This website has two listings of musicians of the great Boston Symphony
- A listing of all the Musicians of the Boston Symphony from its creation
in 1881 until today. This list includes the names, location and
date of birth and death, instruments, positions and dates of service of
all known full-time Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians.
To go to this list of all BSO musicians, click:
Boston Symphony Orchestra Musicians
- A listing of the Principal Musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
covering the Principal, or first chair musicians, with short biographical
notes and photographs. This listing is the subject of this webpage,
Boston Symphony Orchestra with
Georg Herschel, conductor in an 1882 photo-collage
A Listing of Boston Symphony Orchestra PRINCIPAL Musicians
This page of the www.stokowski.org site seeks to list all the Principal, or
first-chair musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since its inception
in 1881. Also, the principal
or Music Directors of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra are featured. With each musician,
I have tried to reconstruct a short biography of the musician's
professional career. Also, where possible, I have included a
photograph of the musician.
A Listing of ALL Boston Symphony Orchestra Musicians
As well as the Principal musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
contained on this page, I am constructing what is intended to become
a complete listing of all of the musicians of the Boston Symphony
since its creation in 1881. To see this listing of all the Boston Symphony
Orchestra musicians, click on the link '
Boston Symphony Orchestra Musicians List
'. This listing includes names, instruments, titles
and dates of service of all known Boston Symphony musicians.
Also, when know, the place of birth, and the birth and death dates are
included. Please have a look at this listing, and any corrections
or updates to this www.stokowski.org site are welcome by
contacting me, at the link below.
Also, the Boston Symphony Orchestra has descriptions and photographs of
all the current Orchestra musicians on its excellent website.
You can visit the BSO website by clicking the link:
GO TO THE BSO WEBSITE
Quick Navigation: Click Below to Jump to Desired Location
George Henschel 1879 painted by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Georg Henschel, (from 1914, Sir George),
was born in Breslau, then part of Prussia (later Germany and now Poland) on February
18, 1850. He was a singer and pianist by training, having studied at the Leipzig
Conservatory 1867-1870 and at the Berlin Royal Conservatory (part of Akademie der Künste,
Berlin) 1870-1874. Henschel came to Boston in 1881 with his student, a Boston singer
named Lillian Bailey (1860-1901), whom he was shortly to marry. Henschel made such
a success at one of the Harvard Musical Association concert performances
that he caught the attention of the Boston businessman and music lover Major
(actually, a Civil War Colonel) Henry Lee Higginson (1834-1919).
It had been Henry Lee Higginson's idea for some time to create a symphony orchestra
in Boston which would reach the level of the great orchestras of Europe.
Mr. Higginson organized the Boston Symphony Orchestra Association in 1880, facilitated
by his guarantee of the orchestra finances. The result was the first BSO season
in 1881-1882, with George Henschel as Music Director.
Boston Music Hall in 1882, the original location of Boston Symphony concerts
under George Henschel
As an orchestra builder, George Henschel hired many European musicians, particularly German,
as well as employing Boston musicians from the older Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra,
from Boston's Germania Orchestra, and from the Harvard Musical Association
These latter included pioneering Boston orchestral musicians such as the
three Akeroyd brothers
Eichler father and sons
Heindl brothers and son
, Carl Miersch, the
, and others.
The European musicians would sail to Boston each season in October, alone, and then return to
their families in Europe the following May. Contracts were on a season-by-season basis, which
made for a certain level of instability and change. In Boston, Henschel was praised for his
ambitious programs, but less so regarding the discipline and consistency of the orchestral playing.
In 1884, after three seasons in Boston, Georg Henschel returned to London to become Professor
of singing at the Royal College of Music 1886-1888. He
also began in 1886 the London Symphony Concerts (not connected with what was later the London
Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1904). These London concerts continued until 1897.
From 1893-1895, Henschel conducted the Royal Scottish Orchestra. He was, along with
, one of the earliest-born conductors to make a phonograph recording of a complete
symphony orchestra. Henschel died in Aviemore, Scotland his highland home
September 10, 1934.
A Georg Henschel Story: George Henschel was a good friend of
Johannes Brahms, but was terrified by Brahms' loud and unmusical snoring
and wrote: " We retired to No. 11, and it was my instant and
most ardent endeavour to go to sleep before Brahms...my delight
at seeing him take up a book and read in bed was equaled only by my horror when,
after a few minutes, I saw him blow out his candle. A few seconds later the room was
fairly ringing with the most unearthly noises...what should I do? I was in despair...
I went downstairs to the porter, whom, not without some difficulty, I succeeded
in rousing from a sound sleep...I made him open room No. 42 for me...I returned,
early in the morning, to the room in which I had left Brahms...he was awake and,
affectionately looking at me said 'Oh, Henschel, when I awoke and found your bed
empty, I said to myself, There! he's gone and hanged himself ! But really, why
didn't you throw a boot at me ?' The idea of my throwing a boot at Brahms ! "
Wilhelm Gericke studio portrait circa 1898; Boston Symphony Archives
Wilhelm Gericke was born in Schwanberg, Austria about 30 km south of Graz on
May 18, 1845. His family was not musical, yet he showed an early musical
aptitude. Wilhelm Gericke entered the Vienna Conservatory at
age 16 and studied conducting with Felix Otto Dessoff (1835-1892 and
friend of Brahms) and piano under Julius Epstein (1832-1926) during
1862-1865. Epstein, who outlived his pupil Gericke, was instrumental
in recommending to Henry Lee Higginson two Boston Symphony conductors:
Gericke and Nikisch. Wilhelm Gericke’s early experience was gained
by conducting opera at regional opera houses, a typical development path
for conductors in Europe at that time. Following graduation in 1865,
Gericke joined the Linz Opera, where he was Kapellmeister until Spring,
1874. The conducting talent early demonstrated by Gericke lead to his
appointment in 1874 as assistant conductor under Wilhelm Jahn (1835-1900),
Music Director of the Vienna Hofoper, as the Vienna State Opera (Wiener
Staatsoper) was known at that time. In 1880, Wilhelm Gericke was
selected as conductor of the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (the
Friends of Music or ‘Musikverein’) 44. In October, 1884,
Henry Lee Higginson heard Gericke conduct Aida at the Vienna
Opera, and asked his friend Julius Epstein, also of course Gericke’s teacher,
if Gericke would come to Boston. Epstein was doubtful, but Gericke immediately
agreed 45. It seems that Gericke had been in a dispute with
the Music Director Jahn 46, which may well have influenced Gericke’s
decision. After gaining Gericke's agreement in October 1884, Higginson
quickly arranged for Gericke to come to Boston to assume the director position
starting the season in November, 1884. In Gericke's 13 seasons as head of
the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Gericke was instrumental as an orchestra builder,
bringing it to a more consistently high level. Gericke is said by
contemporary critics 47 to have instilled a higher standard of
orchestral playing and to have built new discipline which was not a strength
of George Henschel. Early on, Wilhelm Gericke, in the summer of 1885
between his first and second seasons hired some 20 new orchestra musicians in
Europe, primarily in Vienna 26. The new musicians included
Franz Kneisel, Concertmaster and Louis Svecenski, who was violinist and
violist in the orchestra for 18 years, Max Zach viola, and Emanuel Fiedler
violin who was father of Arthur Fiedler, and Gustav Gerhardt, BSO bass for
41 years, 1885-1926. Gericke also worked to extend the season by touring
other cities, and by adding a Pops program. This made the orchestra more
attractive to musicians, particularly European musicians, by guaranteeing longer
employment. European musicians of the era would sail to the US in September,
leaving their families behind, and return to Europe in June. Gericke was
able to offer multi-year contracts with the best players. By the 1904-1905
season, during Gericke's second term as Music Director, the Boston Symphony had
expanded to a complement of 91 musicians, compared with the 71 musicians of Henschel's
orchestra. It is widely considered that by his selection of musicians, his
discipline, and tenacity, in addition to his art that Wilhelm Gericke made the Boston
Symphony a great orchestra for the first time. By January of the 1888-1889
season, it was known that Wilhelm Gericke would resign from the Boston Symphony
48 due to poor health, primarily from the Boston workload. Gericke
returned to Europe, and between 1890 and 1898, Gericke was living in Dresden.
In 1898, following several seasons of growing criticism of the conducting of
Emil Paur, Henry Higginson convinced Wilhelm Gericke to return as Music Director
of the Boston Symphony in the 1898-1899 season. Then, after eight more seasons
as Music Director of the Boston Symphony, in 1906, Wilhelm Gericke returned to
Vienna. Wilhelm Gericke died in Vienna on October 27, 1925 at age 80.
Some critics, such as the American violinist Sam Franko (1857-1937) were critical
of the conducting of Wilhelm Gericke. Franko, who played under Gericke in the
1885-1886 season wrote '...the performances were full of subtle nuances, finely balanced,
but lacked spirit and life...' 124. Others, such as Howe
5 credit Gericke with a clear and classical style, while also bringing the
discipline and ensemble training that the Boston Symphony needed in its founding years.
Arthur Nikisch studio portrait Paris circa 1910; Boston Symphony Archives
Arthur Nikisch was born in Lébény, Hungary, located mid-way between
Vienna and Budapest on October 12, 1855. Nikisch studied
At the Vienna Conservatory. At the Conservatory, Nikisch studied conducting
under Johann von Herbeck (1831-1877), and violin and conducting under
Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr. (1855-1907). Upon leaving the Vienna
Conservatory in 1878, Nikisch followed the German method of mastering
conducting with a series of 'provincial' conducting responsibilities.
In 1878, Nikisch became second conductor of the Stadt Theater, Leipzig
(the opera), and in 1882, Nikisch advanced to Principal conductor.
In 1889, Henry Lee Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony, was searching
for a successor to Wilhelm Gericke, who had decided to return to Vienna.
Higginson's friend Julius Epstein of the Vienna Conservatory, just as he had
recommended Gericke, now recommended Nikisch 56. Nikisch accepted
and arrived in October, 1889 for the opening of the Boston 1889-1890 season.
He is said to have found the BSO a better ensemble than he had expected
2. With the Boston Symphony, contemporaries noted that
Nikisch conducting style was more free and romantic than Gericke's more
classical approach. The Boston Symphony under all its conductors
regularly toured U.S. cities, but a disagreement between the orchestra
and Nikisch about such touring lead to his departure in the Spring of
1893. (It is interesting that Nikisch demurred at touring then,
but later returned in 1912 to tour the eastern U.S. with the London
Symphony. But the press claimed Nikisch was earning $1000 per night on
this later tour 76.) On leaving Boston, 1893-1895 Nikisch
became Director General of the Budapest Royal Opera. The Nikisch fame
and career as a conductor advanced rapidly, and contemporaries
all agree that he had an immediate, and some said magical, effect
on the playing of an orchestra, simply from his direction. In 1895,
Nikisch became Music Director of the famed Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,
one of the oldest and greatest symphony groups. Nikisch
remained head of the Gewandhausorchester until his death in 1922. Also
in the 1895-1896 season, Nikisch became Music Director of the Berlin
Philharmonic, while still Music Director in Leipzig. It may seem unusual,
particularly for that era, for Nikisch to be Music Director
of two of the leading symphonies. However, Wilhelm Furtwängler
succeeded Nikisch in both positions upon Nikisch's death.
Arthur Nikisch circa 1893
Arthur Nikisch made some of the earliest recordings
of a full symphony orchestra playing major works. This was physically
and musically difficult to accomplish in the acoustic recording era,
and the results so variable and often poor that many leading conductors
of that era did not enter the recording studio. Nikisch's first
recording was with the London Symphony in June, 1913. This was followed
by one of the most famous early recordings: the Beethoven Symphony no 5 with
the Berlin Philharmonic in November, 1913. Fritz Busch in his autobiography
82 wrote that Nikisch knew everyone's name. This was unlike,
for example, Stokowski who would address the musicians as "flute" or
"fagotte". Fritz Busch wrote "...[it was] a speciality
of Nikisch to know the players by name quickly and never make a mistake.
I felt at once that, before he had even begun to conduct, the hearts of the
whole of the orchestra had been won..." 82. Arthur Nikisch
died in Leipzig, Germany on January 23, 1922.
Emil Paur was born August 29, 1855 in Czernowitz, Austria, now
called Chernivtsi, and part of the Ukraine where the Ukraine,
Romania, and Slovakia come together. Paur studied at the Vienna
Conservatory at the same time as his contemporaries Arthur Nikisch
(1855-1922) and Felix Mottl (1856-1911). After graduation from the
Conservatory, Paur played violin in the Wiener Hofoper (Vienna State
Opera) in about 1874 135. In the classic German way
of developing conducting skills, Emil Paur was chief conductor in a
succession of German regional opera houses: Kassel (1876-1980), Königsberg (now
Kaliningrad, Russia), Mannheim (1800), and Leipzig (1889). The
career of Emil Paur seemed frequently to have followed that of Arthur Nikisch.
Paur followed Nikisch as Music Director of the Leipzig Stadttheater
opera in 1889. In October, 1893, Emil Paur followed Arthur Nikisch to
became the fourth Music Director of the Boston Symphony where he stayed for
5 seasons. Paur brought his wife, the pianist Marie Burger (1862-1899),
who died just after the conclusion of Paur’s Boston term.
Paur is said to have conducted less romantically (less variations of tempi,
etc.) than Nikisch or Seidl, but to have been more intense, with
"force and weight" the frequent description. Paur was also an
advocate of the music of Johannes Brahms and Richard Strauss.
In his last two seasons of five in Boston, Paur was regularly rumored to be
replaced. This finally occurred at the end of the 1897-1898, after
Wilhelm Gericke agreed to return to Boston. Paur continued to have a
U.S. career after leaving the Boston Symphony. Following the Boston
1897-1898 season, Paur was then Music Director of the New York Philharmonic
1898-1902. In New York Paur programmed at least one symphony by Brahms
every season, and at least one work by Richard Strauss from 1900-1902.
However, in the 1903-1904 season, Richard Strauss himself was a guest conductor
of the Philharmonic. In 1901-1902, Emil Paur also conducted a touring
orchestra called the 'Paur Symphony Orchestra' touring western states.
Then, beginning in 1904, Emil Paur led the Pittsburgh Symphony
Orchestra for six seasons, 1904-1910. There was some complaint of
Paur in Pittsburgh, since his programs were of an uncompromisingly
high symphonic level, whereas his predecessor, Victor Herbert,
provided the audience with a mixture including what we now call
"pops". After returning to Germany in 1910, Emil Paur went on to
conduct the Berlin State Opera. In September, 1912, Paur succeeded Karl
Muck as Music Director of the Berlin Royal Opera (or Königliche Kapelle),
after 1919 named "Staatsoper Berlin".
Then Karl Muck sailed for Boston to take up his second
Music Director period with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Emil Paur
died on June 7, 1932 in Frydek-Mistek, in what is today the Czech
Karl Muck and the Boston Symphony Orchestra 1914 Boston Symphony Archives
In 1917, the Boston Symphony Orchestra makes its first
recordings under Karl Muck.
As described elsewhere in this website (
1917 - first Victor Acoustic recordings of Leopold Stokowski - Philadelphia Orchestra
), in 1917, the Boston Symphony Orchestra was
the first major orchestra to record for the Victor Talking Machine Company.
Victor then was the leading phonograph and phonograph recording company in the U.S.
and probably in the world. It soon also soon owned 50% of its nearest world rival,
when on December 5, 1920 had purchased half of the shares of the Gramophone Company.
(Described elsewhere on this website:
Licensing the Westrex Electrical Recording System to Victor and Columbia
). Until 1917, Victor had not successfully recorded a full
symphony orchestra, nor did they have the recording location to do so.
Then, with the construction of the Eighth Floor Auditorium of the Victor headquarters,
the "Victor New Office Building no 2" in 1917, Victor finally had a suitable recording
location for a full symphony orchestra. (Read about this by clicking on
1917 - First Victor Acoustic Recordings
). This led on October 2, 3, 4 and 5, 1917
to Victor's first full orchestral recordings. These were of the Boston Symphony
Orchestra under Karl Muck directing. These recordings were followed on October 22,
1917 by the first recordings of the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra under Leopold
From the surviving recordings and contemporary comment, it is clear that
Karl Muck was one of the great conductors of the Boston Symphony.
His career in Boston unfortunately came to a sad end, as described below.
Karl Muck Arrested and Interned
On March 26, 1918, Karl Muck was arrested and subsequently interned as an
"enemy alien". Before the arrest, there had been something
of an ongoing furor in the press during the previous six months as to whether
or not Muck and the Boston Symphony Orchestra would play the Star-Spangled
Banner prior to certain concerts (which they did not). This seemingly
trivial incident needs to be considered in the context of war fever, and the
anti-German sentiments in the US at that time in World War 1. Muck's
detailed love letters to an aspiring Boston soprano may have further complicated
his treatment. In any case, Karl Muck was arrested on
March 26, 1918, and
was selected to become the temporary conductor for the remainder
of the season. Ernst Schmidt was a first violin of the Boston Symphony for four
seasons 1914-1918 and he was conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1915 summer Pops
season. He was also an active composer whose chamber works were somewhat
popular in the early twentieth century. Ernst Schmidt conducted
the Boston Symphony concerts of March 29, April 5 and 6,
April 12, 13 and the 1918 Boston Symphony Pension Fund Concert of April 14, April
19 and 20, April 26 and 17, and the final season concerts of May 3 and 4, 1918.
Ernst Schmidt left the Boston Symphony at the end of the 1917-1918 season to
return to Europe.
Max Fiedler was born in Zittau, Saxony, Germany (near the current Czech and
Polish boarders) December 31, 1859, where his father was Musikdirektor.
Max's brother Hermann Fiedler (1862-1945) and sister Elise Fiedler were
scholars who moved to England to university teaching. Hermann Fiedler
became Head of the German German Department of Oxford University
33. Max Fiedler studied piano and conducting at Leipzig and
then beginning in 1882 at the Hamburg Conservatory. Max Fiedler
made his first appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1897. He
conducted the Hamburg Philharmonic 1904-1908. In 1905, Fiedler was
the first German conductor to guest at the Augusteo Orchestra of Rome
32. He made his U.S. premier with the New York Philharmonic
Society in December, 1905 30, and the London Symphony Orchestra in
June, 1907 30. This led to his invitation to conduct the
Boston Symphony, it was widely said at the recommendation of Karl Muck.
Incidentally, Max Fiedler was not a relation to Arthur Fiedler, the later
Boston Pops conductor. Unlike his predecessors, Fiedler's conducting
experience was orchestral, not with the opera. In Boston, Fiedler
programmed contemporary music, such as Richard Strauss (1864-1949),
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936), Claude Debussy (1862-1918), Jean
Sibelius (1865-1957) and Frederick Delius (1862-1934), as well as the
austro-germanic core repertoire. Fiedler and the Boston Symphony
were also the first to perform the Bruckner Symphony no 8 in the
U.S. in March, 1909 34. However, not all critics were
favorable to Fiedler in Boston. "...Fiedler was selected
because of his warm personal friendship with Dr. Muck and as a
result of the latter's suggestion. Friendship, however, is no mark
of merit..." 31. Observers said that Fiedler
introduced marked accelerations and extremes of tempo in a way, some
critics felt, not as called for by the score. This may have
resemblances to what some feel to be the mannered interpretations of
Willem Mengelberg. Fiedler, according to more than one source also
had the reputation as being something of a "martinet" with
orchestras. After Boston, Fiedler returned to Germany, where he
became Music Director of the Essen Orchestra 1916-1933 29.
Max Fiedler also continued to teach, including in Cologne, and among his students
, future first violin with the BSO 1926-1965.
Max Fiedler continued to conduct a number of German Orchestras and make
recordings well into the period of the Third
Reich. Max Fiedler died in Stockholm, Sweden December 1, 1939.
Henri Rabaud was born in Paris on November 10, 1873. Rabaud came from
a family of musicians. His grandfather was Vincent-Joseph
Dorus (1812-1896), a well-know flutist, and his father was the
cellist Hippolyte François Rabaud (1839–1900) who was cello professor at the
Paris Conservatoire. Henri Rabaud's mother, a singer, created the
role of Marguerite in Gounod's Faust. Henri Rabaud in his turn entered
the Paris Conservatoire in 1891, where he studied composition with Jules Massenet
and André Gedalge, among others. Rabaud said that the music of Wagner
left him indifferent, but Rabaud's own compositions are said to be Wagnerian.
From 1908-1914, Rabaud was conductor of the orchestra of the Paris Opéra
and 1914-1918, he was Music Director of that group. With the removal of
Karl Muck in March, 1918, Boston scrambled to find a new conductor. Only
in September, 1918 could Henri Rabaud be announced. Nor could Rabaud
arrive in time for the opening concerts in October 1918, which were led by
Pierre Monteux (at that time conducting at the Metropolitan Opera), with piano
soloist Josef Hofmann 55, as shown in the announcement
photograph, below. Henri Rabaud was principal conductor of the
Boston Symphony for one season, 1918-1919, and was not reengaged for the
following season. Rabaud returned to France in the summer of 1919.
Following the resignation in 1922 of Gabriel Fauré as director of
the Paris Conservatoire, Henri Rabaud succeeded him as director position,
a position Rabaud held until 1941. In 1940 and 1941, although not
required by the authorities 1, Rabaud asked political guidance
from the German ambassador. Rabaud then excluded, first the
Jewish background professors from the Conservatoire, and later, the
Jewish musical students. Rabaud also participated in the Vichy
government's Comité professionnel de l'art
musical, a French organization which was modeled
after the Nazi regime's "Music Organization of the Reich".
After the withdrawal of the Nazis from France in 1944,
Rabaud took actions to insulate himself from charges of
collaboration, and nothing further was said. Henri Rabaud
died in suburban Paris (Neuilly) on September 11, 1949 at age 75.
Henri Rabaud and Pierre Monteux in a 1918 Boston Symphony announcement of the
appointment of Henri Ribaud as BSO conductor, and that Metropolitan Opera
conductor Pierre Monteux would begin the 1918-1919 Boston season, awaiting
the later arrival of Ribaud
Pierre Monteux was born April 4, 1875 in the ninth arrondissement of
Paris. He studied violin from youth, and gained admittance to
the Paris Conservatoire in 1884 at the age of nine. While
at the Conservatoire, he played violin at the Folies Bergères to
aid his finances. At the Conservatoire, Monteux's violin
skills were sufficient that he shared the Conservatoire 1896 violin
prize with Jacques Thibaud (1880-1953). Monteux then took up
the viola, studying with Theophile Laforge (1863-1918), professor of
viola at the Paris Conservatoire. While at the
Conservatoire and after, Monteux was Principal viola of the
Concerts Colonne, 1893-1912, under Édouard Colonne. Although
he also conducted occasionally at the Concerts Colonne, Édouard
Colonne did not support or encourage Monteux in this activity.
In the early 1900s, Monteux was solo (Principal) viola of the orchestra
of the Paris Opéra-Comique (a position that
Boston viola Jean Lefranc
was to hold a decade later). From 1902-1910, during the summer
season, Monteux was first a violinist/violist and later the conductor
of the Dieppe casino orchestra, a Normandy seaside resort.
This Summer experience was perhaps something like the conducting
taining experienced gained in regional theaters by beginning conductors
in Germany. In 1911, Monteux became conductor of the Sergei
Diaghilev Ballets russes ballet company, which gained Monteux his
first wider conducting recognition. Monteux conducted the premières
of Stravinsky's Petrushka in June, 1911 and his Sacre du
Printemps in May, 1913. This latter was the performance which
has gone down in concert legend for its riot by some parts of an angry
Paris audience. Monteux also conducted the premieres of the
Debussy Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune in May, 1912 and of
the Ravel Daphnis et Chloé in June, 1912 and the Debussy
Jeux in 1913. Quite a string of premieres of the first
rank, thanks in part to the discernment and commissioning of these
works by Sergei Diaghilev. Monteux then conducted at L'Opéra de
Paris 1913-1914. At the outbreak of World War 1, Monteux was
inducted into the French army, but upon discharge in 1916, he was
briefly a conductor at Le Théâtre de l'Odéon. Then, in the
spring of 1916, Monteux was allowed to travel to the U.S. for the
1916-1917 tour of Diaghilev's Ballets russes. It was
consequent to this tour that, from 1917-1919, Monteux was appointed
a staff conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, specializing in the French
repertoire. French opera appreciation had grown in New York
during the war, as the German operas began to fall out of favor.
