(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
, 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.
Punto was born in Žehušice
. 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
, Jan Schindelarz
, and finally with A. J. Hampel
(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... Read More