Works of Genius by Prodigies

The New York Philharmonic's
 Leelanee Sterrett is sure to impress on the virtuosic
Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1


Scored for two oboes, two horns, and strings, Symphony No.10 was written when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was 14, during his first journey to Italy. Hundreds of compositions later––from symphonies, concertos, and chamber music to operas and choral music––earned him the reputation as one of the greatest classical composers of all time. His influence in the years after his death at 35, was profound. Beethoven composed his early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Haydn wrote, “Posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.”

Raised with the sounds of his renowned father’s horn playing, it was inevitable that Richard Strauss explored the great potential of the horn as both a solo and orchestra instrument. Horn Concerto No. 1 is one of the most-demanding solo works for horn, using the highest and lowest notes in the instrument’s register, often in quick succession. With the opening notes, the solo horn is prominent with a heroic theme. In the more reflective second movement the soloist offers a gentler, more flowing theme. The final march-like movement returns to the heroic attitude from the first movement, with a flamboyant opening melody that sets an overall tone of high drama.

Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic era. In his short life of 31 years, he left behind more than 600 secular vocal works, seven symphonies, operas, incidental music, a large body of piano and chamber music and sacred music. (It is Schubert’s Ave Maria that is featured in Walt Disney’s Fantasia.) Symphony No. 4 wears Beethoven on its sleeve, more evidence of the great composer’s influence. Schubert later added the title “Tragic” to the work, though it’s not known why. Did he have a premonition of his own life being cut too short?

Leelanee Sterrett

A principal with the New York Philharmonic, Leelanee Sterrett is an alumna of Ensemble Connect, Carnegie Hall’s collective of young professionals and music advocates and serves on the horn faculties of Rutgers University and New York University.


Asked about her most inspiring composers, Sterrett replied, “Stravinsky, Ravel, and Richard Strauss. Their colors and harmonies are unlike anyone else’s, and they all wrote beautifully for horn.”

More about Ms. Sterrett on the New York Philharmonic website



January 15 2022


Mozart was 14 when he composed his Symphony No. 10
Strauss was 18 when he wrote his Horn Concerto No. 1

Schubert was 19 when he completed his Symphony No. 4

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