In 1919, following the unsuccessful season of Henri Rabaud in Boston,
Pierre Monteux became conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
In fact, Monteux had conducted the Boston Symphony during the
initial weeks of the 1918-1919 season, because Henri Rabaud had been
delayed in his arrival in Boston. Monteux remained in Boston
for five seasons, 1919-1924.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra Strike of 1920
Although Monteux's conducting was both successful and well-received,
the disastrous Boston Symphony Orchestra strike of the 1919-1920
season damaged the remainder of his Boston tenure.
In the 1919-1920 season, the Boston musicians sought to unionize
the orchestra and gain wage increases. The life of an
orchestra musician, even of the Boston Symphony, was precarious
with a short season, facing difficult summer employment and also
being low-paid in that era. The deadlock between the orchestra
musicians and the Board on salary and unionization reached an impasse
by March, 1920. On March 5, 1920, there was a confrontation
in which the Concertmaster, Fredric Fradkin, who support
the changes, remained in his seat when Pierre Monteux gestured to
the Orchestra to rise at the conclusion of their performance of
Berlioz's Sinfonie fantastique. This caused a sensation,
and that evening Fradkin was summarily dismissed by the Board.
This led to 32 other musicians leaving the orchestra 75.
12 of these musicians went to the National Symphony Orchestra of New York
(later merged with the New York Philharmonic) under Willem Mengelberg,
and several to the Detroit Symphony.
With 21 of these lost musicians being in the violin, viola and cello
sections, Monteux had a major orchestra rebuilding task Commentators
since have considered that Monteux did a good job rebuilding the orchestra.
However, Monteux's position seems to have also been damaged.
Although Monteux avoided involvement in the strike confrontation, he emerged
with his his authority and rapport with the orchestra partially compromised.
Although he continued four more seasons, continuing to rebuild
the orchestra, by the end of the 1923-1924 season, the Board felt a new
organizing force was needed. After an extensive search, Serge
Koussevitzky was hired from Paris as Monteux's successor 74.
The Boston Symphony did join the musicians union on
December 4, 1942.
Monteux then returned to France
where in 1924, he again conducted the Ballets russes. At that
time, he also began a long relationship with the Concertgebouw
Orchestra of Amsterdam, sharing conducting seasons with long-time
Music Director Willem Mengelberg. In 1929, Monteux and
Alfred Cortot were key in the creation of L'Orchestre symphonique
de Paris (not the same as the orchestra created in 1967).
In the summer of 1935, Monteux conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic
at the Hollywood Bowl, and the San Francisco Orchestra Board asked
him if he would come to San Francisco 31. This led to
the hiring of Pierre Monteux in the autumn of 1935 to resuscitate
the remnants of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. After
conducting the first four weeks of the Los Angeles Symphony 1935-1936
season (Klemperer was conducting the New York Philharmonic) 31,
Pierre Monteux came to San Francisco the week of September 9, 1935
142 to organize his orchestra. He had conducted at the
Hollywood Bowl during the summer of 1935, to be followed by concerts
with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in December. During the latter
part of 1935, Monteux was auditioning and
selecting musicians to reconstitute the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
At that time, the SFSO season did not actually start until
January, since each Autumn, the San Francisco musicians played in the
San Francisco Opera, which also occupied the War Memorial Hall,
and the opera season did not conclude until end December 32.
Monteux's first rehearsal with his new orchestra was on Tuesday
December 31, 1935 53. This was two days after his final concert
of the season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic 143.
Monteux's initial concert pair of his
first 1935-1936 season was on Friday afternoon January 10 and Saturday
evening January 11, 1936 140. Monteux's success, and
his active recording schedule with the San Francisco Symphony allowed it
to thrive economically, and extend its season. From the ten subscription
concert pairs of the 1935-1936 season, by 1937-1938, the San Francisco
Symphony season had expanded to twelve concert pairs of
subscription concerts 31. (By 1948, Monteux
had moved the beginning of the SFSO season back to November.)
Monteux's musicianship and greatness was unquestioned,
although some thought that Monteux did not always demand the best.
Toscanini, for example always drove himself and his musicians to
seek the best at every concert. Monteux was thought by some
sometimes to accept less. Monteux became a U.S.
citizen in 1942, and thereafter based his career in North America.
His later life was centered in guest conducting, including the Boston
Symphony (after Koussevitzky had retired), and the Concertgebouw
Orchestra, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra. in
1943, Monteux founded his conducting school near his Summer home
in Hancock, Maine, where a number of famous conductors (Lorin
Maazel, Neville Marriner, Andre Previn) had at least part of
their training. Monteux died July 1, 1964 in Hancock,
Maine at age 89.
Serge Koussevitzky (sometimes transliterated as Sergei Koussevitski)
was born in Vyshny Volochyok, 240 km northwest of Moscow on July
26, 1874. His poor Jewish parents were both musicians, and
Koussevitzky learned violin and cello from an early age. In
1888, Koussevitzky won a full scholarship to the Music and Drama
Institute run by the Moscow Philharmonic to study double bass.
Koussevitzky was a virtuoso bass player and joined the Bolshoi
Theater orchestra in 1894, where he stayed until 1905, moving to
Principal bass of the Bolshoi in 1901. He married his first
wife, Nadezhda Galat, a Bolshoi ballerina, in 1902.  In 1905,
Koussevitzky divorced Galat in order to marry Natalya Ushkov,
daughter of a wealthy Russian tea merchant. With his wife's
wealth, Koussevitzky was able to move to Berlin to study conducting.
According to Norman Lebrecht in his gossipy (but fun) book The
Maestro Myth, Koussevitzky was "...to take conducting lessons
from Nikisch, whose gambling debts he paid off with his dowry. For
his wedding present, Natalie asked her father to to buy Serge an orchestra
..." 53. Somewhat like the wealthy Sir Thomas Beecham
in the early years of learning conducting, Koussevitzky used his great
wealth to hire complete orchestras. In 1908, Koussevitzky made
his conducting debut by hiring the Berlin Philharmonic (!) In
1909, Koussevitzky also founded a music publishing house,
Editions Russes de Musique in Berlin, dedicated to new Russian
music. In 1909, Koussevitzky formed his own orchestra in Moscow.
During 1909-1920, Koussevitzky toured as a bass virtuoso and
also conducted his orchestra. Koussevitzky had a flair for
publicity and became famous across Europe. Following the Russian
Revolution in 1917, Koussevitzky was appointed conductor of what
became in 1918, the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Petrograd,
predecessor of the Leningrad Philharmonic (and now the St. Petersburg
Philharmonic). In 1920, Koussevitzky left Russia for Paris, where
he began a new orchestral series called Concerts Koussevitzky.
In 1923, the Boston Symphony, searching for a successor to Pierre Monteux,
offered Koussevitzky a three year contract, beginning with the 1924-1925
Boston season. Koussevitzky accepted, moving to Boston, where he would
live the rest of his life.
Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein, Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood in 1940
photo: Ruth Orkin
Beginning with the 1924-1925 season, Koussevitzky
was director of the Boston Symphony for 25 seasons, 1924-1949, and brought the
Boston Symphony Orchestra to a new level of international fame, with consistent
excellence. Koussevitzky also provided the musicians with a new level of
income security by expanding the season. Beginning in 1936, Koussevitzky
further expanded the orchestra's activity with the Tanglewood Festival during
summers. The Tanglewood Music Festival had its beginnings in 1936 when
Koussevitzky brought the orchestra to the Tanglewood estate for a series of
concerts. In 1940, Koussevitzky started what became known as the Tanglewood
Music Center, an educational experience held each summer for promising young
musicians, with master classes and multiple performance opportunities.
During his tenure in Boston, Koussevitzky was a leading advocate of new music,
commissioning a long list of now-famous works. Koussevitzky founded the
Koussevitzky Music Foundation in 1942 to commission and promote new music.
Koussevitzky's many commissions, such as the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra
(1943), Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes (1944-1945), Aaron Copland’s
Symphony no 3 (1944-1946), Arnold Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw (1947),
and others. One controversial aspect of Koussevitzky's art was his use of
a pianist, or even the full orchestra, to play new scores, so that he could
hear and master them. Most other conductors study the scores directly,
but a facility to fully hear the music from reading the score was apparently
was not a gift granted Koussevitzky (but of course he could read a symphonic
score). Yet, Koussevitzky was an inspired performer, one of the greats of
a great age, as still shown by his recorded legacy. Koussevitzky also had
a broad repertoire, including an open attitude to contemporary music. As a
conductor, Koussevitzky made relatively fewer alterations to the composer's score,
unlike, for example, Stokowski or Mengelberg. During his tenure, Serge
Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony made a long series of very successful
78 RPM recordings which are still enjoyed today on CD. Serge Koussevitzky
made a long-lasting impact on the Boston Symphony. Harry Ellis Dickson
in his book Gentlemen, More Dolce, Please noted: "...It
is now more than twenty-five years since Serge Koussevitzky retired as Music
Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, after having served for a quarter
of a century. Inevitable changes have taken place in our orchestra since
then...yet the spirit of Koussevitzky still hovers over the orchestra."
62 Serge Koussevitzky retired from the Boston Symphony at
the end of the 1948-1949 season after twenty-five seasons as Music Director,
and died in Boston two years later, on June 4, 1951, age 76.
Charles Munch was born Charles Münch in Strasbourg, France on September 26,
1891 (when the region was still under control of Germany). From an
early age, he studied violin under his organist father, Ernest Münch
(1859-1928). Charles Munch entered the Strasbourg Conservatoire
1905-1912, where his father also taught. Munch then studied with
the great violinist Carl Flesch in Berlin and with Lucien Capet at the
Paris Conservatoire. During World War 1, Munch was first
conscripted into the German army, but in 1918, he became a French
citizen. From 1919-1925, Munch taught violin at the Strasbourg
Conservatoire, and was assistant Concertmaster of the Strasbourg
orchestra. Munch then moved to the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
as Concertmaster 1925-1932, first under Wilhelm Furtwängler and then
beginning in 1929 under Bruno Walter. While in Leipzig, Munch also
taught violin at the Leipzig Conservatory. While in Leipzig, Charles
Munch studied conducting, in part with the Czech musician Fritz Zweig
(1893-1984, conductor at the Kroll Opera, who later ended up in Hollywood).
Charles Munch returned to Paris and on November 1, 1932, he made his
conducting debut with the Orchestre des Concerts Straram.
The orchestra and the hall of Théâtre des Champs Elysées
were hired by his fiancé Geneviève Maury, an heiress to the Nestlé chocolate
fortune. So, like Koussevitzky, Munch got his start in conducting by
having the fortune to hire an entire orchestra and hall for his debut.
Munch then conducted a series of French Orchestras: in 1933, l'Orchestre
Lamoureux (Albert Wolff 1884-1970 was then Music Director), l'Orchestre
Symphonique de Paris (in 1934, following Pierre Monteux),
Société Philharmonique de Paris (1935-1938), while
at the same time teaching at l’Ecole Normale de Musique
de Paris. Charles Munch then became Music Director of
l'Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du
Conservatoire during 1938-1946, including through World War
2. From 1946-1949, Charles Munch traveled widely as a guest
conductor, particularly in the U.S. In the 1947-1948 season, Charles Munch
was in the competition, along with Dimitri Mitropoulos and Leopold Stokowski
to become Music Director of the New York Philharmonic 190. Instead
of New York, in 1948, Charles Munch was designated to become Serge Koussevitzky's
successor as Music Director of the Boston Symphony in the In the 1949-1950
Charles Munch with the Boston Symphony in mid-1950s. photo: Boston Symphony Orchestra
Charles Munch remained in Boston for 13 seasons.
Munch also lead the symphony in four major tours. In 1953, Charles Munch
led the Boston Symphony on its first transcontinental tour of the US.
In 1952 and 1956, he led European tours. In the 1956 European tour,
the Boston Symphony was led by Munch and Monteux, and under Munch,
the BSO was the first American orchestra to perform in the Soviet Union.
In 1960, Munch lead the Boston Symphony on an extensive (and reportedly
exhausting) tour of Japan, East Asia and Australia.
Charles Munch was regarded by many BSO musicians as a protector of their
interests, and was both liked and respected. At the end of the
1961-1962 season Charles Munch left the Boston Symphony and passed to a
guest conductor phase of his career. He returned to France where
in 1963 he became director of l'École Normale de
Musique, where he had taught 30 years earlier. In 1967,
Charles Munch was prevailed upon to become Music Director of the newly
formed l’Orchestre de Paris. In 1968, he took the orchestra on a tour
of North America, during which Charles Munch died on November 6, 1968 of a
heart attack in his hotel room in Richmond, Virginia.
Erich Leinsdorf (right) with Richard Mohr, recording producer at one of
many RCA Victor - Boston Symphony recoding sessions in the 1960s
Erich Leinsdorf was born Erich J. Landauer in Vienna, Austria on
February 4, 1912. Leinsdorf studied piano, cello and conducting at
the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, followed by the University of
Vienna and the Vienna Conservatory. At the Salzburg Festival,
1934-1938, Leinsdorf was conducting assistant first to Bruno Walter
and then Arturo Toscanini. Leinsdorf's ability to sight read scores
at the piano, his memory, and his Italian language skills were advantages
at Salzburg, and Toscanini became something of a mentor to Leinsdorf.
During these years, Leinsdorf also conducted opera Italy, in Bologna,
Trieste, Florence, and San Remo. In 1938, Leinsdorf left Vienna
and Europe because of the rise of the Nazi influence and went to
New York. At the recommendation of Lotte
Lehmann to Artur Bodanzky 55, Leinsdorf joined the Metropolitan
Opera in the 1938-1939 season. Beginning in the 1939-1940 season,
following the death or Artur Bodanzky, Erich Leinsdorf was named
principal MET conductor of the German repertory, which gave Leinsdorf's
career an immediate boost during 1939-1942. Leinsdorf found the
Metropolitan Opera progressively more frustrating, with the few
rehearsals and the negative atmosphere of opera house politics.
In 1942 in a controversial selection process in which candidates
George Szell and Vladimir Golschmann were turned down 54,
Erich Leinsdorf was named Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Leinsdorf happily departed from the MET, but he was unlucky at Cleveland.
First, in the 1942-1943 season, with the US entering World War 2,
Cleveland lost 22 musicians, whom Leinsdorf needed to replace.
One of Leinsdorf's hires was George Goslee, Principal bassoon, who remained
with the orchestra for 44 seasons. Then, Leinsdorf himself was drafted
into the U.S. Army 1943-1945, and so was not able to make his mark in
Cleveland. Leinsdorf received his Army discharge in September, 1944.
Meanwhile, the 1944-1945 Cleveland Orchestra season had already been
programmed with guest conductors including George Szell who had very
successful series of November 1944 concerts. The 1945-1946 Cleveland
season became a horserace between Leinsdorf, Szell, and Vladimir Golschmann
as to who would become permanent Music Director. Szell made a strong
impression on Cleveland that season, and Erich Leinsdorf gradually
lost our to Szell. This may have seemed the destiny of George Szell,
who continued with 24 seasons of greatness with the Cleveland
Orchestra. Leinsdorf then went on to the Rochester Philharmonic, where
he was Music Director for eight seasons, 1947-1955. Then, after a
brief period at the New York City Opera, Leinsdorf returned as a leading
conductor of the Metropolitan Opera during 1957-1962.
Erich Leinsdorf was appointed Music Director of the Boston Symphony in the
1962-1963 season. During his seven seasons with the BSO until 1969,
Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony made many recordings for RCA Victor,
including an excellent series of Prokofiev symphonies and concerti.
1978-1980, Erich Leinsdorf was conductor of the Berlin Radio Orchestra.
After the departure of Lorin
Maazel from his stormy Cleveland tenure in 1982, Erich Leinsdorf returned to
Cleveland frequently to provide continuity prior to the arrival of Christoph
von Dohnányi in the 1984-1985 season. Erich Leinsdorf
in his last years divided his residence among Sarasota, Florida,
Zurich, Switzerland, and New York. Erich Leinsdorf died in a Zurich
hospital, suffering from cancer on September 11, 1993. His musical
erudition and generous personality gained respect, and during his most
inspired performances, particularly in the opera house, he was often
the equal of any of his contemporaries.
William Steinberg was born Hans Wilhelm Steinberg in Cologne, Germany on
August 1, 1899. During World War 1, Steinberg was in a
German military band, playing the horn. 1918-1920
Steinberg studied at the Cologne Conservatory, where in 1920, he
won the Heinz Wülner conducting prize. In the 1920s, Steinberg followed
the classic German path for the training of a conductor: a series
of provincial opera posts. First was the Cologne Opera, where in
1920, Steinberg was appointed Otto Klemperer's conducting assistant. When
Klemperer left Cologne in 1924, Steinberg was appointed his successor.
Cologne was followed in 1925-1929 by 4 years in Czechoslovakia at the Prague
State Opera (the German opera in Prague). While there, Steinberg made
his first recording in 1928 for Columbia with Bronislaw Huberman of the
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra, a
famous recording, never out of circulation until today. After
Prague, Steinberg then graduated to one of the first-ranked German
opera companies, the Frankfurt Opera from 1929-1933. In 1933,
following the accession to power of the Nazi government, Steinberg was
excluded from conducting groups other than of Jewish musicians.
Consequently, Steinberg left Germany for Palestine where, with
its founder Bronislaw Huberman (1882-1947), William Steinberg
began the Palestine Symphony Orchestra in 1936 and was its first
Music Director. On December 26, 1936, the Palestine Symphony
gave its first concert with Arturo Toscanini conducting.
Toscanini was impressed by the orchestral preparation done by
William Steinberg, and invited Steinberg to become his assistant
at the NBC Symphony. As a result, Steinberg arrived in
New York City in 1938 as assistant conductor. 1945-1952,
Steinberg was Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic.
This was followed by the position for which Steinberg is likely
most remembered: Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony
Orchestra 1952-1976. While still Music Director in
Pittsburgh, William Steinberg was appointed Music Director
of the Boston Symphony.
Steinberg toured extensively with both the Pittsburgh Symphony and
the Boston Symphony. Pittsburgh toured Europe for an amazing 11
weeks, August 10 to November 1, 1964. In April, 1971
Steinberg and the BSO also toured Europe. Then, in 1973
Steinberg and the Pittsburgh Symphony toured Oregon, Alaska and
Japan, participating in the 1973 Osaka Music Festival.
Steinberg's tenure at the Boston Symphony was also beneficial
to Seiji Ozawa, because Steinberg had no interest in Tanglewood,
and left the running of the Tanglewood Music Center to Ozawa
and Gunther Schuller 81. At the end
of the 1971-1972 season, Steinberg relinquished the Boston Music
Director position, as he did the Pittsburgh position at the end
of the 1975-1976 season, after 24 seasons as Music Director.
In December, 1977, Steinberg made his last orchestral appearance
with the Pittsburgh Symphony. I found the Steinberg concerts
with different orchestras, as well as his Boston and Pittsburgh recordings
to be competent, yet basically uninspired, including his Bruckner, for
which he was often praised. However, I would not share the
extreme opinion of a friend who claimed that he believed Steinberg
must be deaf (probably he was not serious).
Steinberg hearing problem ? (just joking)
Steinberg was appreciated by his colleagues for his wry sense
of humor, including about himself. William Steinberg died in
New York City, six months after his final appearance with the
1972-2002 ("Music Advisor" in 1972-1973)
Seiji Ozawa was born on September 1, 1935 of Japanese parents in
Shenyang (also known as Mukden), in the southern Manchuria portion
of China, then under Japanese occupation (called the province
"Manchukou" by Japan).
Upon his family's return to Japan in 1944, Ozawa began to study the
piano. Ozawa studied with Hideo Saito (1902-1975), at the Toho
Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, who encouraged Ozawa interest in
conducting. In 1958, Seiji Ozawa won first prize in conducting at
the Toho Gakuen School of Music (where Eiji Oue, later Music
Director of the Minnesota Orchestra, and Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Music
Director of several orchestras also studied). In 1959 at the
International Competition of Orchestra Conductors in Besançon,
France, Ozawa won first prize. The Besançon win caused Charles
Munch to invite Ozawa to attend the summer 1960 Berkshire (later Tanglewood)
Music Center studies. While at Tanglewood in 1960 Ozawa won the
Koussevitzky Prize for Outstanding Student Conductor. During
the 1960-1961 season, Ozawa studied with Herbert von Karajan in
Berlin. Then, Leonard Bernstein appointed Seiji Ozawa assistant
conductor of the New York Philharmonic beginning in the 1961-1962
season, and accompanied Bernstein during the Japan tour
that year. Ozawa stayed in New York for 4 seasons,
becoming Bernstein's exclusive assistant. In the summers of 1964
to 1971, Seiji Ozawa was Music Director of Chicago's
Ravinia Festival. For four seasons, 1965-1969, Ozawa was Music
Director of the Toronto Symphony. In 1970, Seiji Ozawa became Music
Director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, retaining the post
seven seasons 1970-1977, being "Musical Advisor" for the last
season. While still at San Francisco, Ozawa became Artistic
Director of the Tanglewood Festival. Ozawa was then appointed
"Music Advisor" of the Boston Symphony in 1972-1973, and then
Music Director beginning with the 1973-1974 season, while still being
Music Director of the SFSO. Seiji Ozawa is said to have
expressed the objective to pass the forty-three seasons that Eugene
Ormandy was Music Director in Philadelphia. Ozawa did not
reach that mark, but with his thirty seasons in Boston (including
the Music Advisor season), he surpassed Koussevitzky who served
twenty-five seasons. In 1992, with Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Ozawa
founded the Saito Kinen Orchestra of Tokyo in 1992. In 2002,
Ozawa was named Music Director of the Vienna State Opera. It
was announced he would leave his Vienna post at the end of
the 2009-2010 season. Although Ozawa's health has been variable
(reportedly due to esophageal cancer 109), Seiji Ozawa
also continues an active guest conducting program. Seiji Ozawa
throughout his career studied each of his scores intensively, and
was regarded by his colleagues as always prepared in-depth. He
also has an excellent musical memory. His conducting style is
clean and transparent. Ozawa also has a remarkable depth of
repertoire, including extended representation of contemporary
James Levine was born June 23, 1943 in that musical city of
Cincinnati, Ohio. His father was a violinist who lead a dance
band, and his mother had studied with Martha Graham. Levine
began piano study at age 4 73, and was something of a
prodigy. At age 10, he played the Mendelssohn Second Piano
Concerto at a Cincinnati Symphony youth concert. Also at
age 10, Levine began study with Walter Levin, first violin of
the LaSalle Quartet, then quartet-in-residence in Cincinnati.
(Walter Levin apparently initially said "the ten-year-old has
not been born that I would teach".) In the summer of
1956, at age 13, Levine studied at Rudolf Serkin's Marlboro Music
School in Vermont. The next summer, in 1957, Levine attended
the Aspen Music School in Colorado, where he studied with with
pianist Rosina Lhévinne (1880-1976), even though Levine had already
settled on conducting as a career. His relationship with
Rosina Lhévinne continued over the next decades. In 1961,
Levine entered the Juilliard School, where he studied conducting
with Jean Morel (1903-1975). James Levine graduated from
Juilliard in 1964, just before his twenty-first birthday.
In later years, James Levine said that the three most influential
persons on his musical development were Walter Levin, Rosina
Lhévinne, and Jean Morel. Levine thought that Jean Morel
was perhaps not one of the great conductors, but a very good teacher
of preparation and conducting technique 73.
