Woodcut: Alphorn Blower Begging or Busking

What's Happening

New: The Alphorn Seminar in Catalonia

We are announcing a new Alphorn Seminar in Catalonia, Spain. The dates are Saturday, June 29th to Saturday, July 6th, 2019. The Seminar will be held at the Pozzo de Sol Resort. Pozzo de Sol is about halfway between Barcelona and Valencia. It is located in a beautiful setting - an olive grove above the delta of the River Ebro and a short drive from the Mediterranean Sea. Fine Catalonian Wine and delicious Catalonian cuisine will be a feature of the Seminar. The Alphorn teachers at the Seminar will be William Hopson and Gilbert Kolly. For more information please email the program organizer, Mike Mitchell.

Alphornseminar Diemtigtal

In the summer of 2019 William Hopson will be teaching and performing at the Diemtigtal Alphornseminar in Diemtigtal, Switzerland. This is a continuation of the Bregenzer Alphornseminar previously held in Bregenz, Austria.

The seminar will begin on Thursday, July 18th and end on Sunday, July 21st. The course will offer individual instruction on the Alphorn as well as group instruction and performances. The teachers at the course will be William Hopson, Frances Jones, Dominik Ziorjen and Sami Loertscher. This seminar will be a wonderful opportunity to learn about the Alphorn, to make friends and to experience a very beautiful part of the Berner Alps. Plans are currently under development for the seminar - for the most up to date information, see the Alphornseminar Diemtigtal website or contact Daniel Pfenninger (the seminar organizer) or William Hopson. Daniel speaks perfect English and questions about seminar activities, scheduling and registration are best directed to him.

North American Alphorn Retreat

2008 was the inaugural year of the North American Alphorn Retreat at the Solitude Resort, high in the Rocky Mountains above Salt Lake City, Utah. It has been a fine success every summer since then. The dates for the 2018 North American Alphorn Retreat are Wednesday, August the 8th to Saturday, August the 11th. This course is highly recommended and all North American Alphorn blowers are encouraged to come.

The instructors at the Alphorn Retreat: William Hopson, Tony Brazelton, Brian Priebe and Jim Hopson, have a wide range of experience playing the Alphorn in North America and in Switzerland.

Players of all ability levels, from beginners to experienced Alphorn blowers, are welcome. An important part of the program will be practicing and performing in various Alphorn ensembles. The music will be traditional Alphorn music and some modern Alphorn music as well. This will be a great way to learn about Alphorn performance, Alphorn history and Alphorn traditions, and to meet some of the other Alphorn blowers in North America. There are activities in the area for people of all ages and we encourage participants to bring their families along. We are sure to have a wonderful time in addition to the Alphorn experience.

For more information see the North American Alphorn Retreat website or email the program leader Tony Brazelton at tony@salzburgerecho.com.

Swiss Alphorn School

William Hopson teaches every summer at The Swiss Alphorn School in Schönried, Switzerland. Schönried is high in the Swiss Alps near the resort city of Gstaad. This summer William Hopson will teaching at the Week-long Course "Alphorn Days" from Saturday July 6th to Saturday July 13th, 2018. The Swiss Alphorn School The week-long course has approximately twenty students and two well qualified teachers.

The courses include private lessons, ensemble coaching and a chance to perform at the end of the session. There is always plenty of cameraderie and cultural exchange, and of course the fine food and drink that comes with the famous Swiss hospitality. Most of the participants are German speaking, but the majority of them are comfortable in English as well. All of the teachers speak English.

The Swiss Alphorn School offers other courses as well. The weekend course is also a summer course. It is much smaller (with only fifteen students and two teachers) and is held at the excellent Guesthouse Hornfluh, in a postcard setting high atop a ridge in the Alps. There is also a Fall Swiss Alphorn School course offered in September/October.

The Swiss Alphorn School has a wonderful reputation in Switzerland and is known throughout the world. For more details about the Swiss Alphorn School and how to enroll in the school, please email Fritz Frautschi at info@alphornatelier.ch.

We have a new feature on our website: We are now offering sound samples from selected tracks on our compact discs. To enjoy this feature go to our
Rocky Mountain Alphorns Compact Discs webpage. You can click the orange button below for a quick sample, and remember to turn on your computer speakers.

The "Luzerner Hinterlander"  (sound sample: 0:55)   

William Hopson has published a collection of the best solo Alphorn music that he has composed over the last five years. The collection is called "Arioso - Eight Expressive Melodies for Solo Alphorn". Six of the melodies are recorded by William Hopson on his Rocky Mountain Alphorns compact discs. The music is very romantic and enjoyable to play, and is highly recommended for any Alphorn blower with a moderate to advanced technique. The music is published with great attention to musical detail, enhanced by the precision of the latest Finale music publishing software. The collection is available in both English and German editions. For a more comprehensive description of the music, and for ordering information, please go to the Alphorn Music page of this website.

An important article has been published by the Swiss Society of Ethnomusicology. The title of the article is "On Swissness in Alphorn Performance". The author of the article is Charlotte Vignau.

Out of respect for the copyright priviledges of the author we cannot publish this fine article here in its entirety. Ms. Vignau is an ethnomusicologist and a keen observer of the Alphorn. She has much to say about Swiss authenticity in Alphorn performance today. There is much here about the original Swiss style of Alphorn playing from the alpine regions, the shepherd and cowherds that are the basis of that tradition, and the importance of expressive freedom, naturalism and landscape in the ideal of Alphorn blowing. This article is highly recommended. To read the entire article click on On Swissness in Alphorn Performance and scroll down to page 57.

