Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sex Sells?

No, horn sells!

Recently an eBay auction was brought to my attention by my fellow vintage clothing diva and hornist Anna Newman. (Yes, she plays the French horn and is a vintage clothing dealer...the odds of that?) Included in the auction were a musician’s union booklet and card, along with a picture of a woman horn player.

The date on the card is 1910. I watched this auction with fascination because the photo is an unusual one: Rare was the woman horn player in the early 20th century! The winning bid on this auction was a surprisingly high $369, which gave me an idea...

I had a dress to sell with a print featuring some unusual musical instruments (I could see lutes and opheclides, along with some mysterious horn-like specimens).

I decided if one woman holding a horn could earn the seller $369, why not give it a whirl with this dress?

Then the auction with my horn as prop was pointed out on a hornlist, where the membership decided I must actually be a horn player by the way I was holding the horn. Who should see this, but a woman horn player, Ellen Manthe, who won the dress!

As I’ve said before, women brass players have been relatively rare until fairly recently, and even now are not as well represented as they ought to be in major orchestras and as soloists. This was one topic of my master’s degree research. The woman holding a horn ca. 1910 is a rare and wonderful find--it gives me joy to see this vintage horn playing sister of mine. Kudos to the winner of the auction!

Many thanks to my friend Susan, who came up with the "Sex sells? No, HORN!"

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