In 1964-1965 season, Levine studied with George Szell
and the Cleveland Orchestra, where he became assistant conductor to
Szell 1965-1970. In 1971, Levine succeeded Seiji Ozawa as Music
Director of Chicago's Ravinia Festival. From 1971-1994, for
twenty-three seasons, James Levine was Music Director of the Ravinia
Festival each summer, being succeeded in turn by Christoph Eschenbach.
During this period, 1974-1978, Levine was also Music Director of the
Cincinnati May Festival in his home town. Levine made his Metropolitan
Opera debut in the summer of 1971, with an acclaimed performance of Tosca,
followed by return engagements. Then, in the 1973-1974 season,
Levine was appointed Principal Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera.
Levine was further offered the Music Director position of the Metropolitan
Opera by Schuyler Chapin, then General Manager, but with the stipulation that
Chapin would reserve artistic decisions, as Sir Rudolf Bing had done
73. James Levine is said to have considered such an
arrangement unworkable. The situation evolved, including the
departure of Chapin. Then, for the 1976-1977 season, James Levine
was appointed Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, a position Levine
still holds. In this position, it can be said that Levine has more
total authority at the Metropolitan Opera than even Arturo Toscanini did
with Gatti-Casazza from 1908-1915.
At the MET, Levine has every year improved the working conditions and the
quality of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Levine gradually added
co-Principals in each of the orchestra sections, so as to reduce the
heavy weekly work load of the Principal musicians. This, and the
improvement of salaries and conditions allowed the Metropolitan Opera
Orchestra to hire the best musicians, and to improve overall performance
quality. With the virtuoso level of his orchestra, Levine also began
a regular series of successful concert programs by the Metropolitan Opera
Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. This was not the first time the Metropolitan
Opera Orchestra had given purely orchestral concerts, but it was judged by
critics to have achieved a new level of organization and quality in this
orchestral series. James Levine first conducted the Boston Symphony
in 1972. James Levine became the fourteenth Music Director of the
Boston Symphony in the 2004-2005 season. Since his appointment in Boston,
Levine has suffer health problems, including surgery in 2008 and 2009.
Most serious was lengthy spinal surgery in April, 2010. However, James
Levine made a triumphant return to open the 2010-2011 Boston Symphony season
on October 2, 2010 125. Unfortunately, it was not to last, and
the spinal problems continued, forcing James Levine to resign as Music Director
of the Boston Symphony in March, 2011.
On May 16, 2013, the Boston Symphony announced that Andris Nelsons would become
the next Music Director of the Boston Symphony beginning in the 2014-2015
season. Andris Nelsons was born on November 18, 1978 in Riga, Latvia when
it was still a part of the Soviet Union. During the 2013-2014 Boston
season, Nelsons has been the "Music Director Designate".
Nelsons mother and step-father were both musicians, and Nelsons early in
his training pursued piano, trumpet and singing. He then entered the
Saint Petersburg Conservatory where he studied conducting with
Alexander Titov. In 2002, Nelsons later studied with Mariss Jansons
whom Nelsons considers a mentor. In 2003, Nelsons became Principal
Conductor of the Latvian National Opera, where he continued for
four seasons. In 2006, Nelsons became Chief Conductor of the
Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie of Herford, Germany, where he continued
for three seasons. Beginning in 2008, Andris Nelsons has been
the Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
In the summer of 2010, Andris Nelsons made his debut at the
opening of the Bayreuth Festival season with a new production of
Lohengrin. With the City of Birmingham Symphony appointment,
Nelsons began a UK engagement which will end (for now) with the
2014-2015 season. Nelsons' first Boston Symphony engagement was in
March 2011 as a last-minute substitute for James Levine at a Carnegie Hall
concert. Andris Nelsons' initial Boston Symphony contract is for
five seasons. The Nelsons - Boston Symphony relationship has
begun most positively in the eyes of both the musicians and the
A small Boston Symphony conductor joke: it is said that
when Charles Munch conducted any of the Bach Brandenburg Concerti, the
musicians backstage referred to him as "a Bach Suite driver".
The Boston Pops, or "Boston Popular
Concert Series" was a tradition in Boston, founded in 1885.
Called "Music Hall Promenade Concerts" from 1885 to 1900, it was
modeled after the London Promenade Concerts (the "Proms") or perhaps
the Vienna summer concert gardens of Henry Lee Higginson's youthful
experience, with tables and food and drink served to an audience of both
lighter and more serious music. After 1900, it became officially
the "Boston Pops".
A Boston Pops concert 1905
These concerts, employing most of the musicians of the Boston Symphony, except the
section principals, began just after the end of the BSO orchestral season, typically
in May. For the first seventy years of the Boston Symphony, until year-around
employment was achieved, the Pops season supplied welcome added employment for the
Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians.
Gustav Strube was born in Ballenstedt in the Hartz Mountains of Germany on
March 3, 1867. Gustave Strube was a first violin of the Boston Symphony
1890-1913. From 1898 to 1912 he conducted the Boston Pops. The Boston Globe of
April 26, 1903 wrote: "...After five years of most satisfactory and gratifying
service by Messrs Max Zach and Gustav Strube as joint conductors [of the Boston Pops]
the management has decided to make a change. Mr T. Adamowski, who nine years ago in
old Music hall conducted during the most successful season ever known in the 17 years
of the 'Pops' has been selected to again wield the baton..." 185
Strube in 1913
Max Zach 1896-1902, 1906-07
Zach in 1910
Leo Schulz 1897
Arthur Kautzenbach 1908-1909
André Maquarre 1909-1917
Otto Urack 1912-1914 (along with André Maquarre)
Otto Urack as Principal cello in 1914 (detail of photo in Boston Symphony
Following the end of each regular Boston Symphony season, there are eight
weeks of Boston Pops concerts to keep the orchestra's salaries coming, prior
to the beginning of the Tanglewood season.
However, since the Boston Symphony Principal musicians do not usually play
with the Pops, these Principals previously had an open two months.
This changed in 1964, when Erich Leinsdorf and Joseph Silverstein organized
the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. In this group, twelve of the
Boston Symphony first chair musicians make up a highly effective chamber
music ensemble. This also gives the Principal musicians of the BSO
employment during the Boston Pops holiday season.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players have proved a highly successful group,
touring in the U.S. and internationally, with an innovative and varied
repertoire, and reportedly an inspirational break from a steady diet
of orchestral music for the first chair players.
Boston Symphony Chamber Players in 1964 Boston Symphony Archives
seated: Doriot Anthony Dwyer, flute, Joseph Silverstein, violin, Burton
Fine, viola, Jules Eskin, cello
standing: Ralph Gomberg, oboe, Harold "Buddy" Wright, clarinet,
Charles Kavalovski, horn, Armando Ghitalla, trumpet, Ronald Barron, trombone,
Everett J. "Vic" Firth, percussion, Sherman Walt, bassoon,
Edwin Barker, bass.
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Boston Symphony Orchestra String Section heads 1913-1914 season
Boston Symphony Orchestra leaders of string sections 1913-1914 season
seated: Heinrich Warnke, cello, Anton Witek, Concertmaster,
Emile Férir, viola, Alfred Holy (Holý), harp
standing: Max Kunze, bass, Sylvain Noack, second Concertmaster,
Walther Habenicht, second violin
Titles of First Chair Musicians
Note: Today, except for the Concertmaster (sometimes called the
"Leader" in Europe), the usual title for the first or
leading instrument of an orchestral section is "Principal",
as in "Principal Flute". However, in earlier years
and in some orchestra sections, the first chair musician may have been
referred to as "Solo", or "First", as in "solo
In the profiles below, for consistency and clarity, I usually use the
title "Principal", even if the title was not yet used at that
Boston Symphony Orchestra Concertmasters
1881-1885 Bernard (or Bernhard) Listemann
Bernard Friedrich Wilhelm Listemann was born in Schlotheim, Germany
(in the Thuringia region, 60 km west of Leipzig) on
August 28, 1841. He began studies in Sonderhaven, Germany at
an early age with with his uncle, the Concertmaster, Ullrich
Listemann 194. Bernard Listemann's older brother,
Frederick or "Fritz" (1839-1909) and brother Paul Listemann
were also violinists who emigrated with Bernard to the USA in 1867.
Bernard Listemann studied under some of the most famous violin teachers
of the nineteenth century: Ferdinand David in Leipzig,
Henri Vieuxtemps in Frankfurt and Joseph Joachim in Hanover194.
In 1856, age only 15, Bernard Listemann played in the first violin section
of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra 88. In 1858, Bernard
Listemann was appointed Concertmaster of the Court Orchestra of Rudolstadt
in Thuringia 88. He was also a musician for in the
court of the Prince Frederick Günther of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
in central Germany194. Bernard and Fritz Listemann came
to the U.S. in 1867. In 1871, Bernard became Concertmaster of the
Theodore Thomas Orchestra, a touring orchestra organized by
Theodore Thomas and based in New York City. Bernard Listemann
continued with the Thomas orchestra until the 1874.
Brother Fritz Listemann also joined the Theodore Thomas Orchestra as a
first violinist. Then in 1875, Bernard Listemann became
Concertmaster, and in 1880 conductor of the Philharmonic Club of Boston,
a semi-professional orchestra organized before the Boston Symphony
The Philharmonic Club and the Harvard
Musical Association were the two primary symphonic groups, along with the
Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra prior to the organization of the Boston
Symphony. Fritz Listemann played violin in the Philharmonic Club
orchestra. In the 1870s, Bernard Listemann also organized and conducted
other orchestral groups in Boston. One such group was the Listemann
Concert Company, modeled after the Theodore Thomas touring orchestra.
However, none of the Listemann groups survived.
This activity led to Bernard Listemann becoming the first Concertmaster of
the newly formed Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1881. Fritz Listemann
similarly joined the Boston Symphony from 1881-1885.
Wilhelm Gericke then became Music Director of the Boston Symphony in
1884. In the summer of 1885 between his first and second
seasons, Gericke in Europe is said to have hired some 20 new orchestral
musicians for the Boston Symphony. This led to important changes
in the Orchestra, including the replacement of Bernard Listemann by
Franz Kneisel, as well as the replacement of Fritz Listemann among the
first violins 26. In 1893, Bernard Listemann relocated to
Chicago, where he became head of the violin department at the Chicago
School of Music 89. After relocating to Chicago, in the 1890s
Bernard Listemann also organized the Listemann String Quartet (or Quartette
as it was often called in that era), consisting
of Bernard Listemann first,
Bruno Kuehn second,
Eugene Boegner (1870- ) viola,
Bruno Steindel, cello. Kuehn, Boegner, and Steindel were all
musicians in the Chicago Orchestra at the time. Later, the composition of
the Listemann String Quartette was
Bernard Listemann first, Harold Knapp second, Hugo Frey viola,
Franz Wagner cello 184. Bernard Listemann
continued to head the violin curriculum at the Chicago School from 1893-1911,
after which time he retired. Bernard Listemann died in Chicago
February 11, 1917, age 75.
Franz Kneisel was born in Bucharest, Romania January 26, 1865 of a
Rumanian father and French mother. He studied with Jakob Grün
(famous teacher born 1837) at the Vienna Conservatory. In
1883, Kneisel became Concertmaster of the Bilse Orchestra of Berlin.
Then Kneisel emigrated to the U.S. in September, 1885 to become Concertmaster
of the Boston Symphony under Gericke and Nikisch, and to form the Kneisel
String Quartet, one of the most famous quartets of its time, a decade before
the Flonzaley Quartet. The initial members of the Kneisel Quartet from
1885-1887 were Franz Kneisel first,
Emanuel Fiedler second,
cello. Louis Svecenski remained viola during the
career of the Kneisel Quartet, but Fritz Giese was eventually dropped due
to his unfortunate alcoholism, from which he died at age only 37
157. The Kneisel Quartet from 1885-1917 pioneered
the appreciation in the United States of the rich literature of the string
quartet, including not only a full variety of contemporary composers, but
also of Beethoven and Haydn. The Kneisel Quartet also made at least
one recording for Columbia (Columbia 47138) in 1917 56.
There is an interesting story that
, violist for more than 20 years in the quartet would ask, when he heard
complements about a particular string quartet in a work of romantic or
contemporary music: "Yes, but how was their Haydn?"
Franz Kneisel resigned from the Boston Symphony at the end of the 1902-1903
season so as to devote himself full time to the Kneisel Quartet
which traveled to all parts of the U.S. In 1896, the Kneisel Quartet
toured England. The Kneisel Quartet was playing the Debussy quartet
only ten years after its composition, and also played the George W. Chadwick
Quartet in 1902 in support of American music. In 1905, Franz Kneisel
became head of the String Department at the Institute of Musical Art (later
Juilliard). In 1917, Kneisel disbanded his quartet so as to
devote all his time to teaching. As a string teacher, Franz Kneisel
said that his teaching was devoted to "...training violinists to be
musicians rather than virtuosos..." 146. After a
rich career equally important as a performer and as a teacher,
Franz Kneisel died in New York City on Mach 26, 1926.
Famous joke picture of Arbós Quartet (Arbós on left) in 1887
Enrique Fernández Arbós was born in Madrid December 24, 1863.
He studied at the Madrid Conservatoire under the great Spanish
teacher, Jesus de Monasterio (1836-1903). Arbós
then studied violin in Brussels under Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881),
and composition under François-Auguste Gevaert (1828-1908). He
then moved to Berlin to study with Joachim for 3 years. Arbós was also
Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, and spent five years in
Germany. In the late 1880s, he taught violin at the Hamburg
Conservatory. In about 1890, he returned to the Madrid Conservatoire to
teach violin. Then, he moved to London to teach at the
Royal College of Music 1894 – 1916. During this period in
England, he also toured with the singers Edward Lloyd (1845-1927)
and Charles Santley (1834-1922). When he moved to Boston to become
Concertmaster for the 1903-1904 season, he continued his chamber
music activities. In Boston in 1903 he performed the
Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio with Harold Bauer, piano and
, cello. At the end of the Boston 1903-1904 season, Arbós moved back
to Spain and became principal conductor of the Orchestra of the Gran
Casino of San Sebastián. Then in 1905, Arbós moved back to
London, where he founded the 'Concert Club' which premiered many new
works, including those of Frank Bridge (Benjamin Britten's teacher),
with whom Arbós also formed a String Quartet, with Arbós as first
violin and Bridge as second. In 1914 Arbós moved back to Spain
to settle finally. In Madrid he created a string quartet with
Julio Francés, Juan Ruiz Cassaux, and José Vianna do Motta. Enrique
Fernández Arbós was the long-time conductor of the Madrid Symphony Orchestra
1904-1938. As well as being a composer of orchestral works and a comic
opera, Enrique Arbós is remembered for his orchestrations sections of
Albéniz's Iberia, which he did at Albéniz's request. Enrique
Fernández Arbós died in San Sebastián, Spain on June 2, 1939, just after
the end of the Spanish civil war.
Willy Hess while in Manchester at the Hallé Orchestra circa 1891
Willy Hess was born July 14, 1859 in Mannheim, Germany. From 1876-1878,
Hess studied with Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) in Berlin. In 1878,
Willy Hess became Concertmaster at the Frankfurt Opera (the Alte Oper Frankfurt).
During two seasons, 1886-1888 Willy Hess was Concertmaster of the orchestra in Rotterdam
(before the current Rotterdam Philharmonic) and taught at the Rotterdam Conservatory.
Willy Hess was then for seven seasons, 1888-1895, Concertmaster of the Hallé Orchestra
in Manchester, leaving after the famous Music Director Sir Charles Hallé died.
Willy Hess returned to Germany, and 1895-1903, was eight seasons in Cologne. Hess
taught at the Cologne Conservatory (Conservatorium der Musik) and was Concertmaster of
the Gürzenich Orchestra. Hess then returned to England, where he taught violin at
the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1903. In 1904, on the departure of
Enrique Fernández Arbós, Wilhelm Gericke invited Willy Hess to come to Boston.
Willy Hess became the fourth Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony in the 1904-1905
season. He remained in the first chair for six seasons. At the end of the
1909-1910 season, Willy Hess resigned from the Boston Symphony to return to Germany,
where he became premier violin instructor at the famous Berlin Akademische Hochschule
für Musik, succeeding Karl Halir (or Karel Halíř 1859-1909). Willy Hess
was a friend of Max Bruch (1838-1920) and premiered several of Max Bruch’s works for
violin and viola. Willy Hess died in Berlin February 17, 1939. Violin
students of Willy Hess in Berlin included Adolf Busch (1891-1952 and father-in-law
of Rudolf Serkin) and Arthur Fiedler, before he returned to Boston.
Carl (or Karl) Wendling was born August 10, 1875 in Strasbourg, France
(but then called "Straßburg", being part of Germany).
His father, Georg Wendling was also a musician. Carl Wendling
lived for many years in Stuttgart, Germany, where he also taught at
the Conservatory. Carl Wendling was Concertmaster of the Boston
Symphony for one season, 1907-1908 season, under Karl Muck. In
Germany, according to Robin Stowell in his Cambridge
Companion to the String Quartet, Carl Wending in Stuttgart
was a successor to Joseph Joachim in forming a long-term and successful
string quartet. This was following World War 1, named after
Carl Wending. The quartet consisted of Carl Wendling, first,
Hans Michaelis, second, Philipp Neeter, viola, and Alfred Saal, cello
had been Principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra for
two seasons 1904-1906. The Max Reger (1873-1916) Clarinet
Quintet was dedicated to Carl Wendling, and given its premier
by the Wendling String Quartet 14. The Wendling
Quartet also toured the U.S. in 1922 94. Richard
Aldrich, famous New York Times critic wrote that Carl Wendling
"...hardly seems to be the strong and incisive personality as the
leader of a string quartet should be..." 85, yet he
gave the group a good review. (I am not sure that first violins
of successful string quartets are usually "incisive
personalities", thinking of the Kneisel, the Flonzaley,
the Capet, the Budapest, etc.) The Wendling String Quartet
made a number of recordings in Germany in the late 1920s.
Carl Wendling died on March 27, 1962 in Stuttgart, Germany, age
Anton Witek: detail of 1914 photo Boston Symphony Archives, and
Berlin caricature circa 1909
Anton Witek was born in Saaz (east of
Graz), Austria January 7, 1872. Witek studied violin with Antonin Bennewitz
(or Benevic in the Czech spelling, 1833-1926), Director of the Prague Conservatory.
Some of Bennewitz's other violin pupils were Franz Lehar and Josef Suk.
Anton Witek was Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic 1894-1909 28.
In Berlin in 1903, Witek founded the Berlin Philharmonic Trio, including with his
Swedish pianist wife Avita Witek, and with
Joseph Malkin, later Principal cello of the Boston
Symphony. Witek came to Boston, eventually to stay, in October, 1910
to take up the Concertmaster position with
. Anton Witek, Avita Witek, and Joseph Malkin also formed a trio in
Boston during the 1910s. Witek resigned as Concertmaster of
the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1918, after which he taught
violin in Boston. See
his picture below
showing the string section leaders for the 1913-1914 season.
Anton Witek died in Boston in August, 1933.
Fredric 'Freddy' Fradkin was born in Troy, New York on April 24,
1892 of Russian parents. Fradkin studied violin with
(1857-1937), who was also briefly a BSO violin (2 weeks !), Leopold Lichtenberg
(1866–1945). Beginning in 1908, at age sixteen, Fradkin was
admitted to the Paris Conservatoire, where he won the violin Premier prix
in the 1910 Concour. Fradkin was briefly Concertmaster in Bordeaux
and Monte Carlo, and also studied with Ysaÿe in 1911. Fredric Fradkin
then played in 1912 with the Wiener Concert-Verein (Vienna Concert Society
Orchestra, after 1933 called the "Vienna Symphony") in 1912.
In 1914-1915 Fradkin was Concertmaster of the
Russian Symphony Orchestra of New York
, under Modest Altschuler. Freddy Fradkin then joined the Diaghilev
Ballet Russe orchestra in their 1916 U.S. tour, conducted by Pierre Monteux.
Fredric Fradkin became Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony in
the 1918-1919 season under Henri Rabaud. At this time, the impact
of the warfare of World War 1 on public thinking was ever-growing, which
generated significant anti-German sentiments. The concert public
considered Fredric Fradkin as being the first US-born Concertmaster of
a major U.S. orchestra - seen as an important event, subject of much
comment. (Perhaps they had forgotten
Nahan Franco, Metropolitan Opera Concertmaster
1883-1907, and brother of Freddy Fradkin's teacher Sam Franco.)
The next season, Pierre Monteux became conductor beginning 1919-1920.
In this 1919-1920 season, the orchestra musicians sought to unionize
and gain wage increases, which Fradkin as Concertmaster supported.
Feelings escalated into March, 1920. On March 5, 1920, there was
a confrontation in which Fredric Fradkin remained in his seat when
Pierre Monteux gestured to the Orchestra to rise to recognize the
audience applause for their performance of Berlioz's 'Sinfonie fantastique'.
This caused a sensation, and that evening Fradkin was summarily
dismissed by the orchestra Board80. Following this
spectacular event, Fradkin had a minimal later role in
the concert world. 1922-1924, he was Concertmaster of the
New York Capital Orchestra, a well-known theater orchestra (Eugene
Ormandy became Concertmaster of the Capital Orchestra a few years
later). Freddy Fradkin also toured in Europe in 1924.
Fradkin became a freelance radio orchestra musician, and later
opened a restaurant in New York City. For the next 35 years,
Freddy Fradkin was not active in music concerts. Fredric Fradkin
died in New York in 1963, age 71 after a varied, if perhaps blighted
There is a famous story (told many times, but still good) involving
two leading violinists, Freddy Fradkin and Mischa Elman, attending
a Jacha Heifetz concert with the famous wit and pianist Leopold
Godowsky. One Saturday afternoon, 27th October 1917,
Carnegie Hall was filled to hear the sixteen-year old violin
sensation, Jascha Heifetz. Godowsky, his wife Dagmar
and violinists Fradkin and Elman were seated in their box.
Heifetz successfully performed a dazzling concert. At the
interval, Godowsky's party retired to the open area behind their
box. Elman wiped his brow, and said "Phew, it's awfully
hot in there !" Godowsky, with his famous quick wit
replied "Not for pianists !".
Richard Burgin was born October 11, 1892 in Warsaw, Poland (at
that time, part of the Russian Empire). Burgin began
the study of violin at age 6. After study with local teachers
and with the Polish violinist Isidor Lotto (1840-circa 1900), in 1903,
Burgin moved to Germany to study with Joseph Joachim at the
Berlin Akademische Hochschule für Musik. Bergin's first public
performance was in 1904, age 11 with the Warsaw Philharmonic.
Then, 1908-1912, he studied with Leopold Auer at the
St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he graduated in 1912, winning
the Siver prize in violin in that year 67. Burgin
became Concertmaster of the Warsaw Philharmonic in 1914. He
was Concertmaster of the Oslo (at that time Christiania) Norway Symphony
in 1915, and of the Stockholm, Sweden Concert Society in 1916-1919.
Burgin came to the U.S. in 1920 to join the Boston Symphony. During
the 1920s and 1930s, Burgin went to Paris every summer, according to ship
records. Burgin also served as Assistant Conductor of the BSO beginning
in 1927. In fact, according the the New York Times obituary,
Bergin conducted the BSO in 308 different concerts. Burgin taught violin
for many years at the New England Conservatory, where he became the
Conservatory Orchestra conductor in 1953, and and at the Berkshire Music
Center, where he taught conducting. The also conducted the
Portland, Maine symphony. In 1940, Burgin married the Massachusetts
born Ruth Posselt (September 6, 1914-February 19, 2007), 22 years
his junior and a violin virtuoso student of
Frantisek Ondricek (1857-1922). Richard Burgin had the
somewhat amusing reputation of being personally absent-minded, and of
not being concerned about clothes, both in formal wear, and in details,
such as remembering to wear a concert necktie. Although forgetful,
Burgin was also a champion-level Bridge player. Burgin was much admired
by his colleagues. Burgin retired from the Boston Symphony at the
end of the 1961-1962 season. He moved south to Florida, where he and
his wife Ruth Burgin taught at Florida State University. Burgin
also conducted the Florida State Chamber Orchestra.