The third part of this article, "Imagine Being a Shepherd - on Authenticity", discusses the direction of the alpine style of Alphorn playing. The important Swiss Alphorn blowers Hans-Jürg Sommer, Emil Frei and Gilbert Kolly describe William Hopson's approach to the Alphorn and his position in the Swiss Alphorn community with regard to the question of "Swissness". To read this part of the article click on (same link as above) Imagine Being a Shepherd - On Authenticity and scroll down to page 65.

The Pastoral Life Compact Disc Orders are now being taken for William Hopson's latest compact disc, "The Pastoral Life". For this CD he collaborates with Organist Jamie Syer, performing on the lyric Organ in Grace Presbyterian Church as well as the grand Organ located in Knox United Church. Hopson and Syer are joined by Flutist Lauren Eselson for the featured trio, "Alpine Folksong Suite" by Jean Daetwyler. Also included are several traditional melodies recorded in the wonderful natural acoustics of Lyric Lake in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. With music by composers Jean Daetwyler, Hans-Jürg Sommer, Charles Conord, William Hopson, A. L. Gassmann and R. Eichhorn, this compact disc offers the most eclectic program of music that is available on any Alphorn recording; from the conservative tradition of the ancient folk melodies to a cool blues quartet.

For information about all of William Hopson's compact discs, and ordering information for "All is Well in the Valley", please click on Rocky Mountain Alphorns Compact Discs.


William Hopson has enjoyed great success in performance as an Alphorn soloist with many symphony orchestras. A full promotional package can be forwarded to any orchestra considering such a symphonic program. The package will include a compact disc recording of William Hopson performing "Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra" by Jean Daetwyler and "Alphorn Ballade" by Dennis Armitage. . Recorded "live in concert" with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, this disc reveals in clear and unambiguous terms the strength of this orchestral program. For reviews of William Hopson's symphonic programs, see Reviews and Commentary. Please scroll down for a full description of William Hopson's symphonic program. For booking inquiries please contact William Hopson.


"Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra" by Jean Daetwyler (1907-1994)

"Alphorn Ballade" by Dennis Armitage (b. 1928)

PROGRAM NOTES: Jean Daetwyler: "Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra"

The archaeological record of the Alphorn stretches back nearly two thousand years to the Celtic tribes that originally settled the rugged land on the northern slopes of the Alps. Woodcut Image: Boy Blows his Alphorn at Milking TimeSince ancient times the Alphorn has sounded as a part of the daily activities of the shepherds and cowherds of these mountain people. The Alphorn was used to calm the dairy cows at milking time. It was the twilight signal for the flocks of sheep to settle in for the night as the shepherds exchanged melodies across the valleys. Such melodies became ritual signals for "All is Well in the Valley". The sound of the Alphorn called the people to gather for council and the men to gather for war. It was a musical voice for local celebrations and festivals. In his "Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra" the Swiss composer Jean Daetwyler celebrates the Alphorn as the lyrical voice of his alpine people.

The music describes the simple life of a shepherd in the Valasian Alps. In the first movement, "Betruf" (Prayer Song), the Alphorn is the voice of the shepherd praying for the safety of his flock. The orchestra voices the natural forces of the surrounding Alps, both friendly and malevolent. The Scherzo movement, "Hirtentanz" (Herdsman's Dance), is an exuberant and sometimes awkward shepherds' dance. This is the rustic dancing of men with mud on their boots, and perhaps even a bellyfull of wine. The "Pastorale" (Country Life) movement is an expansive view of the Alps. Sounds of wind and weather punctuate the traditional signals of the Alphorn. These melodies are hundreds of years old; passed down from shepherd father to shepherd son. The closing movement, "Totentanz" (Dance of Death) is a frenzied dance that is still celebrated in many Valasian towns. Dancers wear masks which represent death as a symbol of the shepherds' simple and acceptant philosophy in an often harsh environment. Listen for the chilling flutter-tongue technique in the Alphorn, which describes the mask of death.

Jean Daetwyler was born in the Swiss city of Basel in 1907. He studied composition and conducting at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1938 he settled in the Swiss city of Sierre (Canton Valais), and for the rest of his life he contributed greatly to the musical life of this region as a composer, conductor, choir director and church organist. His "Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra" was written in 1970. He died in Sierre in 1994.


Friends and Alphorn Enthusiasts,

I am currently booking dates for Alphorn performances, including:

The Alphorn is an instrument with a long and fascinating history. The best Alphorn music is the traditional music that has been passed down through the long centuries from shepherd father to shepherd son. This is my favourite music to perform, and I prefer to include in any performance an explanation of the history and folklore of the Alphorn. The clothing that I wear for performances can be in either of two authentic styles; the traditional Swiss Mutzli Jacket (from the Canton Berne) or Bavarian wild goatskin Lederhosen (with loden jacket) from Munich.

I champion the music of the Swiss composer Jean Daetwyler, including "Concerto No. 1 for Alphorn and Orchestra" and "Suite Montagnarde" for Alphorn and Organ. Jean Daetwyler's naturalistic and lyrical music reveals his love of the Alphorn and his knowledge of its many expressive moods. The concerto is a wonderful showpiece for the instrument; a sure hit for your concert hall or for your outdoor summer music festival stage. An enthusiastic audience response is guaranteed. Please call or e-mail for further information.

William Hopson

Cigar Case by Rocky Mountain Alphorns And now for something new and completely different:

With the same remarkable craftsmanship that he uses to make his Rocky Mountain Alphorns, William Hopson is now making cigar cases for the most discriminating of cigar smokers. These cases are made from the same exotic hardwoods that he uses to make his Alphorns; hardwoods from around the world that are treasured for their beauty and rarity. For more details see our new Cigar Cases by Rocky Mountain Alphorns page on this website.

This project began as a way to use the smaller pieces of the very valuable hardwoods that were leftover from the Alphorn making process. The results were stunning, and the project has now taken a life of its own.

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