André Cazalet – First solo Horn at the Orchestre de Paris

André Cazalet
André Cazalet

Why did you choose the horn?

It is a choice: André Cazalet listened to symphonic music discs in his childhood with his parents and was fascinated by the instrument: “I’ll be a horn player”. Starting with piano studies at the Conservatory, it is only 10 years that he began to practice the instrument: “at the time there were no ‘little hand horns’”. It may be a step forward, but “when we see young people blowing on a horn with a dental appliance…”. He followed a classical course at the Paris Conservatoire (first) and was hired by the Ensemble intercontemporain. I would have well stayed there a few years more but the 1st solo Horn position became vacant at the Orchestre de Paris and he postulated in 1980 under the Barenboïm era (“I knew that the post wouldn’t available for years: I am still in!”). In addition he is a soloist and Professor at the Conservatoire de Paris, and gives numerous master classes around the world, to China recently.


André Cazalet is pleased to have remained at his position. On the one hand, the technical level of the Orchestra is considerably high since its creation, through successive recruitments. “The Orchestra has acquired an excellent reputation abroad, we have enjoyed great success in Vienna, or in Japan 2 years ago where we have been named best Orchestra visitor of the year”. On the other hand, as for most European orchestras, the position is doubled: if each of the two 1st horns provides around 60% of the concerts, this system allows however some flexibility in the management of his agenda for his other musical or academic activities. This would be not possible in an American Orchestra where the “chairs” are often sponsored and the sponsor clearly wait for “his” soloist to be playing…


He was able to play under the direction of the most prestigious conductors, at the top of which he cites for those missing, Giulini (“during a mass in b, I had the impression of having God before me”, Kubelík or Solti.). He is also very satisfied with the current Music Director, Paavo Järvi. The vast majority of guest conductors are excellent. If by chance a conductor is not, they “do the job” and simply ask to no longer invite him again. He said the best about the work of the artistic director of the Orchestra, Didier of Cottignies, who manages the best programming and proves sufficiently providing for example keeping one of the two assistants – currently Julien Masmondet and Andris Poga – during all rehearsals if there is a concern on the availability of the guest conductor. “Paris Orchestra never cancels» – it should be remembered that it is funded for two thirds by the State and by the city of Paris for the remaining third. He is a bit worried for their installation at the Philharmonic in January: without any fear for the acoustics of the new Parisian room, but the will public come to the northeast of Paris?

Instrument – Repertoire

His instrument was specially manufactured for him by the German Hans Hoyer factor with a sound “a little typed Central Europe” – If there are still many factors of horns for example in the USA, Great Britain and Germany, there aren’t any more in France since the cessation of production in Selmer, forty years ago. He is unable to answer the question “what are your favorite passages of the Symphonic repertoire?”: he has too many. In addition, he doesn’t care having to play almost exclusively tonic / dominant in some Haydn symphonies, for example: “this is a very good exercise”. He meets frequently, when touring for example, fellow Horn players around the world, all the more easily with age helping, many of them are his students… When I tell him my admiration for Pierre Badol heard in the part of Tristan Murail “memory / erosion” with the Court-circuit, he confirmed to me that he was one of his students…

Contemporary music

He spent an exceptional year in 1979 with Pierre Boulez as conductor with the Ensemble contemporain. He practices much less contemporary music now: “we lack a bit of ‘peps’ with age and it is a matter of generation: it was fantastic to work in a studio with for example Gérard Grisey or Michaël Lévinas and participate to their works creation.”It is also a matter of generation”. Finally, he quoted me the superb pictorial achievements of his Austrian friend Maria Tupay Duque: here . Leaving, he taells me about his many commitments for this summer: Aix, Festival Tibor Varga, Festival Pablo Casals, etc… A quick glance: André Cazalet is not on this video… but on this one with his colleagues of the Orchestre de Paris.

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