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Borletti-Buitoni Trust

Having a Fellowship is really exciting. I feel BBT has enabled my horn playing to go to new places. It's not just a question of logistical or financial support with each project but also about their belief in me and what an artist can do. As such it is a wonderful gift; a liberating experience.

Alec Frank-Gemmill"
Horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill is recognised internationally for the exceptional breadth and depth of his music-making. Principal Horn of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he divides his time between concertos, recitals, chamber music and orchestral playing. A proponent of the historical natural horn as well as of the modern instrument, his repertoire stretches from the baroque era to the latest contemporary compositions.

Alec has appeared as soloist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker and Sinfonietta Köln. He also regularly performs concertos with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra – their recording of Weber’s Concertino on Linn met with great critical acclaim.

Artist in Residence at the 2013 Lammermuir Festival, Alec made his Wigmore Hall debut that same year. He has gone on to perform as a soloist in numerous festivals including Spitalfields, Ryedale, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and St. Magnus. Alec will return to Wigmore Hall three times 2015/16 - for a solo recital, as part of a trio, and with the period instrument group Ensemble Marsyas.

Having himself studied in Cambridge, London and Berlin, Alec was recently appointed Professor of Horn at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is the recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship 2014 and is a member of the BBC New Generation Artists scheme.

"A phenomenon with a tone of golden purity, wraparound warmth and ecstatic afterglow." Financial Times

"A stunning performance... Alec Frank-Gemmill made the instrument dart, wail and flutter as if those were normal things for a French horn to do." The Herald

"I especially enjoyed Alec Frank-Gemmill's cheeky handling of the runs and decorations in the Horn Concertino." Gramophone

Photographs by Jen Owens, Andy Saunders

  • Showcase at IAMA Conference April 2014, Milton Court, Barbican, London
  • Purchase of concert clothes
  • Participation in Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Junge Elite Bothmer Musik July 2015
  • Two recordings for BIS Records: A Noble and Melancholy Instrument (2017) and Before Mozart - Early Horn Concertos (2018)
  • Wednesdays at Wilton's (24 June 2015)
  • Four insight films on period horns
  • New photos
Before Mozart - Early Horn Concertos

Before Mozart - Early Horn Concertos

Neruda: Horn Concerto in E flat i Allegro (excerpt)

Förster:Horn Concerto [No 1] in E flat ii Largo (excerpt)

L Mozart: Sinfona da Camera (Sinfonie in D) iv Allegro (excerpt)

Haydn: Horn Concerto No 1 in D iii Allegro (excerpt)

Alec Frank-Gemmill takes another interesting journey of discovery into early horn repertoire. Imagination, style and virtuosity are his companions, along with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan. Composers include Mozart’s father, a neglected Haydn and a Neruda rarity of extreme virtuosity.

Alec Frank-Gemmill horn
Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Nicholas McGegan conductor

Förster Horn Concerto [No 1] in E flat
Telemann Horn Concerto in D, TWV51:D8
Neruda Horn Concerto No1 in E flat
Leopold  Mozart Sinfonia da Camera (Sinfonie in D major, VII:D5)
Haydn Horn Concerto No 1 in D, Hob.VIId:3

BIS SACD 2315 |

Supported by Borletti-Buitoni Trust

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The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument

The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument

Beethoven: Horn Sonata Op 17 - 3 Allegro moderato (start) *

Schumann: Adagio und Allegro Op 70 (start) **

Rossini: Prelude, Theme and Variations (excerpt) †

Dukas: Villanelle (start) ¶

Matching four period horns with four period pianos, Alec Frank-Gemmill surveys the 19th-century horn repertoire with an exciting new perspective.  Actually it’s over 100 years of music played on instruments each composer would have recognised, from Beethoven to Gilbert Vinter, with Schumann, Rossini, Franz Strauss, Saint-Saëns, Glazunov and Dukas in between.

Watch five films about the project and each of the four horns here.