Richard Burgin suffered a stroke in January, 1981 67,
and died 3 months later in St. Petersburg, Florida April 29, 1981.
Joseph Silverstein was born in Detroit,
Michigan in March, 1932. Silverstein first studied with his father, Ben
Silverstein who had himself studied with Franz Kneisel at the Institute
for Musical Art (Juilliard) 3. Joseph was left handed,
but his father taught him to play right handed. In about 1945-1946,
Silverstein studied with Josef Gingold who was at that time
Concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony. Silverstein was admitted to the
Curtis Institute in Philadelphia in 1946, where he studied with Ephram
Zimbalist. Silverstein was expelled from the Curtis Institute in
1950, at age 17. He later said "I was too distracted by
"girls and baseball" 4. After leaving Curtis,
he played with the Houston Symphony 1950-1953, and with the Philadelphia
Orchestra in the 1953-1954 season. Silverstein returned to
Detroit, and began study with Detroit Symphony Concertmaster
, whom Silverstein said transformed his attitude toward preparation
and playing. Joe Silverstein then went to the Denver Symphony
as Concertmaster and Assistant conductor for one season, 1954-1955.
Next year, Joseph Silverstein joined the Boston Symphony in
the 1955-1956 season taking the last chair of the second violins.
As unusual as such a progression was, Joseph Silverstein
gradually moved up in the violin section until he was appointed
Concertmaster in the 1962-1963 season. Silverstein remained
Concertmaster for 21 season, until the end of 1983-1984.
During the time that
was still with the Boston Symphony, Silverstein said
he was a mentor to him. Beginning in 1971, Silverstein was
Assistant Conductor of the BSO, in which capacity, he conducted the
Orchestra more than 100 times. In the 1980s, Joe Silverstein was
appointed appointed Principal Conductor of the orchestras at New England
Conservatory. He also helped found the Boston Symphony Chamber
Players in 1962 and served as its Music Director until 1983. In
1983, during his final season with the Boston Symphony, Silverstein was
appointed conductor of the Utah Symphony on a trial basis, where he
remained as Music Director until 1998. Now, well into his
seventies, Silverstein is active as Professor of violin at the Curtis
Malcolm Lowe with his second favorite instrument (he is a top golfer)
Malcolm Lowe joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as Concertmaster in 1984,
only the tenth Concertmaster in its nearly 130 year history.
Malcolm Lowe was born in born in July, 1953 in Hamiota, Manitoba
(about 200 km west of Winnipeg) to musical parents. Lowe's
father was a violinist and his mother a singer. Lowe moved
with his family to Regina, Saskatchewan at the age of nine.
In Regina, he studied at the Conservatory of Music with
Australia-born Howard Leyton-Brown (1918- ), Concertmaster of the London
Philharmonic 1951-1952 and long-time director of the Regina
Conservatory. Malcolm Low then later studied at the
Meadowmount School of Music, a summer music camp in
up-state New York, founded by Ivan Galamian (1903-1981) who was
also a famous Juilliard teacher. Later, Malcolm Lowe was
admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music. After graduation
from Curtis, Lowe was Concertmaster of l'Orchestre symphonique
de Québec in Québec-City in the late 1970s. When Joseph Silverstein
left the Boston Symphony, Malcolm Lowe won the competition to
replace him. Malcolm Lowe joined the Boston Symphony
in the 1984-1985 season, only the third Concertmaster
of the Boston Symphony since 1920, when Richard Burgin took
the first chair position. Since coming to Boston, Malcolm Lowe
has taught at the Tanglewood Music Center, and at the New England
Conservatory and Boston University, as well as presumably getting in a
number of rounds of golf (a passion at which he may match his 46 year BSO
violin colleague Leo Panasevich 1951-1997). In his playing, and in
interviews, after more than two decades as Concertmaster in Boston, Malcolm
Lowe still shows his enthusiasm and engagement in music making.
Quick Navigation: Click Below to Jump to Desired Location
Boston Symphony Principal String Players, 1921-1922 Season Boston Symphony Archives
standing: Max Kunze, bass, Julius Theodoriwicz, Assistant Concertmaster,
Fernand Thillois, Principal second violin
seated: Georges Fourel, Principal viola, Richard Burgin, Concertmaster, Jean Bedetti,
Principal cello, Alfred Holý, harp
Principal Cellists Boston Symphony Orchestra
Special thanks to Brian Bell, musician, commentator and BSO historian
and expert on the symphony orchestra for information on the Boston cellists
and other topics.
1881-1882 Wulf Fries
Wulf Christian Julius Fries, the first Principal cello of the
Boston Symphony was born in the far north of Germany in what was then
the Duchy of Holstein (prior to the unification of Germany) near the
Danish border on January 10, 1825. As a cellist, his first training
was with his father, an amateur musician. Fries then went to
Ploen, also in the Duchy of Holstein to study music and the cello.
In 1842, with his older brother August Fries, he relocated to Bergen, Norway
where they both played in the Bergen orchestra. Their
experiences in Bergen were said to have been difficult (although
August Fries in later life moved back to Bergen). Then, in 1847
the brothers emigrated to Boston, Wulf Fries still being only 22 years
old. In Boston, Wulf Fries played in many groups, including even
the Germania Serenade Band (named after the
Germania Orchestra) where
he played the trombone (Fries played several
instruments) 194. Wulf Fries was one of
the leading pioneers of orchestral and chamber music
playing in the United States. Before 1890,
such groups and such musicians were a rare breed. Soon after
arriving in Boston, in 1849 Wulf Fries was a founding musician of the
Mendelssohn Quintette Club, in which he served for
Mendelssohn Quintette Club
The Mendelssohn Quintette Club, started Boston in December, 1849
137 was one of the earliest successful and long-term
chamber groups in the
US, when orchestral music was virtually non-existent. The
Philharmonic Society in New York was performing only 4 concerts per
season until 1858 144, and the Boston Orchestral Union the
same. The Harvard Musical Association was not organized for
concerts until 1865 138. However, the Mendelssohn
Quintette Club was performing more frequently in Boston, and also touring
New England states. In later years, they toured widely.
For example, in 1881 and 1882, they toured Ohio, Indiana,
Illinois 204, Utah, California and Australia
205. The initial members of the Mendelssohn Quintette
Club included many of the handful of orchestral musicians of the US (almost)
able to make a living from playing the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and
Mendelssohn. This initial group included August Fries violin,
Francis Riha violin, Edward Lehman viola and flute,
viola and clarinet,
cello 137. Thomas Ryan and Wulf Fries, along with
the Heindls, were later among the first members of the Boston Symphony.
Soon thereafter joined two musicians from the original Germania
Society, both violinists:
(1827-1888) who was leader of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club
1859-1878. Later members of the Mendelssohn Quintette Club included
flute and viola,
cello. All of these pioneers joined the Boston Symphony
Orchestra, except Rudolf Hennig, who became Principal cello of the
Philadelphia Orchestra in 1900. The Mendelssohn Quintette Club
deserves a book just covering its fifty years of activity covering
the very first professional group in the US to devote itself to
classical chamber music.
click on this thumbnail to see full picture of the
Mendelssohn Quintette Club in 1849: August Fries, first violin,
Edward Lehman, flute and viola, Wulf Fries, cello, Thomas Ryan,
clarinet and viola, Francis Riha, second violin
Wulf Fries was also a
member of the Beethoven Quartette in 1873
composed of pioneering Boston musicians
Charles Allen, first,
Julius Akeroyd, second,
Henry Heindl Sr, viola,
Wulf Fries, cello 134, all of
whom were later Boston Symphony musicians.
Wulf Fries also played in all of the early Boston musical
groups, including the Boston Musical Fund Society, the Harvard Orchestral
Association, Handel and the Haydn Society Orchestra
136). Analysis by Brian Bell concludes that
Wulf Fries left the Boston Symphony in January, 1882, and that
he was likely succeeded in the Principal cello chair by
Carl Bayrhoffer. Wulf Fries continued his teaching, and died
in suburban Boston on April 19, 1902, age 77 after a full
This may be Carl Bayrhoffer in this
1882 photo collage of the Boston Symphony
Carl Bayrhoffer was born in Germany, probably in about 1840,
and studied in Leipzig, where he
was active with the Gesangverein Concordia198
in choral concerts. Bayrhoffer joined the cello section of
the Boston Symphony in the initial 1881-1882 season, perhaps in
the second cello chair. Upon the departure of Wulf Fries
in January 1882, Carl Bayrhoffer seems to have become Principal cello
of the Boston Symphony for the final portion of the 1881-1882
season. Bayrhoffer's featured performances of the 1881-1882
season, the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto opus 33 were not well
received by the critics 199, 200 - unusual for the
typically favorable critical style of that era. Bayrhoffer was
also a composer, and published Five Songs Without Words
for cello and piano: Wiegenlied (lullaby), Gondellied
(gondola song), Canzonetta, Reverie, and
Mückentanz (dance of the mosquitoes).
score of Bayrhoffer's Five Songs Without Words
The next season, 1884-1885, Carl Bayrhoffer seems to have been teaching
at the New York College of Music, where he gave several performances
of chamber music 197 and performed at a summer resort
in Pennsylvania in 1885. After leaving the U.S.,
Carl Bayrhoffer went on to be Principal cello of the
Glasgow (Scotland) Orchestra 196 in the early 1900s.
Alexander C. Heindl, Edward Martin Heindl, and
and Henry Heindl and the Boston Symphony
The Heindl (or Heind'l) family produced a number of leading musicians
who served with the Boston Symphony.
Alexander Heindl was born into this musical family in
Bavaria, Germany on June 25, 1835. The Heindl father had
been a musician, playing the flute and other instruments.
Alexander and his younger
brothers Edward Martin Heindl (1837-1896) and Henry Heindl
(1843-after 1899) were all musicians, and all eventually were musicians
of the Boston Symphony. In the first Boston Symphony season, Alexander
was joined the cello section, Edward was named Principal flute, and
Henry joined the viola section in the second chair. Alexander Heindl had had a
distinguished career in Europe, playing cello in the Vienna Philharmonic
in the 1860s, when the orchestra was building its season length.
The Heindl brothers emigrated to the U.S. in March, 1868.
Alexander, Edward, and Henry all played in the Handel & Haydn
Society Orchestra 136, the primary Boston music group prior
to the organization of the Boston Symphony. Alexander and Edward
Heindl also played cello in the Mendelssohn Quintette Club for two
seasons137. Alexander Heindl remained with the
cello section until the end of the 1893-1894 season, when he retired,
age 64. However, his nephew,
Alexander Heindl Jr,
son of Henry Heindl joined the Boston Symphony and served 1900-1907.
Müller String Quartet: (l to r) Karl Müller first, Hugo Müller second,
Bernhard Müller viola, Wilhelm Müller cello
Wilhelm Müller was born in the Duchy of Brunswick in central Germany
on June 1, 1834. He was one of the four musician
sons of the famous German violinist Karl Friedrich Müller
(1797-1873) who was one of the pioneers in the performance
of Beethoven Quartets 203. In 1856, the eldest
son of Karl Friedrich Müller, Karl, followed in his father's
footsteps forming the Müller String Quartet with his brothers.
The quartet was made up of Karl Müller first (1829-1907),
Hugo Müller second (1832-1886), Bernhard Müller viola (1832-1895),
and Wilhelm Müller cello (1834-1897). The new quartet quickly gained
a Europe-wide renown and was appointed Court Quartet to the
Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. It performed a number of premieres,
including works by Joseph Joachim Raff (1822-1882).
For three years, 1873-1876, Müller was
a cello instructor at the Musikhochschule Berlin under
Joseph Joachim, where one of his leading pupils was the (later)
famous cellist Robert Hausmann (1852-1909) 201.
During the period 1869-1879, Wilhelm Müller was
cellist in the Joachim Quartet, at that time: Joseph Joachim first,
Heinrich de Ahna second, Emmanuel Wirth viola, Wilhelm Müller cello
202. With this group, Wilhelm Müller gave the
premiere of several works by Brahms and others.
In the 1882-1883 season, Wilhelm Müller joined the Boston Symphony,
appointed by Georg Henschel as Principal cello. Müller
continued with the Boston Symphony for three seasons until the
March, 1885. However, in the 1884-1885 season, conductor
Wilhelm Gericke, who had succeeded Georg Henschel, appointed
Fritz Giese as Principal cello, with Wilhelm Müller presumably
becoming what we would call today Associate Principal cello.
After the 1884-1885 Boston season, Wilhelm Müller remained in the
USA, relocating to New York City, where he died in September, 1897,
Fritz Giese was born in the Hague, Netherlands January 2, 1859. He was son
of the cellist and teacher Joseph Giese (1821-1903). Joseph Giese was born
in Koblenz, Germany and was a student of the Berlin-based cellist and teacher
Moritz Ganz (1802-1868). In about the early 1850s, Joseph Giese accepted
an appointment at the Royal Conservatory of Music in the Hague
(Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag). The interesting information of
of the Nederlands Muziek Instituut website 191 states:
"... [Fritz Giese] studied the cello since age four, first using a
viola as substitute (as we can see in this picture)... ".
As well as Fritz Giese, other students of Joseph Giese included
Anton Hekking, Fritz Giese's successor as Principal cello
of the Boston Symphony. In 1875 at the early age of fifteen, Fritz Giese
graduated from the Royal Conservatory, Hague and went on to further studies
in Paris with Louis-Auguste Jacquard (1832- ). After touring Europe as
a cello soloist in about 1875-1876, Fritz Giese joined the Park Orchestra in
Amsterdam during about 1877-1878. Then, in 1878, Fritz Giese moved to
Boston to join the
Mendelssohn Quintette Club from the initiative of
a program of the Mendelssohn Quintette in 1883
Giese also played in the Philharmonic Club of Boston, prior to the creation of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra. He was also an original member of the
Kneisel Quartet 1885–1889 156. He became dependent on
alcohol, which lead to his gradual deterioration as a musician.
Fritz Giese was a fine cellist, particularly when playing with the
in the 1880s. However "...owing to his unfortunate
drinking habits was seldom heard at his best..." 157.
With the arrival of Arthur Nikisch as conductor of the Boston Symphony
in the 1889-1890 season, it seems that Nikisch had determined on Anton Hekking
as Principal cello. Nikisch had known Anton Hekking as cello of
the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 1882-1888, and he succeeded Giese.
After leaving the Boston Symphony, Giese taught for a time at the
National Conservatory of Music in New York City. However, he returned
to Boston, where he died on August 5, 1896, sadly from illness arising from
his alcoholism. Fritz Giese's artistry was cut short at age only
Anton Hekking was born in the Hague, Netherlands on September 7, 1856
althought the Paris Conservatory records state September 7,
Hekking was from a musical family. He studied first with his
cellist father Robert Gerard Hekking (1820-1875). Hekking was brother
of the cellist André Hekking (1866-1925) long term teacher
at the Paris Conservatoire. He was also cousin of another cellist,
Gérard Hekking (1879-1942). Anton Hekking studied in the Hague with
cellist and teacher Joseph Giese (1821-1903), who was the father and teacher
of Anton Hekking's colleague and Boston predecessor
Fritz Giese. As a youth, Hekking played
with the Utrecht Symphony. Then, Anton Hekking gained
entrance to the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with
Pierre-François-Alexandre Chevillard (1811-1877) and Louis-Auguste
Jacquard (1832- ) from 1873-1878. Anton Hekking won the
Conservatoire Premier prix for cello in the 1878 Concour
209. Following graduation,
Anton Hekking toured the U.S. with the Russian pianist Anna Yesipova
(1851-1914). Then, returning to Europe, in 1880, Anton Hekking
was Principal cello for the Bilse Orchestra of Berlin at about the same
time as Franz Kneisel was Concertmaster of that orchestra. Hekking
was one of the 54 musicians who founded the Berlin Philharmonic in 1882,
after breaking away from the orchestra of conductor Benjamin Bilse
(1816-1902) 132. Anton Hekking was Principal cello of
the Berlin Philharmonic for six seasons, 1882-1888, with a short break
to tour Europe with Eugène Ysaÿe. During this period, Anton
Hekking had a reputation in the orchestra of a practical joker, which
is said to have caused some tension within the Philharmonic, and led
to Hekking's departure in 1888. In 1889, when Arthur Nikisch
became director of the Boston Symphony, he selected Anton Hekking as
Principal cello, presumably knowing him from Berlin. Hekking
remained as Principal cello in Boston for two seasons, 1889-1891.
During this time, Hekking was also cello of the Kneisel String Quartet
131. Anton Hekking then went to the New York Symphony
as Principal cello for two seasons, 1891-1893 130. In
1902, Anton Hekking returned to Berlin, but according to Cesar Saerchinger's
interesting biography of Artur Schnabel, Hekking was not welcome to
return to the Berlin Philharmonic. '...[Hekking] had exercised
his curious sense of humor on many occasions...now, having returned...
[he] gladly followed the suggestion to take young Artur Schnabel as
a partner...' 133. So was created the Hekking Trio
which continued seven seasons, 1902-1909. The Hekking trio
consisted 1902-1907 of Hekking with Artur Schnabel, piano and Alfred
Wittenberg (1880-1952), violin. During 1907-1909, American
pianist Clarence Adler (1886-1969) succeeded Arthur Schnabel in the
trio. The concerts of the trio followed the Bilse Orchestra
format with tables and beer served with the music. These
programs sold well for the seven years they continued. Anton
Hekking also taught at the Stern Conservatory, Berlin, where he died
after a full and colorful career on November 18, 1935.
Alwin Schroeder with the Kneisel Quartet circa 1903
Franz Kneisel violin, Alwin Schroeder cello, Louis Svecenski viola,
Julius Theodorowicz violin
Alwin Schroeder (or Schröder) was born in Neuhaldensleben, Germany
on June 15, 1855 into a musical family. Alwin Schroeder was
initially violist in the Schroeder family quartet, with his older
brother Karl as cello. Karl Schroeder was later Professor of cello
at the Leipzig Conservatory, and he encouraged his brother Alwin to
pursue the cello. Alwin Schroeder loved the sound of the cello and
initially taught himself. Alwin first studied the viola at the
Berlin Akademische Hochschule für Musik, while continuing with the
cello. Following graduation, Schroeder’s first orchestral cello
engagements were 1875-1876 in the Karl Liebig orchestra in Berlin.
Then, 1876-1880, Alwin Schroeder played cello with the Laube
Kappelle, Hamburg. This led to Alwin Schroeder in 1880 being
appointed co-Principal cello with the famous cellist Julius Klengel
(1859-1933) of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra.
Julius Klengel whose students included Piatigorsky,
Feuermann, and his colleague Alwin Schroeder
During his time at the Leipzig Gewandhaus 1880-1890, Alwin Schroeder also
began teaching at the Leipzig Conservatory after his brother Karl had left
to become Kapellmeister in Sondershausen in central Germany. Alwin
Schroeder then toured in Germany and Russia. In the 1891-1892
season, Alwin Schneider joined the newly formed Boston Symphony
Orchestra as Principal cello, where he stayed initially for 12
seasons. During this time, he advised Dvorak on his cello concerto
(1894-1895). In 1903, Franz Kneisel, Concertmaster of the Boston
Symphony asked Schroeder to also join the
, with which Kneisel, Theodorowicz, Svecenski, and Schroeder toured the U.S.
Alwin Schroeder left the Kneisel Quartet in the Spring of 1907 to
return to Germany, where he taught cello at the Dr. Hoch
Konservatorium for a year in Frankfurt 49. Schroeder then
returned to the U.S. in the Summer of 1908 to Boston where he again
became Principal cello with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for two
seasons 1910-1912. 1912-1918, Alwin Schroeder may have been with
the New York Symphony. During this period, Schroeder played with
Willy Hess violin and Lionel Tertis, in the Hess Quartet. Schroeder
also replaced Leo Schulz in the Margulies Trio. During the 1910-1912,
Schroeder played with the Boston String Quartet. In the 1918-1919
season, Alwin Schroeder returned to the Boston Symphony as Principal
cello. He remained with Boston for another 7 seasons until
the end of the 1924-1925 season. In the mid 1920s, Schroeder taught
cello at the New York Institute for Musical Art (Juilliard).
Alwin Schroeder died in Boston, October 17, 1928.
Rudolf Krasselt was born in Baden-Baden, Germany January 1, 1879.
He came from a musical family.  Rudolf Krasselt was the son of
George Krasselt, Concertmaster of the Philharmonie Baden-Baden. His
older brother, Albert Krasselt (1872-1908) was a violinist, Concertmaster
of the Staatskapelle Weimar Orchestra, and later a conductor. Rudolf
Krasselt began cello study at age 9. In 1897, Rudolf Krasselt played
at the first desk of the Berlin Philharmonic under Artur Nikisch.
The next season Rudolf Krasselt next became Principal cello of the
Berlin Philharmonic in 1898 at age 19. In about 1900, Krasselt
became Principal cello at the Vienna Hofoper, as the Vienna State Opera
(Wiener Staatsoper) was known at that time, and from which the Vienna
Philharmonic was a subset. The book Gustav Mahler: Vienna :
Triumph and Disillusion (1904-1907)221 states:
"…In 1902, Mahler had engaged [as Principal cello]
Rudolf Krasselt, a young cellist from the Berlin Philharmonic.
The other musicians [of the Vienna Philharmonic] were indignant
that such a young man should immediately be given the rank
of soloist, and they made life so hard for him that he
resigned after only six months…"
Rudolf Krasselt moved to Boston in 1903 to assume the
solo cello chair for the 1903-1904 season. He was not able
to join the Boston Symphony until October, 1903 joining only at the
second concert of the season due to German military service 41.
Krasselt was Principal cello of the Boston Symphony for only one seasons
1903-1904 under Gericke. When he left the orchestra, in 1904,
the New York Times stated that Krasselt was preparing himself for a
conducting career 52. The remainder of Krasselt's career
was in fact as a conductor. From 1911-1913 Krasselt was Kapellmeister
of the Kiel Opera. In 1913, Krasselt was appointed conductor of
the German Opera (Deutsche Oper) located in Charlottenburg, then still
a separate suburb of Berlin. Beginning in 1920, Rudolf Krasselt
taught conducting at the Berlin Akademische Hochschule für Musik,
where Kurt Weill (1900-1950) and Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996)
were among his students. Willy Hess, former BSO Concertmaster
was also teaching at the Berlin Akademische Hochschule für Musik
at the same time. Krasselt conducted the Stockholm Symphony
Orchestra in 1924. Krasselt in later years concentrated on
conducting. He was for many years (1924-1943) conductor
(Music Director not then a title) of the Staatsoper Hannover,
which he also conducted at some times in the 1950s.
There was an interesting letter in a recent auction from
Arnold Rosé, but written in Gustav Mahler's hand, withdrawing an
invitation to Rudolf Krasselt to assume the cello position in the
famous Rosé Quartet. The letter is described as "...citing an
unpleasant situation between Krasselt's brother (Concertmaster in
Weimar) and his behavior toward Arnold's brother Eduard Rosé..."
15. Krasselt died in Hannover, Germany in 1954.
Otto Urack in 1914: detail of BSO photo Boston Symphony Archives
Otto Urack was born in Berlin, Germany on May 13, 1884 of a Hungarian
family. He was trained in Berlin both as a cellist and pianist.
