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In preparation for a forthcoming exhibit of brass instruments, the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments is displaying these post horns as November’s instrument of the month.
The instruments are made of copper and brass which are soldered together into a single coil. These instruments are made in coiled form for carrying in the pocket.
The post horn is scored for in Mozart’s Serenade for Orchestra No. 9 in D Major, which was later nicknamed “Posthorn” for its short post horn solo in the second trio of the Minuetto movement. The post horn is also referenced in Schubert’s Die Post from Winterreise when the piano accompaniment includes a post horn-like fanfare. Also, in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in d minor, Mahler writes a solo part that is supposed to resemble the sound of the post horn. Today, that solo is often played on a Furst Pless post horn (which has rotary valves), Flugelhorn, or Trumpet.
Historically, post horns were used by postillons and guards on mail coaches to announce arrivals and departures and to call attention en route. Their continued appearance today as a post office emblem in many European countries testifies to the breadth of their former use. The stamp pictured above was featured in the MOPHILA International Stamp Exhibition in Hamburg (1985) for modern stamp collecting, or Moderne Philatelie, from which MOPHILA takes its name.
Come to 15 Hillhouse Avenue to view these two post horns in person. Or, visit our online Digital Collection to see our entire collection.