Broumov Monastery alive with the sound of (French Horn) music

French Horn courses at Broumov Monastery

The centuries-old Benedictine monastery in the town of Broumov, near the Polish border, is alive with the sound of music. For the seventh time, the abbey is hosting International Horn Courses for a range of aspiring artists, from elementary schoolchildren to advanced students from conservatories around the globe.

More than 70 young horn players are attending the renowned courses in Broumov this week. Most are Czechs, but a couple dozen are hail from across Europe – and even as far afield as Japan.

“We call it a ‘horn’, but that’s slang. In Czech, the proper name for the instrument is Lesní roh.”

French Horn courses at Broumov Monastery | Photo: Jana Házová,  Czech Radio

The Summer Horn Courses grew out of the originally accompanying program of the Treasures of Broumov Festival – one of the largest music events in Europe.

Among the founders is Zuzana Rzounková, a soloist with the FOK Prague Symphony Orchestra who leads the local course for players of the “forest horn”, as the French Horn is known in Czech.

“Horn players from different countries come to Broumov to study with us intensely for a week. This year, of course, it is more complicated by the pandemic.

“We usually get 15 to 20 Japanese horn players. We’ve had players from Russia, Portugal, Italy and also America. This year, Poles and Austrians have also arrived.”

Lecturers from abroad have also arrived. Among them are Jörg Brückner from the Munich Philharmonic and Szabolcs Zempléni, a soloist from Hungary who works in Hamburg.

French Horn courses at Broumov Monastery | Photo: Jana Házová,  Czech Radio

For most foreign students, the language of instruction is English or German, says instructor Jindřich Petráš of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno.

“One of the participants I have here is a German, but she really likes to come to learn Czech. So, in this case, I speak all Czech. In any case, they certainly improve their playing.

“Today is actually the first day of the course, and we have the first chamber music rehearsal, which takes place every day. So, by Friday we will finish these songs and prepare them for the concert.”

In total, the student French Horn players will give six concerts, accompanied by the renowned Czech pianist Jana Goliášová. Over the week, they will perform in a number of historic spaces in and around the Broumov Monastery, including the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Vernéřovice.

The Broumov Monastery itself is quite a setting, having been restored to its full Baroque glory after being returned in restitution to the Order of Saint Benedict, who together with the Regional Development Agency organise cultural events year-round.