He studied cello with Robert Hausmann (1852- ) at the Berlin
Akademische Hochschule für Musik, and he studied harmony with Engelbert
Humperdinck. In 1903-1906, Otto Urack was appointed Principal
cello with the orchestra of the Royal Court Opera, Berlin ('Königliche
Hofoper', renamed 'Staatsoper unter den Linden' after the the fall of
the Kaiser) 71. In 1906, Otto Urack was appointed
Principal cello of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, where perhaps Karl
Muck was exposed to his talents. In 1906, Urack conducted the
Berlin Philharmonic in his own works including 'Fantasia for Orchestra'
72. In 1911, Otto Urack was appointed conductor of
the Stadttheater of Barmen-Elberfeld (renamed Wuppertal after 1930),
near Stuttgart. This was the same opera theater at which
learned his conducting 15 years previously. In the 1912-1913 season,
Urack joined the Boston Symphony under Karl Muck as associate conductor and
Co-Principal cello 70, seated at the stand next to Principal cello
Heinrich Warnke, and with Urack listed second in the Boston Symphony programs.
Beginning the next season, Otto Urack also conducted the Boston Pops
concerts. In 1914, Otto Urack conducted the premiere of his Symphony no 1 in E,
opus 14 with the Boston Symphony. Urack continued as Co-Principal cello
until the end of the 1913-1914 season. While in Boston, Otto Urack
pursued conducting, as he also did later in Europe. While in Boston,
Otto Urack was conductor of the Boston Pops concerts, alson with
André Maquarre during 1912-1914. Prior to
World War 1, Otto Urack relocated back to Germany. In Berlin,
Otto Urack was a staff conductor at the Royal Court Opera, Berlin prior to
World War 1, and following the war with the re-named Berlin State Opera
167 into the 1920s, serving with Leo Blech (1871-1958)
and Fritz Steidry (1883-1968). Also in Berlin in the early
1920s, he played chamber music and accompanied several leading
singers in concerts from the piano. Otto Urack also conducted
some of the earliest radio broadcast concerts (beginning October, 1923)
transmitted by the VOX-Haus broadcasting station in Berlin.
In 1923, also for VOX, Otto Urack conducted an acoustical recording
of the Beethoven Symphony no 5 with the 'VOX Symphony Orchestra'
(on VOX 01269-72). Otto Urack later relocated to Dresden.
In the 1930s he was a conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden, the
orchestra of the Sächsische Staatsoper (State Opera of Saxony).
Otto Urack in the 1930s also composed some film music.
Heinrich Warnke was born in Wesselburen (north of Hamburg), Germany
in 1870. At age 12, he entered the Hamburg Conservatory where he
studied cello with Albert Gowa (1843-after 1918). In about 1887,
Warnke went to Leipzig where he played with the great Gewandhaus
Orchestra. Prior to Boston, Heinrich Warnke was from 1897-1905
104 Principal cello of the 'Kaim Orchestra' in Munich,
predecessor to today's Munich Philharmonic. In the 1905-1906
season, after the resignation of Rudolph Krasselt, Warnke came to
Boston to become Principal cello at the Boston Symphony. Heinrich
Warnke's brother, Johannes Warnke (born in Germany December 3, 1871) also
joined the Boston Symphony that same season. Johannes Warnke remaining
with the Boston Symphony for ten seasons, 1908-1918, 1919-1939. Heinrich
Warnke remained Principal cello of the Boston Symphony for nine seasons.
At the end of the 1913-1914 season, perhaps due to the return of Karl Muck,
Heinrich Warnke was succeeded by Joseph Malkin as Principal cello. Warnke,
however, remained with the Boston Symphony four more seasons, until the end of
the 1917-1918 season. From 1920 until the early 1930s, Heinrich Warnke
was co-Principal cello of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Heinrich
Warnke died in Germany during the summer of 1938.
Joseph Malkin was born in Odessa, Russia (now the Ukraine) September 25,
1879. His first cello teacher starting in 1892 was Ladislas
Alois (circa 1842-circa 1914). In 1895, Malkin entered the
Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under Henri Rabaud (1873-1949),
and received the first prize in cello in 1898. In the Autumn
of 1898, Joseph Malkin toured European countries with his violinist
brother Jacques 27. He made his debut in Berlin
in 1899, and performed there in 1899-1900. He played solo cello
with the Berlin Philharmonic 1902-1908, and during this time played
cello with the Witek trio, with
Anton Witek, later Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony
, and at that time Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic.
In 1908, he left Berlin and joined the Brussels Quartet, and
also toured Europe, seeking to establish a soloist career.
Malkin made his American debut in 1909. Malkin was back
in Germany at the outset of World War 1 in 1914, and Saleski says
that it was Malkin's friendship with Chief of the German General
Staff General Helmuth von Moltke (1848-1916), that allowed Malkin to
gain an exit visa to go to Boston 27. He
joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as Principal cello 1914-1919,
and played as Principal cello in the Chicago Symphony 1919-1922.
In Chicago, he formed a trio with his brothers. In 1924-1925,
Malkin toured accompanying Metropolitan Opera soprano Geraldine
Farrar. 1925-1927, Joseph Malkin was Principal cello with the New
York Symphony under Walter Damrosch. In 1933, the family
founded the Malkin Conservatory of Music in Boston. Schoenberg
taught at the Conservatory for one year (1933-1934) immediately upon
his emigration to the United States. The Malkin Conservatory
closed in 1943, and Joseph Malkin in the 1943-1944 season joined the New
York Philharmonic for six seasons, retiring at the end of the 1948-1949
season. Joseph Malkin died in 1969.
Jean Bedetti was born in Lyon, France December 25, 1883. He began
study with his father, also a cellist and a teacher at the Lyon Conservatory.
In the 1890s, Jean Bedetti won the competition for entrance to the Lyon
Conservatory, where he conditnued studies with his father, a cello
virtuoso. This training allowed Jean Bedetti to be admitted to the Paris
Conservatoire, where he studied cello with Jules Loeb (1852-1933).
At the Conservatoire, Jean Bedetti won cello Premier prix in the 1902
Concour 128. In 1904-1908, Jean Bedetti became Principal
cello of the Orchestra of the Théâtre de l'Opéra Comique (particularly
prized for its good season and regular employment). In 1908, Jean
Bedetti became Principal cello of the Colonne Orchestra. While still
in France, Bedetti first recorded for Pathé in 1908. When Joseph
Malkin left for the Chicago Symphony, Pierre Monteux invited Jean Bedetti
(as well as Frédéric Denayer, viola, the Van Den Berg brothers, and moving
to trumpet Georges Mager, among others) to join the Boston Symphony in the
1919-1920 season. Bedetti was to remain with the Boston Symphony as
Principal cello for twenty-nine seasons. Georges Bedetti was
described by his students as an emotional player. Kermit Moore, a
Bedetti student describes an emotional scene between Bedetti and Koussevitzky.
"...Bedetti became very angry with Koussevitzky because Koussevitzky
had the temerity to say things to Bedetti: 'Bedetti, your notes don't sound.
They don't sound.' And Bedetti said. 'Maître, which notes don't sound?' And
Koussevitzky said. 'The whole thing. The whole thing. The notes just don't
sound,' and so Bedetti was so angry he stormed off the stage. He walked
across the stage and management had to ask him to come back and he
refused. So they asked Koussevitzky if he would apologize to Bedetti?
Koussevitzky said, 'No, I will not apologize. He will come back.'
And Bedetti eventually did come back..." 64
Jean Bedetti retired from the Boston Symphony at the end of
1947-1948, one year before Serge Koussevitzky's retirement, and after twenty
nine seasons as Principal cello. Jean Bedetti moved to Florida, where
he died in Miami on July 25, 1973.
Samuel Houston Mayes was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August
11, 1917. Samuel Mayes had a genuine American west background:
one of his grandfathers was a Cherokee chief, and two Oklahoma
counties were named for his forbearers, Rogers County and Mayes
County. Mayes began early with cello lessons with Max Steindel
(1891-1964), long time Principal cello of the St. Louis Symphony
(42 years with the orchestra). Mayes played at age 8 as soloist
with the St. Louis Symphony under Rudolph Ganz. Samuel Mayes
entered the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia in 1930, where he
studied with Felix Salmond (1888-1952). During the 1930s,
while at Curtis, Samuel Mayes played frequently in the cello section
of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski and Ormandy.
Mayes graduated from Curtis in 1937, and was already
listed in the Philadelphia Orchestra cello section in the
1936-1937 season. In the 1939-1940 season, Mayes
became Principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and
remained Principal in Philadelphia until the end of the
1947-1948 season. Serge Koussevitzky selected Samuel
Mayes as Principal cello of the Boston Symphony beginning with
the 1948-1949 season, where Mayes remained for 18 seasons.
While in Boston, he married Winifred Schaefer, first woman in
a BSO string section. In 1964, Eugene Ormandy convinced
Samuel and Winifred Mayes to join the Philadelphia Orchestra
as Principal and co-Principal cellists. Samuel Mayes
remained with the Philadelphia Orchestra until declining health
convinced him to retire at the end of the 1972-1973
season. While in Philadelphia, in 1964, Samuel Mayes
gave the American premiere of the Kabalevsky Second Cello
Concerto, with Dmitry Kabalevsky (1904-1987) conducting.
After Samuel retired, Winifred Mayes remained with the Philadelphia
Orchestra four more seasons, departing at the end of 1976-1977.
Samuel Mayes, after Philadelphia, briefly taught at the Eastman
School of Music. He apparently thought that his health had
improved sufficiently for him to take up the position of Principal
cello of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta 1974-1975.
However, this proved not to be sustainable, and Mayes joined the
music faculty of the University of Michigan. Samuel Mayes
retired in 1984, but occasionally performed with the Aspen
Festival Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony. Before the
Eastman School and the University of Michigan, Samuel Mayes
taught at a series of schools, including the New England
Conservatory, Boston University and Temple University (in
Philadelphia). Unfortunately, Samuel Mayes's heath continued
to deteriorate, and following open heart surgery and later surgery
for colon cancer 135, he died in Mesa, Arizona on
August 24, 1990, age 73.
Jules Eskin was born in Philadelphia in October, 1931. Jules Eskin’s
father was an amateur cellist who gave Jules his first lessons. In
1948, at age 16, Jules Eskin joined the Dallas Symphony cello
section under Antal Dorati. While in Dallas, Eskin studied with
Janos Starker (1924- ) who was then Principal cello for Dallas in
the 1948-1949 season. In the summers of 1947 and 1948, Eskin studied
at the Tanglewood Music Center. Jules Eskin was then accepted into
the Curtis Institute in his home town Philadelphia, where he studied
with Gregor Piatigorsky and Leonard Rose. In the early 1950s,
Eskin took master classes with Pablo Casals. In 1954, Jules Eskin
won first prize for cello in the Walter Naumburg International Competition
(which Joseph Silverstein also won for violin in 1960). This led to
his 1954 New York Town Hall debut and a 1954-1955 concert tour in Europe.
Since then Jules Eskin has always been Principal cello in the orchestra sections
which he has led. Jules Eskin was Principal cello of the Cleveland Orchestra
1961-1964 under George Szell. Eskin then joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra
as Principal cello in the 1964-1965 season, following the departure of Samuel and
Winifred Mayes to the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jules Eskin was one of
the founding members of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players in 1964.
He taught cello at the Boston University College of Fine Arts and in
the summers at the Tanglewood Music Center. Jules Eskin is married to
the Boston Symphony first violin
, a graduate of the St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) Conservatory.
In performance, it continues to be exciting to see Jules Eskin's
engagement and enjoyment of the music after more than four decades
with the Boston Symphony, under five Music Directors.
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A Boston Symphony Viola Virtuoso Joke:
Louis Snyder in his interesting
book Boston Symphony and Its World of Players116
recounts a joke about the virtuoso talents of the Boston musicians. The
orchestra was touring Europe and in Germany, the morning after a concert, a
violist was reading and translating a critic's review to his colleagues.
The newspaper headline was "A Virtuoso at Every Desk".
The musician read the article to his colleagues, but then made a puzzled
expression. After a pause, he said: "but he does not say which
one of us it is !"
(Recall that there are two musicians at every desk. But they say a
joke is not good if you need to explain it !)
First Violas Boston Symphony Orchestra
1881-1884 Henry Heindl
Henry Heindl was born in Bavaria, Germany in July, 1843.
Heindel and his wife emigrated to the US in 1868 at age 25, along with
his older brothers Alexander Heindl (1835-after 1897) and Edward Martin
Heindl (1837-1896). Henry Heindl became Principal viola of the
Boston Symphony in its first season. Henry Heindl was Principal viola
of the Boston Symphony for three seasons 1881-1884. Louis Svecenski
was appointed Principal viola by Wilhelm Gericke in the 1885-1886 season,
at which time Henry Heindl moved to the second chair. Henry Heindl
remained in the viola section 25 more seasons until the end of 1910-1911,
when he retired at age 67. Henry Heindl’s six children, Alexander Jr.,
Henry Jr., Max, Elsa, Hans, and Herbert were all musicians.
Alexander Heindl, Jr.
(1872-about 1918) joined the cello section of the Boston Symphony
for 7 seasons 1900-1907. He also made what was likely the first recordings
by a Boston Symphony musician for Victor Talking Machine Company 1900-1904.
Louis Svecenski in 1908 as part of the Kneisel Quartet
Louis Svecenski was born in Osijek, Croatia November 6, 1862.
Svecenski studied violin at the Vienna Conservatory under two famous
teachers: Josef Hellmesberger (1828-1893) and Jakob Grün (1837-1916),
who had also taught Franz Kneisel. In 1885, Gericke engaged both
Svecenski and Kneisel for the Boston Symphony as first viola and
first violin, respectively. This was during the period of
Gericke's extensive orchestra building, adding many new players,
particularly from Germany. Svecenski and Kneisel also formed
the Kneisel Quartet. From its inception in 1885 until its
disbanding in 1917, for more than 20 years, Svecenski was viola
in the Kneisel Quartet, the only other permanent player besides
See the photograph of Louis Svecenski
with the Quartet in about
1906. Louis Svecenski also taught at the New York Institute
of Musical Arts (later renamed Juilliard). Then, in 1924,
Louis Svecenski was one of the founding professors of the Curtis
Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Svecenski is recalled
today principally for his teaching and for his long contribution to
the Kneisel String Quartet. Louis Svecenski died on June 18,
1926 in New York City after a lingering illness and three
Max Zach was born August 31, 1864 in a city then called by the
Austrians Lemberg during the first partition of Poland (called
Lvov by the Poles). Today, following the movement of the
Polish boarders by Russia, the city is called Lviv, and is part
of the Ukraine. Zach came to the U.S. in 1886 to join Wilhelm
Gericke at the Boston Symphony. Zach was Principal viola of
the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1886-1907. During his time in
Boston, Max Zach also conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra 1896-1902 and
1906-1907. During these Boston years, Zach played in with
The Adamowski Quartet, with Timothée Adamowski (1858-1943), violin, A
Moldauer, second violin, Max Zach, viola, and Joseph Adamowski
(1862-1930), cello. Timothée Adamowski also conducted the
Boston Pops Orchestra before Zach in 1891-1894 and between Zach's
first and second conducting period with the Pops,
1903-07. Max Zach left the Boston Symphony in 1907 to conduct
the newly renamed St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
During 1907-1921, Max Zach was the third conductor of the St. Louis
Symphony. Zach is said to have not only expanded the St. Louis
Symphony season, but gradually increased the quality of musicians
and the content of programs. Max Zach died in St. Louis
February 3, 1921, age only 56 from an infection subsequent to a
tooth extraction, at a time when antibiotics did not yet exist.
Émile Férir was born July 18, 1873 in Brussels, Belgium. He gained entry to the
Conservatoire Royal de Musique - Brussels, winning his Premier prix in
1891 180. He played viola in the Lamoureux Orchestra of Paris
in 1892. The next season, Émile Férir went to Glasgow, where he was Principal
viola of the Scottish Symphony. From 1897-1903, he was Principal viola at Henry Wood's
Queen Hall Orchestra in London 10. While in Britain,
he was also active in the Kruse String Quartet: Johann Kruse first,
Charles Schilsky second, Emil Férir viola 145. Émile Férir
emigrated to the U.S. at the end of his 1902-1903 season in London in September,
1903. Presumably, he had already been contracted by Wilhelm Gericke
to become Principal viola of the Boston Symphony. While in
Boston, Férir became a US citizen in 1917. Émile Férir was
Principal violist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for fifteen seasons,
from 1903-1918. The next season, Leopold Stokowski, who had gone
through two Principal violas in three seasons appointed
Émile Férir Principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra
. Unfortunately for Férir, he also lasted only
one season, 1918-1919, with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Férir
then joined the New York Symphony during the early 1920s. At this
time he also joined the Berkshire String Quartet, funded by Elizabeth
Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953), consisting (at that time at least)
of Hugo Kortschak first,
second, Emile Férir viola, and
Emmeran Stoeber cello. Émile Férir
in the viola position of the Berkshire Quartet.
In the early to mid 1920s, Émile Férir was Principal viola for the
Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he joined
Sylvain Noack. In Los Angeles, he was a
member of the Philharmonic String Quartet:
Sylvain Noack first,
Henry Svedrofsky second,
Emil Férir viola,
Walter Ferner cello. Emile Férir died in Orange County,
California on April 26, 1949.
Georges Fourel was born in Grenoble, France in June 19, 1892 of a
French father and Italian mother. Fourel studied first at the
Municipal Conservatoire of Douai (near Lille in the north of France).
This prepared Georges Fourel to gain admission to the Paris
Conservatoire. Georges Fourel won the Premier prix in viola at
the Conservatoire in the 1913 Concour. Upon graduation, Fourel
played viola in l'Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux
about 1913-1914. Fourel then joined the orchestra of
l'Opéra de Paris in about 1915. It may have
been that Fourel would play both Concerts Lamoureux and the Opera, since
in that era, orchestral concerts all occurred at the same time on Saturday
afternoons, and musicians were not contracted exclusively.
During World War 1, Georges Fourel served in the French army, was
wounded at Verdun, where he won the Croix de Guerre for valor.
In 1918-1920, Georges Fourel played in l'Orchestre des Concerts-Touche
and the Concerts de Monte-Carlo. These were small concerts, with
none of the Paris halls of the era holding more than about 1500 listeners.
As can be seen from the photo of Concerts-Touche, below, less than 1000
connaiseurs could attend.
Concerts-Touche hall in about 1920
Georges Fourel emigrated to the US in 1920. He entered the
Boston Symphony subsequent to the 1920 musician's strike at the
invitation of Pierre Monteux as a second violin in the 1920-1921
season. In the 1921-1922 season, Fourel advanced to
Principal viola, a path followed by other violinists, such as
, 40 years later. Georges Fourel also played viola in the
Boston String Quartet, in which Alwin Schroeder was cello. In
the 1932-1933 season, Jean Lefranc replaced Georges Fourel in the
first chair viola position. Georges Fourel remained with the
Boston Symphony viola section until the end of 1953-1954 season,
thirty-three years of service. Georges Fourel became
a U.S. citizen in 1932 at the same time as his friend, the cellist
, and his successor
. George Fourel
taught at Middlebury College in Vermont in the 1930s. Also, with
the organization of the the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Georges
Fourel was particularly active with summer instruction of strings.
For example, at Tanglewood, Sarah Caldwell (1924-2006)
the conductor studied viola with Georges Fourel in 1946. After
retiring from the Boston Symphony, Georges Fourel seems to have returned
to France. Georges Fourel died July 25, 1955.
Jean Lefranc, left, with Abdon Laus, Principal bassoon, and
Jean Bedetti, Principal cello in mid-1930s
Jean Lefranc was born in St. Quentin Aisne, France, 60 km northwest
of Paris on March 28, 1884. Jean Lefranc entered the Paris
Conservatoire where he won Premier prix in the 1907 Concour.
After graduation from the Conservatoire, Jean Lefranc was appointed
Principal viola of l'Orchestra of the Théâtre de
l'Opéra Comique in Paris (where Pierre Monteux had also been
Principal viola a decade previously. For five seasons, Jean
Lefranc become Principal viola in l'Orchestre
Colonne in Paris 1920-1924. The next year, Serge
Koussevitzky who likely knew Jean Lefranc's playing from Concerts
Koussevitzky in Paris, invited Lefranc to Boston. So, in
Serge Koussevitzky's second season as Music Director, Jean Lefranc
joined the viola section of the Boston Symphony in the 1925-1926
season. Jean Lefranc later succeeding Georges Fourel as Principal
viola in 1932, remaining in the first chair in Boston for fourteen
seasons. Jean Lefranc became a U.S. citizen in 1932 at the
same time as Georges Fourel, Lefranc's friend and his predecessor
as Principal viola of the Boston Symphony. Jean Lefranc retired
from the Boston Orchestra at age 62, following the conclusion of World War
2 at the end of the 1946-1947 season.
Joseph de Pasquale was born in Philadelphia in December, 1919.
His father, Oreste de Pasquale was also a violinist, who gave Joseph
his first lessons. Accepted at the Curtis Institute as a
violinist, Joseph de Pasquale switched to viola at the suggestion
of Max Aronoff of the Curtis String Quartet (1906-1981) and
Louis Bailly (1882-1974). At Curtis, de Pasquale studied
with Aronoff and Bailly, and later with William Primrose
(1904-1982). Joseph de Pasquale graduated from Curtis in the
Class of 1942. During World War 2, de Pasquale played in the US
Marine Band and Orchestra in Washington DC, and took the train
to Philadelphia every two weeks to study with William Primrose.
Following the retirement of Jean Lefranc from the Boston Symphony
at the end of the 1946-1947 season, Serge Koussevitzky appointed
Joseph de Pasquale Principal viola of the Boston Symphony
beginning in the 1947-1948 season. Jean Cauhapé remained in the
second chair of the viola section. Joseph de Pasquale
was married to the niece of Serge Koussevitzky's wife, Natalya Ushkov
Koussevitzky. In Boston, de Pasquale played the very large
Gasparo de Salo viola. Eugene Ormandy favored the richer sound
of a large viola and insisted his viola section use these. Joseph
de Pasquale's Gasparo de Salo viola was large even by these standards.
Ormandy had invited Joseph de Pasquale to join the Philadelphia Orchestra
on several occasions, and after seventeen seasons in Boston, de Pasquale
became Philadelphia Orchestra Principal viola in the 1964-1965
season. Joseph Pasquale held the first
viola position in Philadelphia until he retired at the end of the
1995-1996 season. Harry Ellis Dickson, BSO violinist, and sometime
conductor of the Boston Pops said that de Pasquale was know for two
things, besides his music. One was that he was an excellent
cook and the other was his means of expression. "...he was
known as 'Mister Malaprop'...Just before the birth of his first
child...I said 'dont do what I did...we waited so long to go the the
hospital that the baby was almost born on the way'. 'Oh', he
said, if the baby comes, all you goda to do is cut the biblical
cord!'" 60 de Pasquale taught at the Curtis
Institute for more than 20 years 100, succeeding his
teacher and mentor William Primrose. The list of his
successful students in US symphony orchestras is long, his legacy
to orchestra music making.
Burton Fine was born in Philadelphia August 7, 1930. In Philadelphia,
Burton Fine studied at both the Curtis Institute and at the University of
Pennsylvania. Burton Fine studied violin with Ivan Galamian (1903-1981)
for 5 years at the Curtis. Burton Fine also studied chemistry
at the University of Pennsylvania and received a Ph.D. in chemistry
from Illinois Tech. Fine worked for 8 years as a research chemist.
Burton Fine auditioned for the Boston Symphony, and joined the second violin
under Erich Leinsdorf in the 1963-1964 season. The next season, upon the
departure of Joseph de Pasquale, Burton Fine was advanced to Principal Viola.
In 1964, Boston Symphony Principal musicians organized the
Boston Symphony Chamber Players, of which Burton Fine was a founding
member. Burton Fine taught a number of famous students at the
New England Conservatory, including Roberto Diaz, now Principal viola
of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Burton Fine’s wife Susan Miron is
a harp soloist and critic 98. Harry Ellis Dickinson
observed that Burton Fine was one of the "absent minded musicians".
