his Villanelle as a demanding exam piece for the horn class of the Paris Conservatoire in 1906. The title, referencing a cheerful traditional vocal genre that originated in 16th century Italy, already shows that it is by no means a dry etude. Alongside the technical challenges (stopped notes, fast scales, playing without valves using natural horn techniques), the piece is successful because of its refreshing melodies, for which reason the Villanelle is still one of the most popular performance pieces for the horn. For our Urtext edition we consulted the autograph as well as the first edition that was originally for horn and piano: the later version with orchestral accompaniment does not stem from the composer.
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