Frøydis Ree Wekre: Horn Guru

"Are you kidding? She’s the most famous horn player around! Don’t you know what she achieves with all her students?"

One of the many foreign horn students at the Norwegian State Academy of Music is incredulous when I ask why she has come to Norway. The reason is, naturally, Professor Frøydis Ree Wekre (1941), who has a world-famous name and a long list of merits as soloist, chamber musician and teacher. Of her countless students, getting on for a hundred are playing at a high professional level all over the world and innumerable others have been inspired at popular master classes in many countries. She has a varied musical background and holistic thinking is one of her greatest assets as a teacher.

Frøydis grew up in a musical family and began to sing and play the piano as a small girl before taking up the violin. Having played in several orchestras, including the Norwegian Broadcasting Junior Orchestra (the beginning of many a professional musical career), she was fascinated by the sound of the horn. She was also tempted by the idea of having her own voice in the orchestra. She found the variation in the horn’s role between exposure and pauses more attractive than the steady work of the string player. The protests of her parents inspired the necessary rebelliousness, and when someone told her it was particularly difficult to play the horn, her choice was clear! The 17-year-old paid for her own lessons and three years later made her début as a soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic, having already passed the audition for a permanent position with the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra immediately prior to her final school examinations. From 1961 to 1991 she played with the Oslo Philharmonic, where she rapidly advanced to the position of alternating solo horn.

This was before Norway had its own State Academy of Music. After taking private lessons in the Nordic countries, Frøydis went to study under Vitaly Boujanovsky in Leningrad. It was a formative experience. The Russian did not base his tuition on the student’s apparent ability, but on what the music demanded, and Frøydis was forced to stretch her talent to the limit. She subsequently studied in the USA. Americans find practical, technical solutions and are not bound by tradition. They keep going to a ripe old age. Frøydis also enjoys her role as a performer better as the years pass. Moreover, the US has a strong professional community. Good musicians are noticed without having to engage in intensive self-promotion.

Frøydis Ree Wekre took part in the fantastic rise of the Oslo Philharmonic under Mariss Jansons, whom she describes as a great orchestral teacher. Orchestras used to dare to invest in talent but today applicants must be experienced and orchestral studies are important. As a professor of horn and chamber music since 1991, she is highly involved in planning musical education. Her ideal is the “complete musician”, a description she well deserves herself. She has written numerous articles and believes that it should be as natural for a musician to update his professional skills as for a doctor. Her book “Thoughts on Playing the Horn Well” has been translated into Japanese, Czech, Latvian and German. Her role as a teacher has been important to her throughout her life. She has been offered professorates in several countries. One of the honours she appreciates most is the Lindeman Prize, which she received in 1986 for her contributions as a teacher. She still wants to progress. With Nordic colleagues, she has started the NORDHORNPED teaching group, whose activities include studying their own teaching on video.

Professor Frøydis, who likes people to call her by her first name, is much in demand as a soloist. She has also made a number of recordings, including two CDs of horn concertos and sonatas, all dedicated to her. After being a member of the International Horn Society for many years, she was recently elected its president. We congratulate the world’s horn players for choosing an extremely capable leader!

Translation: Virginia Siger ©
Printed in the music magazine Listen to Norway, Vol.7 - 1999 No. 2
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