Dickinson wrote about Fine: "...[he] is so preoccupied
that he hardly ever greets anyone. He recently came to me before a
rehearsal and asked if I had seen him come in. When I answered
in the affirmative, he asked 'Was I carrying my viola case?'
'I think so' I said. 'Well, then' he said 'it must be here
somewhere' 61 In the 1996-1997 season, Burton Fine
gave up the Principal viola chair to Steven Ansell. Burton Fine
retired from the Boston Symphony in December, 2004.
You can also see him with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players
in the 1964 photo, above.
Steven Ansell was born in Seattle, Washington on February 5, 1954.
At the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Steven Ansell studied viola with
Michael Tree and Karen Tuttle. He graduated from the Curtis Institute
in 1975 94. In 1975, Steven Ansell went to the University
of Houston to teach, where he remained two years. In the 1977-1978
season, Steven Ansell was appointed Assistant Principal viola of the
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under André Previn. In 1979, Steven
Ansell founded the Muir String Quartet featuring fellow Curtis Institute
Lucy Chapman Stoltzman
first (later Peter Zazofsky first), Bayla Keyes second (later
viola and Michael Reynolds cello), who all met at the
Curtis Institute 97 and with whom Ansell is still
active 95. The Muir String Quartet, after more than thirty
seasons of performing still is actively touring, including on the East coast
while the BSO season is active, demonstrating Steven Ansell's love of
chamber music. Steven Ansell also teaches music at
Boston University 96.
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Famous old story involving the oboes of the Boston Symphony:
Koussevitzky had the practice of evaluating new scores by having the
orchestra perform them, rather than by reading the score of the music
(which is said not to have been one of his strengths). During
one such performance of new scores, the rendition of a work was
particularly rough. Between two such works, the second oboe,
turned to the Principal oboe,
and asked "what are we playing next ?"
When Gillet indicated the next work, deVergie exclaimed "mon Dieu,
that's what I just played !"
1881-1882 Dr. Antonio L. De Ribas
Likely Paul Clemens Fischer, left and Antonio De Ribas, right in this 1882
composite photo-collage of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Imagine a Boston Symphony musician born ten years before Beethoven
composed his Symphony no 9. In fact, that was the case with
Dr. Antonio L. De Ribas. De Ribas was born in Madrid, Spain on
January 12, 1814 when Beethoven and Schubert were composing some of
their finest works. After his musical education in Spain,
Antonio De Ribas made his London debut as an oboe soloist in 1837.
De Ribas first appeared in New York in 1839 139.
By 1857, Dr. De Ribas was teaching music in Boston. De Ribas was
Principal oboe during the first season of the Boston Symphony. In
the second oboe chair that first season was Paul Clemens Fischer
(born Ronneburg, near Leipzig, Germany February 9, 1858).
Both Fischer and De Ribas left the Boston Symphony after that
first season.  In the 1890s, Dr. De Ribas was teaching at the New
England Conservatory. He also formed a business that provided
theatrical scenery in the first decade of the 1900s. Philip Hale
wrote that Antonio De Ribas was the first in the US to play the English
horn in concerts as a solo instrument 139. It is
hard to think how one could be sure of such a claim, but given the
lack of even oboes and bassoons in US orchestras before the Civil War
playing for example Haydn, it may well be true. Antonio De Ribas
died in Boston January 28, 1907, age 93.
Hugo Hemmann was born in Saxe-Weimar, in the present state of Thuringia
in central Germany in March, 1859. Hugo Hemmann was brother of
the violinist Friedhold Hemmann (August 15, 1845-after 1910) and the
cellist Carl Hemmann (1851-before 1910). They emigrated together
to the U.S. in 1866. Both Friedhold Hemmann and Carl Hemmann
played with the New York Philharmonic Society in 1877-1879.
Hugo Hemmann was the Principal oboe of the Boston Symphony during
its second season 1882-1883. Carl Hemmann by the 1891-1892
season was playing cello, probably Principal, in the New York Symphony under
Walter Damrosch. By 1889, Hugo Hemmann, Carl Hemmann and Friedhold
Hemmann all were musicians in New York City. Carl Hemmann died
after 1922. Friedhold Hemmann died after 1916.
Auguste Sautet was born in France in March, 1849. In about 1865, Auguste
Sautet began studies at the Paris Conservatoire. After the Conservatoire,
Sautet played oboe with the Colonne Orchestra and with the Paris Opera Orchestra.
Auguste Sautet also played from 1879-1881 with the legendary flutist Paul
Taffanel (1844-1904) in Taffanel's Paris wind society group (Société
de musique de chambre pour instruments à vent) 18.
In 1887, Wilhelm Gericke invited Auguste Sautet to come to Boston as Principal
oboe with the Boston Symphony. At that time, French wind players were
widely admired for precision and delicacy. Auguste Sautet was Principal
oboe of the Boston Symphony from 1887-1896. In the 1897-1898 season,
Emil Paur selected another Paris Conservatoire graduate, Albert Weiss to come
to Boston as Principal oboe. Auguste
Sautet then moved to the second oboe chair, with Frederick C. Mueller remaining
as English horn. Auguste Sautet remained as oboe with the Boston Symphony
until the end of the 1911-1912 season.
Albert Weiss was born in Paris March 7, 1864. Weiss entered
the Paris Conservatoire, was a student of the great teacher, Georges
Gillet (1854-1920), head of the oboe program at the Paris Conservatoire
from 1882-1919, and uncle of future BSO oboe Fernand Gillet. Weiss
won the oboe Premier prix in the 1882 Conservatoire Concour.
Georges Gillet was in fact the teacher of all the Boston Symphony
Principal oboes from 1896-1946. Some of Gillet's famous pupils
Principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra, two other Principal
oboes of the Boston Symphony, including Gillet's nephew
(Chicago), and Alexandre Duvoir (Minneapolis). Albert Weiss was
Second oboe of the Boston Symphony during the two seasons,
1896-1898. However, his tenure was cut short by a tragic event.
At the end of Weiss's second season, on July 4, 1898
returning to Boston after summer holiday in France, Principal flute
, his wife and child along with
, Principal clarinet and
Principal oboe, all perished in the shipwreck
of the French steamship La Bourgogne killing 600 persons
218. As well as being a major tragedy,
this loss of three of the Boston Symphony section heads
precipitated a crisis for the Boston Symphony,
and its conductor Wilhelm Gericke just returning to the
Boston Symphony as Music Director after nine
years. With the 1898-1899 season being only three months away, the
orchestra telegraphed to the Paris Conservatorie, requesting the best
available oboe. As a result, in September, 1898 at the age of 30,
Georges Longy arrived in Boston. Longy was to remain Principal
oboe of the Boston Symphony for twenty-seven seasons.
Georges Longy, born in Abbeville (near Caen), France on August 29,
1868. Longy was a student of the great teacher, Georges Gillet
(1854-1920), head of the oboe program at the Paris Conservatoire
from 1882-1919. Georges Longy where he won the Premier prix in
the 1886 Concour 12.
In the 1888-1889 season, Longy became Principal oboe of the Colonne Orchestra of
Paris. Following the unexpected death of Albert Weiss in the summer 1898,
Wilhelm Gericke sent for Georges Longy to join the Boston Symphony
as Principal oboe. Longy was also active in
chamber music. For 14 years, 1899-1913, with the funding of
Elise Hall, Longy founded the Boston Orchestral Club, a small
semi-professional symphony which played works perhaps too avant-guard
for the Boston Symphony 11. In 1899, he formed the
Georges Longy Club, a wind chamber music
group, which played music from the Baroque to modern eras. The Longy Club
was active for 21 seasons, 1899-192012. The Georges Longy Club
was modeled after the Paris wind group organized by the great flutist Paul
Taffanel (1844-1908): Société de musique de
chambre pour instruments à vent. Among the musicians playing in
the Taffanel group were several of Longy friends and colleagues:
oboist Auguste Sautet
. The first concert of the
Georges Longy Club took place on
December 18, 1899, in Association Hall, Boston. The initial
listed members were: Georges Longy, oboe,
, bassoon and Heinrick Gebbard, piano.
Listed as "Assisting Players" were
, who was then Assistant Principal flute of the BSO,
, bassoon (brother of Hugo Litke) and
Frank (or Franz) Hain
, horn 24. Later Georges
Longy Club players were
, oboe, and
, horn. Georges Longy seems to have gone back to
France every summer from at least
1904-1924. In 1915, to further musical education, Longy,
with Charles Loefler (1861-1935) created the Longy School of Music
in Boston, which still exists. At the end of the 1924-1925
season Georges Longy left the Boston Symphony, seeming as a result
of disagreements with the new Boston Symphony conductor, Serge
Koussevitzky. Georges Longy returned to France, and settled
near his birthplace in Abbeville. It seems that on his return
to France, Longy no longer played the oboe in public. Georges
Longy died at Abbeville while out for a walk in March, 1930.
A Georges Longy story: BSO clarinet
(1911-1997) has told
an excellent Georges Longy story. A young oboe player came to
Longy, asking for the privilege to study with him. Longy replied
"Oh non! I nevaire give lessons, nevaire!". The student,
despairing, said "but I came all the way to Boston to have lessons
with you!" Longy replied, "but zhat is too bad, because
I NEVaire give lessons." Student: "Well, I do not really
want lessons, what I REALLY want is to know the secret of your vibrato."
Longy: "Oh-ho, so zat is eet - ze Secret! ... So, now take out
your oboe...Good...Now, play for me one long tone." Pupil plays
a few warm-up tones and then plays a long tone. "Now play it
espressivo!" Student plays. Longy shakes his head,
then says, "now play it again" and as the pupil plays, Longy
reaches forward and gently moves the bell of the oboe from side to
side. Longy: "Do you hear Zhat?" Student:
'Yes ! YES !?" Longy asks him to do it again, and
process is repeated. Longy states "Vairy good, vairy
good, and that will be twenty-five dollaire, please."
Fernand Gillet was born in Paris, France October 15, 1882.
He studied at the Paris Conservatoire with his uncle, Georges
Gillet (1854-1920), head of the oboe program for nearly 40 years
at the Conservatoire. At the Conservatoire, he won second prize
in 1896 and Premier prix in the Concour of 1897. From 1901
to about 1924, Fernand Gillet was Principal oboe of
the Lamoureux Orchestra of Paris. During that same period, starting
in 1902, Fernand Gillet was second oboe to his uncle Georges Gillet at the
l'Opéra de Paris 21. During World War 1, Gillet was a
fighter pilot and was awarded the Croix de Guerre21.
In 1925, Koussevitzky substantially changed the oboe section of the Boston
Symphony. Georges Longy was replaced as Principal oboe by Fernand Gillet,
and Clement Lenom, second oboe 1901-1925 was replaced by Jean Devergie (who was
to remain as Assistant Principal oboe for thirty-nine seasons, 1925-1964).
Fernand Gillet married his student and second wife, Marie Louise, 16 years younger
than he in 1931. He became a U.S. citizen in 1933. Interestingly, Gillet
never made his own reeds, but like Phillip Kirchner of the Cleveland Orchestra,
Bruno Labate Principal oboe with the New York Philharmonic, and Juilliard bassoon
teacher Simon Kovar, always purchased them. Gillet is said by a number of his
students (he taught mainly at the New England Conservatory in Boston) to
have been a gifted teacher. For example, the flutist Joe
Armstrong wrote "...Not many people realize today that the legendary
Fernand Gillet frequently taught advanced players from the entire
woodwind family who found that his unique way of developing superior
technique and expressive control had something crucial to offer them
beyond what they received from the expert teachers of their own
instruments..." 22. Gillet continued to teach
into his nineties. Gillet was long lived, and died in suburban Boston
in March 8, 1980, aged 98.
John A. "Jack" Holmes was born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio July 20,
1918. Jack Holmes's father, Percy Holmes, was a Professor at
Ohio Wesleyan University (100 km southwest of Cleveland), and
Jack grew up in that atmosphere.
In about 1933, Holmes began study with Bert Gassman who was English horn
solo with the Cleveland Orchestra. In the Autumn of 1936, Holmes
went to the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Robert
Bloom for one year and then with for three years with Robert Sprenkle
(1914-1988). Sprenkle was Principal oboe of the Eastman-Rochester
Philharmonic for 48 years. Robert Bloom was one of the great oboists
of his generation. Bloom was Principal oboe with the Rochester
Philharmonic under Jose Iturbi. Previously from 1930-1936, Bloom
had been English horn under Leopold Stokowski in Philadelphia. Stokowski
had been searching for a leading English horn player, changing English horn in
for each of the previous five Philadelphia seasons until he found Robert
Bloom. Then, in 1938, Robert Bloom for the initial season
of the NBC Symphony was Principal oboe of Arturo Toscanini's orchestra.
After his study with Bloom and Sprenkle, in 1940 Jack Holmes went to the
Oklahoma Symphony as Principal oboe. In the summers of 1940 and 1941,
Holmes studied at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (later renamed the
Tanglewood Music Center) with Fernand Gillet,
then Boston Principal oboe. In the following five seasons 1942-1947, John
'Jack' Holmes went through a series of American orchestras of increasing
prestige. These were: the Kansas City Symphony, the Buffalo
Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra summer concerts, the National Symphony
of Washington and finally, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In 1947, Serge
Koussevitzky, who had noted Holmes at Tanglewood selected him as Principal oboe
to succeed his teacher, Fernand Gillet. John Holmes was Principal
in Boston for three seasons, oboe 1947-1950. Charles Munch then
selected Ralph Gomberg as Principal oboe, and Jack Holmes moved to the
second chair next to Ralph Gomberg for a further twenty-seven seasons,
from 1950-1977, certainly a distinguished first oboe stand. John
Holmes died in suburban Boston on May 21, 1998.
Ralph Gomberg was born in Malden, Massachusetts June 18, 1921, the
youngest in a musical family with 3 brothers (including famous oboe
Harold Gomberg) and 2 sisters being musicians. Ralph and Harold Gomberg
both studied oboe with the legendary
at the Curtis Institute. Ralph Gomberg at age 14 was Marcel Tabuteau's
youngest-ever oboe student. In fact 5 of the 7 Gomberg children studied
at the Curtis Institute. Gomberg's parents, Nathan Gomberg and Mary Levin
Gomberg both encouraged their children in music. A third brother, Leo was
Principal trumpet of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra (where
Ralph met his wife Sydelle, a dancer at the Radio City Hall).
Brother Leo Gomberg also played with the City Center Orchestra under
Leonard Bernstein, just as Ralph was to do. Sister Ciel was a violinist
for the NBC staff orchestra, and sister Edyth was a cellist, later marrying George
Zazofsky, Boston Symphony violinist 1942-1970 and Assistant Concertmaster.
After Curtis, in 1940, Leopold Stokowski hired Ralph Gomberg, age 18 as first
oboist for his All-American Youth Orchestra.
In 1942, Ralph Gomberg joined the New York City Center Orchestra as Principal
oboe under Leonard Bernstein. Then, Ralph Gomberg was Principal
oboe with the Baltimore Symphony. He later joined the Mutual
Broadcasting Symphony as first oboe, a desirable position which gave him
year-around employment (important in that era of partial orchestral
seasons.) Ralph Gomberg joined the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch
in the 1950-1951 season, succeeding Jack Holmes, who moved to the second
oboe chair. Ralph Gomberg served as Principal oboe of the Boston
Symphony for 38 seasons until the end of 1986-1987 as Principal oboe.
Ralph Gomberg was an active teacher at the Peabody Institute, Baltimore,
the New England Conservatory, and at Boston University. Ralph
Gomberg died in December 9, 2006 in Wayland, Massachusetts.
Alfred Genovese was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 25, 1931. His
father was also a musician. At age 16, Genovese began study with John Minsker
who had previously been English horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Admitted
to the Curtis Institute, Alfred Genovese was one of the last oboe students of Marcel
Tabuteau. Upon graduation from Curtis in the Class of 1953,
Genovese became an oboe with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for three seasons
1953-1956. Alfred Genovese then went to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra where
he was Principal oboe under Vladimir Golschmann and Edouard van Remoortel 1956-1959.
In the 1959-1960 season, Genovese went to the Cleveland Orchestra as Principal
oboe briefly for one season under George Szell. This was the single season in which
Marc Lifschey was away from Cleveland during his long Cleveland tenure 1950-1959 and
1960-1965. In this 1959-1960 season, Lifschey was Principal oboe of the Metropolitan
Opera. Upon his return to Cleveland, Alfred Genovese replaced him as Principal
oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1960-1961 season. Alfred Genovese
remained at the Metropolitan Opera for 17 seasons 1960-1977. In the 1977-1978
season, with the departure of Jack Holmes from Boston, Alfred Genovese left the Metropolitan
Opera to take the third oboe chair (Associate Principal oboe) of the Boston Symphony
Orchestra. Wayne Rapier moved up to the second chair (Assistant Principal) of
the Boston Symphony oboes. Upon the retirement of Ralph Gomberg
at the end of the 1986-1987 season, Alfred Genovese took the first chair oboe position.
In the Boston Symphony programs for the 1987-1990 seasons, Alfred Genovese was listed as
"Acting Principal oboe" He was then confirmed in the first chair position and is
now deservedly listed as Principal oboe 1987-1998. Alfred Genovese was a regular at
the Marlboro Music Festival in the summers from at least 1955 into the 1980s. He was
also a New York freelance session musician in the early 1970s at the time he was with the
Metropolitan Opera. He he has taught oboe at the New England Conservatory of Music,
and the Manhattan School of Music. Alfred Genovese retired from the Boston Symphony
at the end of the 1997-1998 season.
John Ferrillo was born in Massachusetts in 1955. He was
raised in Bedford, Massachusetts in a musical family. Ferrillo's
mother was a music teacher with a Masters degree in
music education. As a youth, Ferrillo played oboe in the
Greater Boston Youth Symphony. John Ferrillo then followed
the footsteps of two great Boston Symphony oboe predecessors,
and Genovese's predecessor,
, entering the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Ferrillo studied for 5 years at the Curtis with
John de Lancie
of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he received his Artist’s
Diploma and Artist’s Certificate in the Class of 1977.
Ralph Gomberg, Alfred Genovese and John de Lancie were all
pupils of the legendary oboist and teacher
at the Curtis Institute. Ferrillo studied at the Blossom Music
Festival with John Mack. He also participated at the Marlboro Music
Festival. Upon graduation from Curtis in 1977, John Ferrillo
freelanced for a year. In 1977, he also played Principal oboe
with the suburban Washington D.C. Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. For
six years during the late 1970s and early 1980s, John Ferrillo taught
at the University of West Virginia. He was constantly working
towards a major symphony orchestra position during these years.
In interviews, John Ferrillo has pointed out the challenges for a
beginning musician to build a career. He said that he
"blew off" nine years and 21 auditions, prior to landing
his first position as assistant Principal oboe of the San Francisco
Symphony 54. Ferrillo in May, 1985 won the competition
to become second oboe of the San Francisco Symphony to begin in the
1985-1986 season, under Herbert Blomstedt. Then, only months
later, in September, 1985, Ferrillo won the Principal oboe audition
for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Ferrillo joined the MET
for the 1986-1987 season, and remained as Principal Oboe for fifteen
seasons, 1986 to 2001. At the same time as his tenure at the
Metropolitan Opera, Ferrillo taught oboe at the Juilliard School.
Then, in 2001, Ferrillo succeeded Alfred Genovese, Principal oboe
of the Boston Symphony who had retired at the end of the 1997-1998
season. Ferrillo also began to teach at Boston University
and the New England Conservatory. John Ferrillo is admired
for his singing tone and phrasing, which some speculate may have
been reinforced during his years at the Metropolitan Opera.
John Ferrillo's colleagues observe that his way of shaping and
phrasing a line of music, and his intensity bring alive the teaching
of Ferrillo's great mentor John de Lancie. As such, he continues
a tradition of the Boston Symphony winds, and in particular the
oboe section which is not surpassed by another orchestra.
1914 - Wind section BSO
standing: August Battles, flute, Albert Chevrot, flute, Max Fuhrmann, bassoon,
Edmond Mueller, bassoon, Paul Mimart, clarinet, Arthur Brooke,
flute, Augusto Vannini, clarinet, Pierre Fossé, oboe, Clement Lenom,
seated: André Maquarre, Principal flute, Joseph Mosbach, Principal bassoon, Peter
Sadony, bassoon, Georges Longy, Principal Oboe, F. C.
Mueller, oboe, Karl Stumpf, bass clarinet, Georges Grisez, Principal
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Paul Eltz, left with Ernst Regestein, right, first bassoons of the Boston Symphony
in this 1881 composite photo-collage
Paul Richard Eltz Sr. was born in Dresden, Germany on December 18, 1817. He emigrated
to the U.S. in 1848 with his wife Amelia and son Paul Jr., first to New York City and
then to Boston. From 1866, and during the 1870s, Paul Eltz was a music
teacher and musician in Boston. In 1875, Paul Eltz is listed as teaching
at the New England Conservatory. Paul Eltz was one of the early generation
of Boston professional orchestra musicians playing in the Handel and Haydn Society
Orchestra, beginning in the 1860s 136. In 1881, Paul Eltz was the first
Principal bassoon of the Boston Symphony under George Henschel in its initial season.
Paul Richard Eltz, Jr.
(1845-after 1920), born in Germany just before the
family came to the U.S., was in the Boston Symphony viola
section during the first 1881-1882 season. Paul Eltz
Jr. was also a music teacher in Boston, and remained in the O
rchestra only for the first season. Paul Eltz Sr. as
Principal bassoon for two seasons 1881-1883. remained
in the bassoon section of the Boston Symphony for additional two seasons,
1881-1883. Paul Eltz Sr. seems to have died in Boston before 1900.
1881-1882 Ernst Regestein Assistant Principal bassoon
Ernst Regestein was born in Germany in April, 10 1846. He emigrated
to the U.S. in 1865, and was an active musician in Boston, both teaching
and in orchestras and chamber groups. In the Boston Symphony
Orchestra first season, 1881-1882, Regestein was what we would title
today the Assistant Principal bassoon of the Boston Symphony.
Regestein returned to the Boston Symphony in 1904 and
remained until the end of the 1911-1912 season as third bassoon, first
under Principal bassoon Albert Debuchy 1904-1905, and then under Peter
Sadony, beginning 1905-1906. Ernst Regestein left the Boston
Symphony at the end of the 1911-1912 season after a total of nine
seasons. See the interesting photograph of Ernst Regestein with
his first stand Assistant bassoon Paul Eltz, from the first season
BSO photograph (actually a composite photo-collage done in 1882,
above. Ernst Regestein died in Boston in February, 1936, just
short of his ninetieth birthday.
Fedor Bernhardi was born in Ronneburg, Hesse, Germany (about 40 km east of
Frankfurt) in May 29, 1852. In Georg Henschel's last season 1883-1884, Fedor
Bernhardi joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as Principal bassoon, with Christian
Dietsch as his stand partner, and Louis Post, contrabassoon. Fedor Bernhardi
was Principal bassoon of the Boston Symphony for three seasons, continuing under Wilhelm
Gericke, departing at the end of the 1885-1886 season. Fedor Bernhardi had married
Frances Shaw in New York City in 1886. Fedor Bernhardi thereafter lived in
Queens, New York with his wife and three sons. In New York, Fedor Bernhardi was
Principal bassoon of the New York Philharmonic beginning in the 1893-1894 season.
