Post horn (Fr. cornet de poste; Ger. Posthorn; It. cornetta di postiglione)
- Anthony C. Baines
- , revised by David K. Rycroft
(Fr. cornet de poste; Ger. Posthorn; It. cornetta di postiglione)
A small brass instrument used in the past by postillions and guards on mail coaches to announce the arrivals and departures and to call attention en route. Small arcuate horns were so used in France, England and Germany up to the early 17th century when instruments began to be constructed in one very small coil barely 7 cm across with a fundamental about b♭′. In Johann Beer’s Concerto à 4 (manuscript, D-SWl ) it plays brisk figures on this note and its octave, similar to the references of Bach (Capriccio sopra la lontananza, 1704) and Telemann (‘Postillons’, Musique de table, 1733; borrowed by Handel in Belshazzar). Later in the 18th century German post horns were made with three turns and calls rose to the 6th or 8th harmonic, still including the octave leap, now at a slower tempo. The character of these calls is perhaps best known through those works of Mozart which require a horn player to take up the post horn: the Serenade ...