Giovanni Punto

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Giovanni Punto (born Jan Václav Stich) (September 28, 1746, Žehušice, Czechia – February 16, 1803, Prague, Czechia) was a Czech horn player (more correctly, he played the cor basse) and a pioneer of the hand-stopping technique which allows natural horns to play a greater number of notes.

He was an international celebrity in the 18th and early 19th centuries, known in London, Paris, and throughout Germany; one critic wrote in 1800 after a performance by Punto and Beethoven of Beethoven's Op. 17 Sonata for Horn and Piano -

He is widely accounted to have been one of the foremost virtuosi of the horn in history.

Early life

Punto was born in Žehušice in Bohemia. His father was a serf bonded to the estate of Count Joseph Johann von Thun, but the young Stich was taught singing, violin and finally the horn. The Count sent him to study horn under Joseph Matiegka in Prague, Jan Schindelarz in Munich, and finally with A. J. Hampel in Dresden (from 1763 to 1764). This last was especially significant as Hampel taught Stich the pioneering hand-stopping technique which he later improved and extended.

Stich then returned to the service of the Count, where he remained for four years, earning a reputation for volatility and troublemaking. At the age of 20 Stich ran away, with four friends. The Count, who had invested heavily in his prodigy, dispatched soldiers with orders to knock out Stich's front teeth to prevent him ever playing the horn again. Fortunately they failed to capture...
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