If you studied with Maxime Alphonse you would play a horn like this
Cor  à Pistons
Label (bell): Millereau
2nd valve and crook: (in oval)Millereau
Cor à Pistons (Ascending)
Serial Number:
Date of Manufacture:
F  (using G crook)
3 Périnet
Bell Flare:
Bell Throat:
Bell Diameter:
Base Metal:
silver plate (crook is raw brass)
Acquired from:
Prior to establishing himself as a brass instrument maker in Paris in 1861, François Millereau worked for Besson.  Within a year he was advertising Sax horns made under license and by 1873 he was offering a full line of woodwinds as well as brass instruments.  In 1878 he bought the patterns of Marcel AugusteRaoux from Jacques Christophe Labbaye.  Labbaye had bought the rights to the Raoux name and horn patterns twenty-one years earlier and had continued to make horns under that name.   Labbaye continued in the employ of Millereau. Millereau occupied rue d'Angoulême 66 from 1879 to 1911 so this horn could have been made any time during that period.

This is an "ascending" horn. That is to say, when the third valve is pressed, the pitch of the horn is raised a whole step instead of being lowered by a step- and-a-half (minor third) as is the case on most three-valve instruments. This is accomplished by reversing the usual function of the third valve piston. The open horn air path includes the tubing of the third valve slide. When the valve is pressed the valve slide tubing is bypassed, shortening the length of the air path, thereby raising the pitch of the horn. For this reason a G-crook is used, since the rest of the horn corpus is the length of a standard F horn. (Horn math: the G crook plus the third valve slide equals the length of a standard F crook, therefore the open horn is pitched in F.)

Michel Garcin-Marrou explains the advantages of this system as follows:

    In short, one can conclude without fear of error that the positive and original contribution of the ascending system is, through the use of the third valve, to have at one's disposition a horn in G and thus reach the higher notes of the the horn's range with greater facility. Those who have played a little natural horn or a single F horn know well the difference in response between an F crook and a G crook, and how very much preferable it is to play a high g'' on a G horn than a high a'' on an F instrument. This is a rather important detail when one considers the time when this system was put into practice and the added playing security in the medium and high registers that it brought to horn players of that age.
M. Garcin-Marrou is referring to the fact that the ascending system was invented by Antoine Halary in 1849 at the urging of his former teacher, Joseph mile Meifred, in 1849, thus preceding the invention of the F-Bb double horn by some fifty years.



The fingering chart for the ascending F horn is not significantly different from the standard (descending third valve) horn. In fact any fingerings using only the first or second valves alone or in combination remain valid although not necessarily preferred. Observe that the combination of first and third valve is never used on the ascending horn. (Why? Think about it.) Note also that some notes in the low register are not possible on the ascending F horn. For this reason horn makers offered both ascending and descending models. First and third ("high") horn players used the ascending horn, while second and fourth players used the descending horn, so as to have available the full lower range. The ascending system persisted in France throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Full double and compensating ascending piston valve double horns in F and Bb became the standard in France when they were finally overtaken by the larger bore rotary valve German models in the nineteen seventies.

A cut showing the ascending single F horn from the 1910 catalog of Herman Schoenaers who was Millereau's son-in-law and who took over the business in 1898.  

Maxime-Alphonse (1880 - 1930) is best known for his series of six method books, Enseignement du Cor à Pistons, Deux Cents Études Nouvelles, Mélodiques et Progressive en Six Cahiers published by Alphonse Leduc & Cie. Paris, from 1920 to 1924. He dedicated these etudes to Edouard Vuillermoz (1869 - 1936) who at that time was solo horn in Monte-Carlo. Very little is known about the life of Maxime-Alphonse. In fact, according to information found on a web blog. "Maxime-Alphonse" was actually a pseudonym. His full name was Jean Marie Maximin François Alphonse with "birth name" Griet and he was s born December 31, 1880 in Roanne (Loire). He studied with François Brémond at the Conservatoire de Paris, placing third in the concours in 1900 and taking the Premier Prix (tied with Catel) in 1903. The morceau de concours for that year was Concertstuck by Georges-Jean Pfeiffer (1835 - 1908) and it was also the first year that the valved horn became the official instrument at the Conservatoire. In his professional career he was solo horn of l'Opéra Comique and also in the Concerts Pasdeloup which had been re-formed in 1918 after an absence of more than twenty years.

Maxime-Alphonse, Deux Cents Études Nouvelles, 4e Cahier, p.4

Maxime-Alphonse gives the following instruction for this étude:
L'élève observera, s'il joue le Cor avec le 3e piston ascendent, les doigtés indiqué. Mais il devra également travailler des doigté ordinaires du Cor descendant, qui seront pour lui un bon travail de mécanisme.
Ibid., p.3

The student will observe, if he plays a horn with 3rd ascending third valve, the indicated fingerings But he should also work on the regular fingerings for the descending horn, which will be a good mechanical exercise for him.
Note that the third valve on a descending Bb horn produces the same harmonic series (G concert) as the third valve on an ascending F horn. Thus it is possible to play the above etude as intended by Maxime-Alphonse by substituting the third valve on the Bb side of the modern double horn wherever he indicates "3e (cor ascendant)."


Ericson, John. http://hornnotes.blogspot.com/2007/03/new-information-on-maxime-alphonse.html

Garcin-Marrou, Michel. "The Ascending Valve System in France", The Horn Call, v.XXXii, n. 2. The International Horn Society, February 2002.

Kampmann, Bruno, ed. Larigot Nr. 11. Paris: l'Association des Collectioneurs d'Instruments à Vent, September 1992,

Maxime-Alphonse. Deux Cents Études Nouvelles, 4eCahier. Paris: Alphonse-Leduc & Cie., 1920.

Rekward, Susan J. The horn at the Paris Conservatoire and Its Morceaux de Concours to 1996, Master of Arts Thesis. Denton, Tx: University of North Texas, 1997.

Stoullig, Edmond. Les Annales du Théatre et de la Musique. Paris: Librairie Paul Ollendorff, 1901 and 1903.

Waterhouse, William. The New Langwill Index. London: Tony Bingham, 1993

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