Mobile phone of the Alps

Davos

Davos Wiesen

Davos Wiesen

Davos - Bolgen

Davos - Bolgen

Davos - Golfplatz / Dischma

Davos - Golfplatz / Dischma

Bergrestaurant JSCHALP Jakobshorn Davos

Bergrestaurant JSCHALP Jakobshorn Davos

Sommer-Schlittelbahn, Blick zur Strelaalp

Sommer-Schlittelbahn, Blick zur Strelaalp

Davoser Bergwelt

Davoser Bergwelt

Schatzalp Panorama-Restaurant

Schatzalp Panorama-Restaurant

Davos Platz - Jakobshorn

Davos Platz - Jakobshorn

Davos - Langlaufzentrum

Davos - Langlaufzentrum

Davos - Strelapass

Davos - Strelapass

Davos - St.Johann / Rinerhorn

Davos - St.Johann / Rinerhorn

Parsenn

Parsenn

Davos, Strelaalp

Davos, Strelaalp

Davos 180° Panorama mit Jakobshorn

Davos 180° Panorama mit Jakobshorn

Schatzalp / Schiahorn

Schatzalp / Schiahorn

Rinerhorn, blick auf Jakobshorn

Rinerhorn, blick auf Jakobshorn

Davos - Sky Views 4

Davos - Sky Views 4

Davos Dorf - Weissfluhjoch

Davos Dorf - Weissfluhjoch

Parsenn Weissfluhjoch, Klosters

Parsenn Weissfluhjoch, Klosters

Davos - Kirchlispitzen / Sulzfluh

Davos - Kirchlispitzen / Sulzfluh

Davos Platz - Schweizerische Alpine Mittelschule Davos

Davos Platz - Schweizerische Alpine Mittelschule Davos

Monstein 2

Monstein 2

Davos - Schatzalp-Bahn

Davos - Schatzalp-Bahn

Chalet Hotel Larix Davos, Jakobshorn

Chalet Hotel Larix Davos, Jakobshorn

Davos - Jakobshorn 2

Davos - Jakobshorn 2

Davos - Parsenn

Davos - Parsenn

Davos - Strelaberg

Davos - Strelaberg

Davos - Eisstadion

Davos - Eisstadion

Davos - Schatzalp Panorama Hotel

Davos - Schatzalp Panorama Hotel

Sertig

Sertig

Davos - Jakobshorn

Davos - Jakobshorn

Davos - Sky Views 3

Davos - Sky Views 3

Weissfluhjoch

Weissfluhjoch

Bergrestaurant Châlet Güggel Jakobshorn Davos

Bergrestaurant Châlet Güggel Jakobshorn Davos

View over Davos and the Swiss Mountains - Parsenn and Parsenn Cablecar

View over Davos and the Swiss Mountains - Parsenn and Parsenn Cablecar

The Alphorn is the quintessential Swiss national instrument. How this came about and what makes the Alphorn special comes to light when you listen to the Alphorn builder Beat Kollegger.

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MySwitzerland Where does Alphorn music come from? What is the basic idea? Beat Kollegger the exact origin of the Alphorn cannot be determined. The concept of the Alphorn was first mentioned in 1527 in the annals of St. Urban’s Monastery near Langenthal. It is clear: men have always blown horns in the alps, either made of wood, horn or bones. In earlier times the Alphorn was a signal and shepherd’s instrument – the mobile phone of the Alps, so to speak. This is how people communicated across the mountains and valleys, warned, and even announced Alpine blessings. The shepherds herded their cows with the Alphorn, or pacified them. This shows the peculiarity of the Alphorn music: it consists of 15 natural sounds. One of them, the famouns Alphorn Fa, can only be produced with the Alphorn. The sounds of the Alphorn touch human beings in the depth of their soul and can even elicit homesickness. That is why in the olden days it was forbidden to play the Alphorn in foreign military services. How did you become an Alphorn builder? One can’t really learn this profession - one just becomes an Alphorn player. I am a carpenter by trade and an instrument builder. Later on, I trained to become a musician and conductor. The combination of knowledge of wood and music is naturally ideal for building Alphorns. What does the Alphorn consist of and how is it built? There are three kinds of Alphorns: the normal, long horn, the short, bent “Büchel”, which is played primarily in Central Switzerland; and finally the Graubünden Oberland Tiba (pronounced “Tüba”) made from metal or glass. An Alphorn consists of three parts, a cup, a middle piece and an endpiece, also called handpiece. The cup is bent upwards so that the sounds are not played into the ground. The individual parts are plugged into each other, rubber rings are used to seal them – in former times tree bark or roots were used. An Alphorn in the tone of G is 3.4 meters long, and the one in F is 3.6 meters. We use exclusively “Moon wood” of local spruce and hazel spruce from the Albula Valley. Moon wood is cut during the correct position of the moon phase, shortly before the new moon. The knowledge about its extraordinary quality is ancient and it is today scientifically proven. What is particularly important when building an Alphorn? Each Alphorn builder has his own method. The knowledge is not actually passed on. I invest a lot of time and thinking in optimizing our Alphorns. Several factors are equally important. Mood, intonation and sound quality, thickness and conus, the selection of the wood and the scale of the instrument. We are the only people who build in a fine spring at the cup. An Alphorn is today cut with the help of computer-guided CNC milling machines. The rest is pure hand work, which means about 25 to 30 hours of work per instrument. How is the Alphorn played? And where? The Alphorn is played like a trumpet, with a round mouthpiece. It is therefore counted among the brass instruments, not among the wood instruments, although it is made from wood. Alphorn music can be heard at Yodeling and Alpine festivals, and also on First of August holidays or village and community festivals. Naturally, male and female Alphorn players also play in the open air. The Alphorn is played solo, in duets, trios, quartets or sextets. Which Alphorn music do you prefer? The melodious one. The Alphorn is today used not only as a nostalgic, traditional instrument, but also in rock, pop or jazz concerts. And since the 1970s it is used as a concert instrument. The professional Alphorn player Eilana Burki, for example, plays Jazz, Tango or Latin rhythms on her Alphorn. I think it’s great that the Alphorn has also entered the field of modern music. Although I personally like the classical, original melodies best. What kinds of people buy an Alphorn All those who enjoy natural sounds. Such as professional musicians, but also private persons, young and old. For instance, the clown Roli (Roli & Gaston) from Circus Nock is one of my customers and friends. How many Alphorns do you build in a year and what is the price for one? About 10 to 20. An Alphorn costs between 2,500 and 3,000 Swiss Francs. Do you sell your Alphorns abroad? Yes, to a certain extent. Just recently we were able to sell an Alphorn to the Swiss ambassador in Indonesia. But Switzerland is our main market. The best reference is certainly the quality of our instruments, the prices and, ultimately, honesty in business



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