Frederick Hermann Guenzel, or Günzel, was born in Bavaria,
Germany March 20, 1849. Frederick Hermann Guenzel was
Principal bassoon of the Boston Symphony for five seasons,
1886-1891, and continued for fifteen more seasons as second
bassoon. He was also active in chamber music concerts,
including the Molé Chamber Music Concert Club. Guenzel
taught at the New England Conservatory. His music teaching
in Boston continued at least until 1906. He performed
under the listing of F. Hermann Guenzel, and F. H. Günzel
(in some BSO programs), and Frederick Gunzel, so tracing him
can be challenging. At the Conservatory, he was Hermann
Guenzel. Frederick Hermann Guenzel was one of the
longer-serving bassoons of the Boston Symphony, for 1886-1906,
twenty seasons, exceeded only by such famous BSO bassoons as
Ernst Panenka (45 seasons), Richard Plaster (40), Sherman Walt
(36), Raymond Allard (30), Abdon Laus (27), and Roland Small
(24 seasons). Hopefully, our current BSO bassoon greats
Richard Svoboda, Suzanne Nelson, Richard Ranti, and Gregg Henegar
may surpass these records. Rich in service,
Frederick Hermann Guenzel died in Boston, rather young,
sometime before 1910.
Adolf Guetter (or Gütter) was born in Germany in about 1866.
His was a musical family, and his brother, Julius Guetter,
was also a violin and bassoon player. Adolf Guetter
studied under Julius Weissenborn (1837-1888) at the Leipzig
Conservatory starting in about 1882 or 1883. Julius
Weissenborn had been Principal bassoon with the the Leipzig
Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1857-1887 as well as teaching at
the Leipzig Conservatory. After playing several years
in Germany, Adolf Guetter came to Boston in 1891 at the
invitation of Arthur Nikisch, who had likely known Guetter
from Nikisch's period as Principal conductor of the Stadt
Theater, Leipzig. Adolf Guetter was Principal bassoon
with the Boston Symphony under Arthur Nikisch for two seasons
1891-1893. Guetter's last season 1893-1894 was under
Nikisch's successor, Emil Paur. Upon returning to
Germany following the Boston Symphony, in 1901, Adolf
Guetter was in Berlin playing chamber music 129.
In the 1910s, Adolf Guetter was Principal bassoon at
the Royal Court Opera, Berlin ("Königliche Hofoper",
renamed "Staatsoper unter den Linden" after the war).
At the same time, Adolf Guetter taught at the
Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatory of Music in Berlin prior
to World War 1. Adolf Guetter also took part for
several years in the Beethoven Fest, held in Bonn
each autumn (and still today). In Berlin, Adolf Guetter
was teacher of his nephew,
who was Principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony
(1916-1918 and 1919-1922) and of the Philadelphia Orchestra
for fifteen seasons (1922-1937). Julius Guetter, younger
brother of Adolf Guetter, and father of Walter
Guetter was a violin maker who also settled in Philadelphia.
Hugo Litke was born in Hamburg, Germany on September 14, 1863.
Theodore Thomas traveled in Europe, particularly in Germany and Austria
each summer, recruiting musicians and collecting new music.
Thomas engaged Hugo Litke to come to the US for the initial two seasons
of Thomas's Chicago Orchestra as it was then called.
Hugo Litke was Principal bassoon in Chicago 1891-1893.
Hugo Litke's brother,
was also a bassoon player and joined Hugo Litke as a substitute
bassoon with the Chicago Symphony. In 1894, Hugo Litke
relocated to New York City. Then, in the 1894-1895 season,
Hugo Litke joined the Boston Symphony under Emil Paur as Principal
bassoon. Paul Litke soon joined his brother in Boston in
1896-1897, playing bassoon and contrabassoon. Hugo Litke
remained Principal bassoon in Boston 1894-1901. During that
period, the Boston Symphony bassoon section comprised Hugo Litke
and Paul Litke with the long-time (1886-1906) BSO Second bassoon
Frederick Hermann Guenzel
. While in Boston, Hugo Litke was
also active in the
Georges Longy Club, a wind chamber music group
organized by Georges Longy.
Hugo Litke also played chamber music with the Kneisel Quartet.
At the end of the 1900-1901 season, Hugo and Paul Litke
left the Boston Symphony, now under the direction of
Wilhelm Gericke. Seven seasons later, Hugo Litke again
returned to Boston for the 1907-1908 season, sitting in the
Second bassoon chair, next to Principal bassoon Peter Sadony.
Albert Debuchy was born in Boulogne in the Pas-de-Calais region of
the north of France in 1864. Albert Debuchy gained admission to
the Paris Conservatoire where he studied under under the famous bassoon
virtuoso Louis-Marie-Eugène Jancourt.
Louis-Marie-Eugène Jancourt (1815-1901)
Jancourt was professor at the Conservatoire from 1875-1891.
Following graduation, Albert Debuchy played bassoon in the orchestra of the
Théâtre de l’Opéra-Comique, Paris. Wilhelm
Gericke recruited Debuchy to come to the U.S. to join the Boston Symphony
in the 1901-1902 season as Principal bassoon. Albert Debuchy
remained Principal bassoon for four seasons 1901-1905. In the 1905-1906
season, Wilhelm Gericke brought in Willy Hess as the new BSO Concertmaster,
and Peter Sadony as Principal bassoon. For the next two seasons, 1905-1907,
Albert Debuchy was assistant to Peter Sadony in the second bassoon chair, with
Ernst Regestein in third, and John Helleberg as contrabassoon.
In 1907, while Karl Muck was Music Director, Albert Debuchy conducted
a concert of French romantic music with musicians primarily drawn from
the Boston Symphony. After the 1906-1907 season, Albert Debuchy seems
to have returned to France.
Peter Sadony was born in Erbach, near Wiesbaden, Germany on June 26,
1865. Sadony studied bassoon in Berlin. He held positions in
Regensberg (Switzerland), Berlin, and Riga (Latvia, at that time
part of Russia). Peter Sadony then joined the Gürzenich Orchestra of
Cologne. Peter Sadony’s contemporary
was Concertmaster of the Gürzenich Orchestra. Willy Hess came
to the Boston Symphony under Wilhelm Gericke as Concertmaster in the
1904-1905 season. Then, the next season, Willy Hess's brother
, who had been Principal horn in Cologne, and his
colleague Peter Sadony, bassoon, came to the Boston Symphony together for
the 1905-1906 season. At the Gürzenich Orchestra, Peter Sadony had
been Principal bassoon. In Boston, Peter Sadony was Principal
bassoon of the Boston Symphony for 11 seasons, through the 1915-1916
season. Then, in late September, just before the start of the
1916-1917 season, Peter Sadony had surgery for appendicitis.
Peter Sadony died unexpectedly on September 19, 1916 122,
probably of peritonitis following the procedure, at the early age of 50,
this in the age before antibiotics.
Joseph Mosbach was born May 7, 1888 in the same town as Peter
Sadony, in Erbach, near Wiesbaden, Germany. Joseph Mosbach emigrated
to Boston in October, 1910 to join the Boston Symphony Orchestra
under Max Fiedler in the 1910-1911 season. Mosbach was initially
contra-bassoon under Peter Sadony, the Principal bassoon. After six
seasons with the Boston Symphony 1910-1916 as contrabassoon, Peter Sadony
unexpectedly died.  Karl Muck in the 1916-1917 season elevated Joseph
Mosbach to the Principal bassoon chair. After three
seasons as Principal bassoon, Joseph Mosbach left the Boston
Symphony at the end of the 1917-1918 season, perhaps dismissed by
the incoming conductor, Henri Rabaud. Joseph Mosbach then went
on to become Principal bassoon of the Detroit Symphony under Ossip
Gabrilowitsch. Mosbach remained in Detroit for
twenty-one seasons 1919-1940. After retiring from the Detroit
Symphony, Joseph Mosbach moved to California where he died in
Riverside April 17, 1967 at age 78.
Abdon Laus was born in Algeria, then a territory of France on April 10,
1888. He studied bassoon at the Paris Conservatoire where he received
Premier prix in bassoon in the 1910 Concour. Abdon Laus performed in the
Paris Diaghilev Ballets Russes Orchestra under Pierre Monteux in 1913-1914.
There are differing versions as to whether or not it was Abdo Laus who performed
the difficult bassoon solos in the famous premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps May 29,
1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, conducted by Pierre Monteux
This leads to a funny story told by Richard Plaster, contrabassoon of
the Boston Symphony (1952-1992) about Pierre Monteux hiring Abdon Laus:
"...When Mr. Monteux had a first bassoon vacancy in Boston, he received
a phone call from a bassoon player who said, 'Maestro, I hear you are looking
for a first bassoonist. I was your first bassoonist in the Ballet Russe, and
I would like to play for you in Boston.' Laus was given the job then and
there. Laus 'friends' in the orchestra said that Monteux thought he was talking
to Benjamin Kohon..." 25. True or not, the story is certainly
amusing. As told in the
Benjamin Kohn - Philadelphia Orchestra
section, Benjamin Kohon did play in the Orchestra of Diaghilev's Ballet Russe
American tours in the summer of 1915 under Ansermet, and in summer 1916 under
Monteux. One contextual problem with the story is that Abdon Laus had
already joined the Boston Symphony as Principal bassoon in 1918 under Henri
Rabaud, before Monteux's appointment. But, perhaps Monteux did cause
the 1918 Laus hiring, since he conducted the Boston Symphony at the
beginning of the 1918-1919 season, before Henri Rabaud was able to arrive
in Boston. In any case, it is too good a story to pass up.
After the Ballet Russe tour, Abdon Laus had returned to France during World War 1,
and then returned to the Boston Symphony in the 1918-1919 season as Principal
bassoon. Laus also became a U.S. citizen the same year. Laus remained
Principal bassoon for eighteen seasons until demoted by Serge Koussevitzky after
the 1935-1936 season. Abdon Laus then moved to the third chair of the
Boston Symphony bassoon section for nine further seasons, 1936-1945.
There are some accounts that Abdon Laus also played the saxophone,
(and well) as needed in Boston Symphony concerts. Abdon Laus died
in Massachusetts, reportedly of cancer on July 29, 1945.
Raymond Allard was born in Sin-le-Noble, 20 km south of Lille in the
north of France in 1898. He initially studied at the Conservatoire
de Douai, 25 km east of his home, in preparation for the Paris Conservatoire
admissions examination. Accepted at Paris, Raymond Allard entered
and won first prize in bassoon at the Paris Conservatoire in 1922.
Allard was apparently recruited on the spot for the Boston Symphony.
Raymond Allard's nephew, Maurice Allard (1923-2004) was also a
leading bassoon player in Paris, and taught at the Paris
Conservatoire (retired in 1988) and told Gerald Corey that:
"...My uncle told me the day of his public concour for
first prize at the Conservatoire in Paris, the manager of the Boston
Symphony, present in the hall, proposed engagement with the BSO and
signed him up right there..." 58 So, following
graduation from the Conservatoire, Raymond Allard joined the Boston
Symphony bassoon section under Pierre Monteux in the 1922-1923 season,
replacing Edward Mueller (1908-1922) in the second bassoon chair.
Allard became Principal bassoon in the 1932-1933 season.
During World War 2, Raymond Allard played in an Army band.
Raymond Allard, rather than the German bassoon models (e.g. Heckel)
used in many American orchestras later, used exclusively the
Buffet-Crampon oboe (no white ring). Raymond
Allard was also known as an avid photographer. After retiring
from the Boston Symphony at the end of the 1952-1953 season at age
55, Raymond Allard visited France, and then settled in Leominster (suburban
Boston), Massachusetts. Raymond Allard died in nearby Fitchburg
Massachusetts on July 25, 1976, age 77. 110.
Sherman Walt was born in Virginia, Minnesota August 22, 1923 of
Russian-Jewish parents, Benjamin and Pearl Walt. When Sherman Walt
was a teen-ager, Dmitri Mitropoulos, then conductor of the
Minneapolis Symphony told Benjamin and Pearl "This boy has to play
the bassoon." Walt was admitted to the Curtis Institute in about
1939, and Mitropoulos sent Walt a monthly allowance. At Curtis,
Sherman Walt studied under
Ferdinand Del Negro
and the legendary
in about 1942, Sherman Walt entered the U.S. Army where he won a
Bronze Star, participating from the Normandy landings until the
entry into Germany. Upon discharge, Sherman Walt returned to Curtis
for his graduation with the Class of 1946. Immediately thereafter,
Sherman Walt joined the bassoon section of the Chicago Symphony
in the 1946-1947 season. On the departure of long-time Chicago
Principal bassoon Hugo Fox to start his Fox instrument company (making
bassoons and other double-reed instruments) in 1949, Sherman
Walt became Principal bassoon of the Chicago Symphony for two
seasons, 1949-1951. In the 1953-1954 season, based in part on a
recommendation by George Szell, Sherman Walt joined the Boston
Symphony under Charles Munch as Principal bassoon. Sherman Walt was
Principal bassoon of the Boston Symphony for 36 seasons. During
this time, Sherman Walt was a musical legend among bassoonists because
of his long career, his rich and clean intonation, and his many
students. Sherman Walt taught bassoon at Boston University
and the New England Conservatory. Sherman Walt retired from the
Boston Symphony at the end of the 1988-1989 season in May,
1989. Sadly, Sherman Walt died just months after
retiring, hit by an automobile in suburban Boston on October 26,1989.
Richard Svoboda was born in Nebraska on September 24, 1956. He entered
the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, where he studied the bassoon with
Gary Echols and music with Emanuel Wishnow 112. Richard
Svoboda graduated with a bachelor of music education with distinction in 1978.
Following graduation, Richard Svoboda studied bassoon with George Berry, then
and still today Principal bassoon of the St. Louis Symphony, who had visited
Lincoln as part of a St. Louis Symphony tour 112. Following
his studies with George Barry, Richard Svoboda performed for ten seasons as
Principal bassoon with the Jacksonville (Florida) Symphony. In the 1989-1990
season, Richard Svoboda was selected as Principal horn of the Boston Symphony
following on from Sherman Walt. Richard Svoboda is reported to play a Heckel
bassoon. He has also exercised his chamber music flair through his playing
with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players since joining in 1989. His activities
in contemporary works have included John William's bassoon work Five Sacred
Trees, and the 2007 premiere of Michael Gandolfi's
Concerto for Bassoon. An additional distinction is that he is
not only respected as section leader, but particularly well-liked by his
colleagues. Beginning in 2011, Richard Svoboda is appointed Chair of
Woodwinds at the New England Conservatory.
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A Clarinet and the Boston Symphony Orchestra On Tour
From its earliest years, the Boston Symphony Orchestra toured widely,
first in the U.S. and then internationally. George Norwood Humphrey,
long-time BSO viola recounts 121 an amusing BSO touring story.
The violinist Henri Casadesus (1879-1947 and uncle of pianist
Robert Casadesus) and the composer Alfredo Casella (1883-1947) were
both, among other things, advocates of baroque and early music.
Casella had also been a conductor of the Boston Pops 1927-1929.
Humphrey recalls that both Casadesus and Casella (as harpsichordist)
were touring with the BSO, and Casadesus liked to visit shops in each
city, hoping to find potentially valuable old musical instruments.
Casadesus found an old clarinet in one city, and took it back to the BSO
hotel. Before going to bed, Casadesus saw that the clarinet still
had a reed, picked it up, and played some of the French song The
Pleasure of Love. At breakfast the next morning, Casella
said "Henri, I heard a clarinet in the hotel last night. Did you
hear it?" Casadesus, being a great joker, pretended surprise
and observed that Casella must be fatigued from the travel. The
next night, in the next town, Casadesus repeated his clarinet
playing. The following morning Casella, now somewhat nervous,
asked Casadesus if he had heard the clarinet?. Casadesus replied
that he heard nothing, that Casella must indeed be exhausted,
and suggested a good doctor in the next town. Casella, after
visiting the doctor, and receiving some mild medication, returned
to the Pullman car of the BSO train. That night, Casadesus
waited patiently until Casella gathered his toilet articles, and
went down the corridor to the toilet. Casadesus then took out
his clarinet and prepared to play The Pleasure of Love
outside the bathroom door. Suddenly, to Casadesus's surprise
and consternation, the door flew open, and standing there was
Casella, staring straight into the eyes of Casadesus.
Principal Clarinets Boston Symphony Orchestra
1881-1888 Eustach Strasser
Eustach Strasser was born in Munich, Germany in September, 1847.
He studied clarinet and Saxophone in Bavaria. He emigrated to the
U.S. in 1868. The next year, in 1869, he formed a saxophone quartet
in Philadelphia 63, and he lived in Philadelphia for at
least the next decade. In 1878, Eustach Strasser played saxophone
. That same year Strasser toured Europe with
Gilmore’s Band, under bandmaster Patrick S. Gilmore (1829-1892).
Eustach Strasser was the first Principal clarinet of the Boston Symphony,
serving eight seasons under Georg Henschel and Wilhelm Gericke.
While at the BSO, and after leaving the orchestra, Eustach Strasser
taught clarinet at the New England Conservatory 16.
He continued to teach at least until 1904. Eustach Strasser with
Gericke and the Boston Symphony gave the US premier of Bizet's
L'Arlésienne Suite no 2. This suite included music from
Bizet's opera La jolie fille de Perth, with the saxophone, then
a relatively new instrument substituting for the soprano.
Eustach Strasser was also adept in the repair of brass instruments,
and in the 1880s briefly joined George S. Haynes in Boston in
the manufacture of musical instruments 17. Eustach
Strasser was active in the Boston music scene at least until 1925.
1888-1889 Evans Akeroyd
After the first Principal clarinet, Eustach Strasser, there were
five different Principal clarinets during the next 16 seasons.
The first of these was Evans Akeroyd. Evans Akeroyd was
born in England on November 13, 1857 into a musical
family. Evans Akeroyd's brothers
(1849-before 1930) were both violinists.
All three brothers were born in Bradford in Yorkshire in the Midlands
of England. The brothers emigrated to Boston in 1878.
After the departure of Eustach Strasser, Evans Akeroyd was appointed
as Principal clarinet of the Boston Symphony for one season,
1888-1889. His partner at the first stand was the
second Bb clarinet Peter Metzger (1848-).
what we would term today Associate Principal clarinet, there being no
Eb clarinet position in the early BSO years. Peter Metzer was in
the second clarinet chair of the Boston Symphony for twenty-three seasons,
1882-1905. He played with the first seven Principal clarinets of
the BSO from Eustach Strasser to Georges Grisez. Evans Akeroyd
was the second of these for the single season in which Akeroyd played
with the Boston Symphony. It would seem that either Wilhelm Gericke
was dissatisfied or Arthur Nikisch, arriving as Music Director the next
season 1889-1890 wanted a change, but in any case, Evans Akeroyd's contract
was not renewed. However, his two violinist brothers served in the
Boston Symphony longer: Julius Akeroyd served for 32 seasons 1881-1913.
Vincent Akeroyd (1849-before 1930) was with the
orchestra for seven seasons, 1881-1887. After leaving the orchestra,
Evans Akeroyd played in the orchestra of the Columbia Theatre in Boston,
and other venues. Evans Akeroyd died in Boston in 1920.
detail of 1891 Boston Musical Herald photo: Boston Symphony Archives
"G. Goldschmidt" was Principal clarinet for five seasons 1889-1894.
This may have been Guido Goldschmidt born in Vienna in 1850, but this has
not yet been verified. Surprising so little trace after five seasons.
He was active in the Molé Chamber Music Concert Club:
Charles Molé flute,
Friedrich Mueller oboe,
G. Goldschmidt clarinet,
Adolf Guetter bassoon and
Frank Hain horn 166.
Portrait by Pourtau's friend Félix Vallotton (1865-1925)
Emil Paur, after his first season decided to make another Principal
clarinet change. Léon Pourtau was engaged for
the 1894-1895 season. Léon Pourtau was born in Bordeaux,
France in 1872. He started his career as an illustrator and
painter. In his youth in the mid 1880s he played clarinet in
a cafe orchestra in La Vilette, in the north east of Paris (19ème),
at that time a poor area. He then toured France with a circus
troop, playing and washing the elephants. This apparently was
good training, since he gained admittance to the Paris Conservatoire
from among the many competitors. His Conservatoire
Premier prix would have been in about the 1891 or 1892 Concour.
By 1894, Léon Pourtau was teaching clarinet and Saxophone at the Lyon
Conservatoire. He also was Principal clarinet of the Lyon
Opera 150. Meanwhile, in painting, Pourtau
was also developing in pointillist and impressionistic
painting styles, including studying with his friend Georges
Seurat (1859-1891). Léon Pourtau was brought to the Boston Symphony
as Principal clarinet by Emil Paur for the 1894-1895 season.
Continuing his paining, Léon Pourtau had his only exhibition of his
paintings in the 1896 Annual Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy
of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Pourtau remained with the Boston
Symphony for four seasons, returning each summer to France.
However, this resulted in tragedy. At the end of Pourtau's
second season, on July 4, 1898
returning to Boston after summer holiday in France, Principal flute
, his wife and child along with
Principal oboe, and
, Principal clarinet all perished in the shipwreck
of the French steamship La Bourgogne killing 600 persons
218. As well as being a major tragedy,
this loss of three of the Boston Symphony section heads
precipitated a crisis for the Boston Symphony,
and its conductor Wilhelm Gericke just returning to the
Boston Symphony as Music Director after nine
years. After rapid searches in France and Germany, the
Boston Symphony selected a Paris Conservatoire graduate living
in the USA, Alexandre Selmer as the fourth Principal clarinet of the
Henri Selmer (left) and Alexandre Selmer circa 1904
Alexandre Selmer was born in France in October, 1864. He and his
brother Henri Selmer were musicians, and both studied at the Paris
Conservatoire. Alexandre studied with Cyrille Rose (1830-1903)
of the Conservatoire, who was also clarinetist with the l'Opéra de
Paris. Alexandre Selmer gained his Premier at the
Conservatoire in about the 1885 Concour. He departed
that summer of 1882 to the US in 1885. Henri (Paris Conservatoire Premier
prix 1880 Concour) and Alexandre had started repairing instruments
and manufacturing clarinet mouthpieces and reeds. In 1898,
Henri Selmer with one workman began the manufacture of complete
clarinets. Alexandre organized a Selmer US company in 1904
to import Henri Selmer instrument. At this time, Alexandre
Selmer also began US manufacture of his own design: "Alexandre"
clarinets. Experts on such design say that Alexandre Selmer
clarinets were not manufactured from the Henri Selmer prototype,
but rather a different (and they say better) design. In about
1918, Alexandre Selmer went back to help Henri in the expansion of their
instrument manufacture. Alexandre Selmer manufactured the
"Alexandre" clarinet in France, also, and experts say that
the French production is stamped "France" whereas the US
production has no location indicated. Later Selmer France
clarinets are said to have adopted the design advantages of the
Alexandre Selmer was appointed Principal clarinet of the Boston Symphony
in the 1898-1899 season by Wilhelm Gericke, who had just returned to
Boston for his second period of music direction. This was
following the unexpected death of Principal clarinet Léon Pourtau.
Alexandre Selmer was Principal clarinet for three seasons until the end
of 1900-1901. He then was Principal clarinet of the Cincinnati
Symphony 1902-1904 under conductor
Frank Van der Stucken
. Alexandre Selmer during these years was also conducting
clarinet and saxophone training session across the US, which spread the use of
Selmer instruments. Alexandre Selmer was Principal Clarinet of the New York
Philharmonic for two seasons, 1909-1911. After Alexandre Selmer returned
to Paris to assist the family business, he continued to cross the US frequently
to present classes to aid musicians, while expanding use of Selmer instruments,
as is shown by the brochure, below. Alexandre Selmer died in France in
Victor Lebailly was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the north of France
(as was Principal bassoon
) on December 12, 1872.
Lebailly studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where he won the Premier
prix in the 1888 Concour 38. He played in the orchestra
of the Théâtre de l’Opéra-Comique, along
with his bassoonist colleague
40. Lebailly was Principal clarinet in
Boston for two seasons, 1901-1903, and then remained in the clarinet section
for one additional season 1903-1904. During his Boston term, Lebailly also
played with the
Kneisel String Quartet
and with the
Georges Longy Club
, a wind chamber music group. After his
return to Paris in the next season, Lebailly joined l'Orchestre de
la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire for eight seasons
1905-1913. Lebailly in 1905 also played with the Paul Taffanel
group Société de musique de chambre pour instruments
à vent37 (quite a title !), and in 1906 with other
wind chamber groups in Paris. In 1907, Lebailly began teaching in
l'École Nationale de Musique de
Boulogne-sur-Mer, back in his home town 36.
