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Photographer's Note

The alphorn or alpenhorn or alpine horn is a labrophone, consisting of a natural wooden horn of conical bore, having a wooden cup-shaped mouthpiece, used by mountain dwellers in Switzerland and elsewhere. Similar wooden horns were used for communication in most mountainous regions of Europe, from French Switzerland to the Carpathians.


Swiss farmer calling his cattle in the Bernese OberlandFor a long time, scholars believed that the alphorn had been derived from the Roman-Etruscan lituus, because of their resemblance in shape, and because of the word liti, meaning Alphorn in the dialect of Obwalden. There is no documented evidence for this theory, however, and, the word liti was probably borrowed from 16th-18th century writings in Latin, where the word lituus could describe various wind instruments, such as the horn, the crumhorn, or the cornett. Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner used the words lituum alpinum for the first known detailed description of the alphorn in his De raris et admirandis herbis in 1555. The oldest known document using the German word Alphorn is a page from a 1527 account book from the former Cistercian abbey St. Urban near Pfaffnau mentioning the payment of two Batzen for an itinerant alphorn player from the Valais.

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Viewed: 2010
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Additional Photos by Robi rdfoto (rdfoto) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 27 W: 0 N: 96] (518)
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