Project Description

William Hopson has been a French Horn player in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra since 1977. He acquired his first Alphorn in 1982 and he has dedicated much of his professional life to that instrument. He is widely regarded as the finest Alphorn soloist of his generation. In his travels he has introduced the music of the Alphorn to audiences in North America, Europe and Asia. As a champion of the music of Swiss composer Jean Daetwyler, he has performed “Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra” with many orchestras, receiving in every case an enthusiastic ovation from the audience.

In November of 2000, for a tour of Central Europe with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, he performed an encore version of the Daetwyler concerto in seven cities, including Innsbuck, Montreux, Biel / Bienne, St. Gallen, Zurich, Basel and Geneva. He received many curtain calls, and the reviews were universally enthusiastic, including:

“The CPO bewitched the audience with the thrilling encore…..”{Kronen Zeitung, Innsbruck}

“…a surprising musical treat that was perfectly rendered.”{Basell and Schaftliche Zeitung}

“… an outstanding performance with full and gentle tones….. Naturally, this Hommage á la Suisse sent the audience into raptures.”{St. Gallener Nachrichten}

“[the encore] was performed by the orchestra’s own horn player, on a dazzling instrument of his own make.” {Thurgauer Blatt, Zurich}

William Hopson now spends a good part of his summers in Europe, where he performs in many Alphorn concerts and teaches at the Swiss Alphorn School in Gstaad, Switzerland and the Bregenzer Alphorn Seminar in Bregenz, Austria. His solo performances at the 1997 Berner Kantonal Festival in Switzerland earned the following accolade:

“He plays perfect Alphorn. His performance was of such a singularly refreshing nature…..He amazed his audience with his playing. Wonderful, music of a very, very high standard.” {Berner Zeitung}

Combining his talents as a craftsman and a musician, he founded Rocky Mountain Alphorns to hand build a limited edition of superior instruments for professional Horn players and discriminating enthusiasts. His Alphorns feature beautifully carved and painted artwork and are often trimmed with the stunning hardwoods he gathers from every corner the globe. William Hopson performs and records on a Rocky Mountain Alphorn made from Canadian Sitka Spruce with Hawaiian Koa Wood highlights.

William Hopson has three children: Jim, Eric and Sophie.

For more information about William Hopson, his Alphorns and his performing career, see his website at:http://www.alphorn.ca/.

Who do you think are or were the masters of your instrument?
Two classical era Horn players come to mind. Mozart wrote several wonderful Horn Concerti for his friend Ignaz Leutgeb (1745-1811), and Mozart and Beethoven wrote beautiful music for Giovanni Punto (1746-1803), who was the greatest Horn player of his generation.

For my taste, the composers Wolfgang Mozart, Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms wrote best for the horn. The horn is known to be the favorite instrument of the Romantic composers, but the real golden age for the Horn was the Classical era. The horn was developing quickly from its origin as a hunting instrument. The noble class was competing for the best Horn players; for their hunting forays, for their salon concerts, and for their orchestras. Through the classical era, horn players were the best paid of instrumentalists, and horn players traveled through Europe as the rock stars of the day. It is said that Giovanni Punto played a solid silver horn, and when he returned to his native Prague at the end of his career, the people lined the streets cheering. That was not a bad accomplishment for the son of a woodcutter.

Do you play in any groups/ensembles outside of the orchestra?
Every summer I travel to Europe to perform concerts on Alphorn. Most of the concerts are for Alphorn and Organ in magnificent churches. I also play at a lot of Swiss Alphorn festivals.