Nominated for a 2018 BBC Music Magazine Award

Alec Frank-Gemmill horns
Alasdair Beatson pianos

Beethoven Horn Sonata Op 17 *
Schumann Adagio und Allegro **
Franz Strauss Nocturno Op 7 **
Rossini Prelude, Theme and Variations
Saint-Saëns Romance Op 67 †
Glazunov Rêverie Op 24

Dukas Villanelle
Vinter Hunter’s Moon

* Cor d’orchestre, Lucien Joseph Raoux, Paris c 1800
   Salvatore Lagrassa piano c 1815, Palermo
** Weinerhorn, end of 19th century
     jean Baptiste Streicher piano, Vienna, 1847
Cor solo, Marcel Auguste Raoux, Paris 1823
   Julius Blüthner piano, Leipzig 1867
Cor à pistons, Victor Charles Mahillon, Brussels early 20th century
   Carl Bechstein piano, Berlin 1898

BIS SACD 2228 |

Supported by Borletti-Buitoni Trust

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Alec Frank-Gemmill records his debut disc for BIS

For his first major project using his BBT Fellowship 2014 money, horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill broke new ground in matching four period horns with four period pianos for his debut recording for BIS.  The logistics of getting all eight instruments together in one place for the recording in Cologne in January 2016 was only the start for an invigorating musical voyage of discovery with pianist Alasdair Beatson.  Taking its title from a typically astute comment by Hector Berlioz (otherwise not included on the disc), the BIS recording The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228) is out Spring 2017 and BBT filmed Alec and Alasdair as they recorded the disc.


Alec Frank-Gemmill introduces Beethoven’s Cor d’orchestre

At the start of his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill introduces the Cor d’orchestre natural horn made by Lucien Joseph Raoux in Paris c 1800.  Alec played this horn on his recording of Beethoven’s Horn Sonata Op 17 for his BIS debut disc The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228).  This is the first of four Insight films, each featuring one of the four horns used for the recording, which were matched with four period pianos, played by Alasdair Beatson.


Alec Frank-Gemmill introduces the Cor solo

Continuing his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill turns to the Cor solo he uses for Saint-Saëns’ Romance Op 67 on his BIS debut recording, with pianist Alasdair Beatson: The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228).  Made by Marcel Auguste Raoux in Paris in 1823, Alec compares this solo instrument to the cor d’orchestre he uses for Beethoven’s Horn Sonata Op 17 (see film 1) and offers an insight into practical difficulties in pitching certain notes on the instrument.


Alec Frank-Gemmill turns to Vienna and the Wienerhorn’s pumpenvalve

Continuing his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill takes the story on to Vienna, where the pumpenvalve instruments are still used today in the Vienna Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras.  The instrument Alec plays, on his BIS debut disc The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228), was made by Erste Wiener Productiv-Genossenschaft der Musik-Instrumentenmacher at the end of the 19th century.  His chosen repertoire is Franz Strauss’ Nocturno and Schumann’s Romance.


Alec Frank-Gemmill rounds off his 19th-century horn suvrey with the Cor à pistons

Concluding his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill turns from Viennese pumpenvalve to the British and French Cor à pistons; in the shape of an early 20th century instrument made by Victor Charles Mahillon, Brussels. Illustrated by excerpts from Dukas’ Villanelle, as featured on his BIS debut disc The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228), Alec describes the horn’s versatility in marrying virtuosity when using the pistons and the ability (without pistons) to hark back to the natural horn.


Alec Frank-Gemmill plays Saint-Saëns’ Morceau de Concert with Eleanor Johnston at Wednesdays at Wilton’s
BBT 2014 fellowship winner Alec Frank-Gemmill plays Camille Saint-Saëns’ Morceau de Concert Op. 94 for horn and piano as transcribed and played by harpist Eleanor Johnston at the final BBT Wednesdays at Wilton’s on 24 June 2015


Alec Frank-Gemmill and Eleanor Johnston’s Wednesdays at Wilton’s Blog
BBT 2014 fellowship winner Alec Frank-Gemmill and Eleanor Johnston battle with noises off as they explain their unusual combination of horn and harp and the intricacies of finding the repertoire for this intimate recital in Wilton’s Music Hall’s Cocktail Bar.


BBT award and fellowship winners consider the pros and cons of purpose-built concert halls and other venues
How does a symphony orchestra sound in a car park? Or is it best appreciated in specially-built halls? BBT stirs the ongoing debate surrounding the idea of taking classical music out of the concert hall to imaginative and often unusual venues. Does this help cultivate new audiences? Younger audiences? Or does it compromise the music? Is taking down the barriers opening a pathway to more people enjoying classical music? Is the ultimate aim to get them into a concert hall?

These questions are addressed by a representative sample of Borletti-Buitoni Trust award and fellowship winners as they take their careers not only into new repertoire but new venues. See what ATOS Trio, Erik Bosgraaf, Alec Frank-Gemmill, Bram van Sambeek, Sean Shibe, Mark Simpson, Kate Whitley and others have to say.

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