Augusto Vannini was born in Italy in September 1869, and emigrated
to the U.S. in April, 1896 to Pittsburgh. After two seasons, Wilhelm
Gericke decided to engage a new Principal clarinet, and in the 1903-1904
season, Victor Lebailly moved to the second chair clarinet position, and
Augusto Vannini joined the Boston Symphony as Principal clarinet.
Gericke apparently was not fully satisfied, because this process of change
occurred again after one season. In the 1904-1905 season, Vannini
moved to the second clarinet chair, replacing Victor Lebailly who had
by this time returned to Paris. In the Principal chair, Georges Grisez
joined the Boston Symphony from France. Augusto Vannini had an extensive
career with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, serving 23 seasons,
1903-1926. During the early 1920s, Augusto Vannini directed a
chamber group, the Boston Symphony Ensemble. Augusto
Vannini retired from the Boston Symphony at the end of the 1925-1926
season. In the late 1920s and 1930, Augusto Vannini remained
in Boston, teaching music. He died there in April, 1932
Click here to see Augusto Vannini in the 1914 photograph of the
Boston Symphony wind section
Georges Grisez was born in Paris on March 31, 1884. He likely
studied clarinet with the famous Arthur Grisez (not his father, perhaps
an uncle?). He studied at the Paris Conservatoire and played in
the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire Orchestra 1903-1904.
Georges Grisez came to the US in October, 1904 aged 20 to become Principal
clarinet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1904-1914. During that
period, he played with his close friend
, Principal oboe of the Boston Symphony in the Georges Longy
Club, a wind chamber group 35.
Georges Grisez made several acoustic recordings of clarinet
excerpts in 1913 for Phono-Cut records of Boston. He played
the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with the Letz Quartet at the Maverick
Concerts at Woodstock in 1921. He was principal clarinet of
the Philadelphia Orchestra for the 1922-1923 season. Later
he was flute of the New York Symphony. He was a member of the
New York Chamber Society in 1921. 1927-1934, Georges Grisez taught
Clarinet at the University of Minnesota 34. He was
also Principal clarinet of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, probably
during the same years as his teaching at the University. Grisez
joined the NBC Symphony in its initial season in 1938. Alexander Williams
was Principal clarinet during most of the NBC years. Williams was
solo clarinet at the New York Philharmonic under Toscanini, who brought
Williams to the NBC Symphony. Georges Grisez then became Principal clarinet
of the Baltimore Symphony, where in fact he died, during a performance.
In 1946 Grisez was on stage with the Baltimore Symphony when he collapsed
performing the opening glissando of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (1924),
and later died aged only 52 25. Georges Grisez's later
successor as Principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Ricardo Morales
said in an interview that the exposed opening glissando of the Rhapsody in Blue
is "one of the scariest to play"...Why? Because everyone knows how it
goes, and if it is not quire right, everyone immediately notices...".
Perhaps this also had an effect on even as great a clarinet player as Georges
Gaston Hamelin (second from right) with Wind Quintet of l'Orchestre National de La
Radiodiffusion Française - 1940s
Gaston Hamelin was born at Saint-Georges-Sur-Baulche,
Yonne (west of Paris) France in 1884. Hamelin came with
his wife Marthe, who was a singer, and young daughter to the U.S. in
Gaston Hamelin joined the Boston Symphony as Principal clarinet
under Serge Koussevitzky in the 1926-1927 season. His son,
Armand Hamelin (1907- ) also played in the Boston Symphony clarinet
section for one season 1929-1930. After four seasons, The Boston
Symphony did not renew Gaston Hamelin contract. According to Pamela
Weston 39, Serge Koussevitzky did not want Hamelin to play his
Henri Selmer (1858-1941) manufactured metal clarinet, a "Full
Boehm Metal Clarinet in A". Therefore, at the end of the
1929-1930 season, Gaston Hamelin, his wife, daughter, and his son
Armand returned to France. One of Hamelin's students,
, later Principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1943-1951
followed Hamelin to Paris to study. Another Hamelin student,
Rosario Mazzeo (1911-1997) was a Boston Symphony clarinet player for 33
seasons, 1933-1966. Hamelin recorded for HMV in the 1930s.
Gaston Hamelin played clarinet with the Piero Coppola orchestra
in the late 1930s. During the 1940s and 1950s,
Hamelin played for Radio French Orchestra (
l'Orchestre National de La Radiodiffusion Française).
Victor (or Viktor) Polatschek was born January 29, 1889 in Chotzen, Bohemia
(or in Czech, Choceň) in what
is today the Czech Republic. Polatschek studied clarinet at
the Vienna State Academy 68. Victor Polatschek taught at the
Vienna Conservatory and played at the Vienna State Opera. He was
consequently also clarinetist in the Vienna Philharmonic 1912-1930
69. As such, he of course played in both the Vienna Opera
and in the Philharmonic. Polatschek was also active in his teaching of
clarinet at the Vienna Conservatory, which caused him to compose works
for clarinet which also have a pedagogical function 113.
Notable are his etudes based on themes from famous works, including of
Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire ! Victor Polatschek emigrated to the
U.S. to join the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky. Victor Polatschek
was Principal clarinet from 1930 until his early death. Victor Polatschek
died suddenly in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, ten minutes from Tanglewood, during
the Tanglewood Festival on July 17, 1948,
age only 60.
Gino Cioffi was born in Naples, Italy in 1913 of a musical family.
Cioffi studied clarinet at the Naples Conservatory with Piccione and
Carpio. Cioffi graduated from the Conservatory in 1930.
(note: was Gino Gioffi related to
" Principal violin of the Metropolitan Opera
Orchestra two generations previously?) Gino Cioffi arrived in the U.S.
in 1937, playing first with the orchestra of the New York Radio City
Music Hall. Cioffi then played with the Pittsburgh Symphony
until the end of the 1941-1942 season. Cioffi then went to the Cleveland
Orchestra as Principal clarinet for two seasons 1942-1944. Over the next
six seasons, Gino Cioffi was at the Metropolitan Opera, and briefly for
the New York Philharmonic. Then, Gino Cioffi became Principal clarinet
of the Boston Symphony in the 1950-1951 season under Charles Munch. Gino
Cioffi was always a colorful personality. It is said that during his audition
with Charles Munch in 1950, he played beautifully the excerpt from Daphnis et Chloé.
The story is that Cioffi than said "Pretty good, pretty good, huh? D'ya wanta to hear
something else?" According to the story, Munch immediately hired Cioffi, saying
"Anyone with that much confidence we have to have in the orchestra." Cioffi
typically played on an adapted Selmer clarinet 59 a Crystal mouthpiece.
An irreverent story told more than once about Cioffi is that he would frequently say
"...When I'ma play good, its a justa like Jesus Christ. When I'ma play
bad, its still better than anybody else!" 59 Gino Cioffi remained
Boston Symphony Principal clarinet for 21 seasons, retiring (or in fact, being asked
to retire) at the end of the 1969-1970 season. He may have been retired both
because of being at retirement age, and due to cardiac problems (he had gained considerable
weight in later years). A story told by Gino Cioffi student and clarinet scholar
Sherman Friedland 119 shows Gino Cioffi in his later years still to be a
distinctive personality. Cioffi just after his dismissal was walking with BSO Bass
clarinet Felix 'Phil' Viscuglia, and every few steps, Cioffi would "...stop
and say to Phil, "hey what I did?, What I did?..." Gino Cioffi lived
in suburban Boston until after 2001.
Harold Wright, known by his friends as "Buddy", was born in
Wayne, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia on December 4, 1926.
Buddy Wright began playing the clarinet when he was 12. In the
1940s, following World War 2, Wright studied with Philadelphia Orchestra
At the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. After graduation
from Curtis in 1950 94, Harold Wright was successively
a clarinet of the Houston Symphony and the next year became
Principal clarinet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
Until the end of the 1969-1970 season, Harold Wright was
Principal clarinet of the National Symphony Orchestra in
Washington. Harold Wright joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1970
and served with Boston until his death. During this time, he
was also Principal clarinet with the Casals Festival Orchestra for 7
summers. He also performed and recorded with the Marlboro Festival,
under Rudolf Serkin, Wright was a member of the Boston
Symphony Chamber Players. Harold Wright died suddenly of a
heart attack while participating in the Marlboro Festival at
Marlboro, Vermont on August 11, 1993 106.
William Hudgins was born November 4, 1957. He studied at Boston University with
his predecessor, BSO Principal clarinet
Harold 'Buddy' Wright. William Hudgins also
studied with BSO clarinet
Pasquale Cardillo, including at the Tanglewood Music Center
in the summer of 1979. He also studied at Aspen Music Festival and with clarinetists
Jules Serpentini (Philadelphia Orchestra),
and Richard Waller (Cincinnati Symphony).
William Hudgins was Principal clarinet with the Orquesta Sinfonica Municipal of Caracas,
Venezuela in the 1980s. Then, he took the same post with the Charleston Symphony
Orchestra (South Carolina). He was also Principal clarinet of the Atlanta Opera.
William Hudgins joined the Boston Symphony clarinet section on the 1992-1993
season. William Hudgins is married to another great clarinet player,
Catherine Hudgins, who has had an active career not only in several orchestras,
but also in chamber groups, and in festivals, such as the Spoleto Festival in
Italy. After two seasons in Boston, William Hudgins was selected as Principal clarinet
of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the 1994-1995 season, following the sudden death of his
teacher and friend Buddy Wright in August 11, 1993. As such, William Hudgins joins
an orchestral tradition of clarinet playing that is not surpassed by any other of the
1925 - Wind section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra
standing: Boaz Piller (contrabassoon), Fred Bettoney (bassoon),
Raymond Allard (bassoon), Abdon Laus (bassoon), Edmondo Allegra (clarinet), Paul
Mimart (bass clarinet), Augusto Vannini (clarinet), Emilio F. Arcieri (clarinet)
seated: August Battles (piccolo), Pat Amerena (flute), Gaston Bladet
(flute), George Laurent (Principal flute), Fernand Gillet (Principal oboe), Jean
deVergie (oboe), Henry Horatio Stanislaus (oboe), Louis Speyer (English horn)
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Edward Heindl or Heind'l was born on April 26, 1837 in Bavaria,
Germany. Edward Heindl and his two brothers, Alexander Heindl
and Henry Heindl were all orchestral musicians. Edward, like
his father was a flute player. Edward Heindl, as well as studying
with his father, was a student of the legendary flute teacher and flute
designer Theobald Boehm (1794-1881) for whom the Boehm flute is named.
In 1847, Edward Heindl toured Hungary with the great pianist and
composer Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) 65. The Heindl
brothers emigrated to the U.S. in 1868. From 1872-1875, Edward
Heindl toured as part of the
Mendelssohn Quintette Club
. The Mendelssohn Quintet Club at that time consisted of a
eminent roster of some of the very few professional orchestral
musicians of the US in that pioneering era:
of the original
Charles N. Allen
, violin, who was in the Boston Symphony violin section in
its first 1881-1882 season,
, viola, also later Principal viola of the Boston Symphony 1883-1885,
Edward Heindl, flute, and
, cello who was later the first Principal cello of the
Philadelphia Orchestra. Weiner,
previously solo flute of the Theodore Thomas Orchestra in the 1870s
replace Heindl as flute in the Mendelssohn Quintet 23.
, Edward Heindl, and
all joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the orchestra’s
inaugural 1881-1882 season. Edward
Heindl was Principal flute of the Boston Symphony 1881-1887, and then
became second flute for another nine seasons from 1887-1896. Edward
Heindl died in 1896 at the relatively young age of 59.
About Edward Heindl's death, in The Story of the Flute
Macauley Fitzgibbon tells a strange story: '... Heind'l...became
a leading player in Boston, and is reported to have possessed a very
pure tone and good execution. He died of a disease contracted from an
infected flute which a stranger had requested him to try...'
detail of 1891 Boston Musical Herald photo: Boston Symphony Archives
showing Artur Nikisch in foreground and Charles Molé behind
Charles Molé was born in France in 1857, Charles Molé studied at
the Paris Conservatoire with the legendary Paul Taffanel (1844-1908).
At the Conservatoire, Charles Molé won the Premier prix for flute in the
1874 Concour 13. In the 1880s, was Principal flute with
the Orchestra of the Théâtre de l'Opéra Comique in Paris.
For the 1887-1888 season, Wilhelm Gericke recruited Charles Molé to come
to Boston as Principal flute, where he remained for nine seasons
as Principal flute 1887-1896. In 1891-1892, Charles Molé
organized a series of concerts for wind groups,
a precursor of the
Georges Longy Club
wind concerts. In one of these concerts, Charles
Molé and Arthur Nikisch played a Bach Flute Sonata (perhaps the famous
Bach Sonata BWV 1030). He also organized the
Molé Chamber Music Concert Club:
Charles Molé flute,
Friedrich Mueller oboe,
G. Goldschmidt clarinet,
Adolf Guetter bassoon and
Frank Hain horn 166.
Concerning the transition to metal flutes
and the effect of Charles Molé, the excellent website
"...In 1887 Charles Molé brought the first silver Louis Lot
B-foot flute (No. 4358, 1887) to the Boston Symphony orchestra the
first of a long succession of French Conservatoire graduates who
nearly all played Louis Lot flutes."
Charles Molé was Principal flute of the New York Symphony
under Walter Damrosch for two seasons: 1903-1905.
During his second New York Symphony season, Charles Molé died
in New York City on January 8, 1905, age only 47. He had played the
New York Symphony concert of Sunday afternoon and suddenly died Sunday
1896-1898 Léon Jacquet (born Léon-Ambroise Jacquet)
Léon-Ambroise Jacquet was born in Paris in 1866 .
He gained entry to the Paris Conseratoire where he studied
flute under Joseph Henri Altes (1836-1895). He also
studied composition with Jules Massenet (1842-1912).
Jacquet gained his
Premier accessit in 1881, his Second prix in 1882, and Premier Prix
in 1883 209. After graduation, Jacquet played in
the orchestra of the Théâtre de la Gallé, Paris. Then, the
orchestra of Concerts de Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.
Léon Jacquet rapidly progressed in Paris, and was Principal
flute of the Paris Opera, and Principal flute of l'Orchestre
de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.
The conductor Wilhelm Gericke in the summers following his first and
second seasons with the Boston Symphony replaced many musicians with
candidates whom Gericke had recruited in Europe. He brought Léon
Jacquet from France to join the Boston Symphony. Léon Jacquet
came to the Boston Symphony in the 1896-1897 season, succeeding
Charles Molé. However, Jacquet's time with the Boston Symphony
was tragically terminated. At the end of Jacquet's
second season, on July 4, 1898
returning to Boston after summer holiday in France, Principal flute
, his wife and child along with
Principal oboe, and
, Principal clarinet all perished in the shipwreck
of the French steamship La Bourgogne killing 600 persons
218. As well as being a major tragedy,
this loss of three of the Boston Symphony section heads
precipitated a crisis for the Boston Symphony,
and its conductor Wilhelm Gericke just returning to the
Boston Symphony as Music Director after nine
years. With the aid of the Conservatoire, Gericke was
able to recruit another Conservatoire graduate, André Maquarre,
to come to Boston as the fourth Principal flute of the Boston Symphony.
André Maquarre, older brother of
was born in Brussels, Belgium on January 13, 1875. (A third and
middle brother, Jean Louis - or John - Maquarre, born in Belgium
August 25, 1878 was also a musician in New York City. There
seems also to have been a fourth brother, Guillaume, or William who
lived in Paris.) After studying with his flutist father, Clement
Maquarre, André Maquarre entered the Paris Conservatoire at the same
time (about 1890) as the famous flutist Georges Barrère (1876-1944).
André won the Premiere prix for flute at the Conservatoire in
the 1893 Concour. André Maquarre was Principal flute of the Boston
Symphony Orchestra for twenty seasons, from 1898-1918 11.
In 1918, he followed his brother Daniel to Philadelphia and was his successor
as Principal flute of the Philadelphia Orchestra for three seasons.
The various Philadelphia Orchestra references indicate André Maquarre as
remaining through the end of the 1920-1921 season, but Robert F. Cole
21 states that Stokowski dismissed Maquarre in April, 1921
during a rehearsal, and soon recruited
from the New York Chamber Music Society for the Principal flute
position. André Maquarre then went to Los Angeles where he was
Principal flute from 1922-1929. André Maquarre returned to Europe
in about 1930, and in Paris, became a member of La Société des auteurs,
compositeurs et éditeurs de musique, a government organized company
responsible for the management of authors and composers rights and
copyrights. André Maquarre died in Paris in 1936.
Georges Laurent was born in Paris on June 7, 1886. Georges Laurent ook his
first music lessons from his uncle, Louis Bas, Principal oboe of the l'Orchestre
de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire. At age 12, Laurent
began studying flute with Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941). Georges Laurent
gained admission to the Paris Conservatoire where he studied flute 1901-1905,
including with Gaubert. Georges Laurent won the Premier prix in flute in
the 1905 Concour 57. Laurent came to US as part of a French
good-will tour of the Garde républicaine Band in the summer of 1918.
Four musicians from the Garde
républicaine band were hired into the Boston Symphony by Henri Rabaud for the
Louis Speyer English horn,
Georges Laurent flute,
Georges Mager trumpet,
Émile Stiévenard, bass clarinet.
In this way, Georges Laurent following the departure of André Maquarre was
appointed Principal flute in 1918-1919, and retained thereafter by Pierre
Monteux. In 1921, Georges Laurent founded the Boston Flute Players
Club, active from 1921-1940. Georges Laurent served with
the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 34 seasons. Laurent retired
at the end of the 1951-1952 season after playing at the Tanglewood
summer festival under Munch and Monteux, having turned 65.
Georges Laurent also taught flute for many years at the
New England Conservatory. Some of his
well-known students include
James 'Jimmy" Pappoutsakis
(Boston flute 1937-1977),
Harry Moskovitz (New York City Opera),
Robert Willoughby (Cincinnati Symphony,
Cleveland Orchestra), and
(Boston piccolo 1965-1990, and sister of cellist
Winifred Schaefer Mayes
Have a look also at his picture with the 1925 Boston Symphony
by clicking here
. Georges Laurent died September 23, 1964.
Doriot Anthony Dwyer was born was born on March 6, 1922 in Streator,
Illinois. Hers is a musical family. Her father, William
Anthony (1890-1986) was an engineer and founder of the Anthony Company, truck
manufacturers, and her mother Edith Wetzel Anthony (1892-1973), a flutist.
Doriot's sister Betty was a pianist. Doriot Anthony was also a
cousin of the suffrage advocate Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906). In
1933, Doriot Anthony began study with John Wummer (1899-1977) of the
Detroit Symphony (later of the New York Philharmonic). Then,
starting about 1934, Doriot studied flute with
(1900-1993) of the Chicago Symphony for five years, her first
well-known teacher. In the late 1930s, Doriot Anthony spent
a summer at the
Music Camp at Saugerties, New York.
, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Concertmaster
was the conductor of the camp orchestra. Henrotte after
working with Dwyer that summer recommended she apply to the Curtis
Institute, where he was on the faculty. However,
(1895-1967) of the Philadelphia Orchestra turned down her
admission. Instead, in the Summer of 1939, Doriot Anthony
won a scholarship to the Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan,
where she played in an orchestra for the first time.
At Interlochen, Howard Hanson, Director of the Eastman School of Music
took an interest in Dwyer, and offered her a scholarship to attend
Eastman in the Autumn of 1939. There, from 1939-1943,
Dwyer studied with Joseph Mariano (1911-2007), Principal flute of
the Rochester Philharmonic 1935-1974. Upon her graduation
in from the Eastman School, in the 1943-1944 season, Doriot Anthony
Dwyer became second flute in the National Symphony
Orchestra of Washington. During
this Washington period, Dwyer studied with William Kincaid in
Philadelphia and he encouraged her to apply to Curtis again, but
Dwyer decided against this. However, Doriot Anthony Dwyer
found the National Symphony to be below-standard as to overall
quality. When her friend Britton Johnson, the Principal flute
of the National Symphony, left in 1945 to become Principal at the
Baltimore Symphony, Doriot Anthony decided to move to New York to
freelance. While in New York, she had the opportunity to join
the 'Ballet Russe Highlights', directed by Léonide Massine, with
Doriot as Principal flute. She toured until the group ran
out of money, and then went on to Los Angeles, where she settled
in 1946 becoming a Hollywood studio player. For 3 years, she
played in the 'Standard Hour' radio orchestra. She also won
a position as second flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under
Alfred Wallenstein 35. Doriot Anthony was with
the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 6 seasons, 1946-1952. In the summer
of 1947, Bruno Walter, Music Director of the Hollywood Bowl
for the 13 week season, hired Dwyer as Principal flute. In the
summer of 1952, George Laurent was retiring as Principal flute of the
Boston Symphony Orchestra after 34 seasons. Doriot Anthony
auditioned and when she was selected as Principal flute the Boston
Symphony in the 1952-1953 season under Charles Munch, it was often said
that she was the first woman appointed permanently to a Principal chair
of a major symphony orchestra. Perhaps they did not recall that
(1916-2000) was Principal horn of the Chicago Symphony for
seven seasons 1941-1947. The next year, Doriot Anthony began teaching
at New England Conservatory, with other members of the Boston Symphony
Woodwind Quintet and continued there for 21 seasons, 1953-1974.
In 1954 at age 32 Doriot Anthony married Thomas Francis Dwyer, a
physician. In 1973, Doriot Anthony Dwyer joined Boston University,
and in 1990, subsequent to her retirement from the Boston Symphony, she
taught at the Boston Conservatory. Doriot Anthony Dwyer was
honored with an honorary doctorate degree from Harvard University in
1982 As a teacher, her activities have included not only the
New England Conservatory and Boston University, but also teaching
at Tanglewood during several summers, and numerous master classes in
the US and internationally.
March 1995-1997 Elizabeth A. Ostling Acting Principal Flute
According to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Elizabeth Ostling, who was
Assistant Principal flute in 1994-1997 and Associate Principal flute
1997-present, also served as acting Principal from March 1995 to the
appointment of Jacques Zoon in 1997. Elizabeth Ostling was born
November 6, 1972, and grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, a western suburb
of New York City. She studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia
with Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner. Ostling graduated from Curtis
in 1994. Elizabeth Ostling also studied at the Tanglewood Summer festival,
and while at Curtis, she won First Prize in the quadrennial Koussevitzky
Competition for Woodwinds in New York City. Elizabeth Ostling was appointed
Assistant Principal flute for the Boston Symphony in the 1994-1995 season. She
was advanced to Associate Principal flute in 1997, the post she currently holds.
He frequent solos in Boston, including with the Boston Pops has gained Elizabeth
Ostling a loyal following, including of her chamber music concerts.
Jacques Zoon was born in the Netherlands in 1961. He studied
at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, with Koos
Verheul and Harrie Starreveld. Zoon won the Jean-Pierre
Rampal flute competition, and the Scheveningen International
competition. In 1981, Zoon won second prize in the Willem
Pijper flute competition. Zoon received early orchestral
experience, playing with the Netherlands Youth Orchestra and
the European Community Youth Orchestra. Zoon was later Principal
flute at the Residentie Orchestra at the Hague. Then, 1988-1994, Zoon
became Principal flute at the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
Jacques Zoon was then Principal flute of Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Zoon taught at the Rotterdam Conservatory 1988-1994. Zoon in 1994 also
taught at University of Indiana. While in Boston, Zoon also taught at
the New England Conservatory and at Boston University. The Principal
flute chair of the Boston Symphony having been open for several
years, Jacques Zoon was appointed Principal flute of the Boston Symphony
in the 1997-1978 season. He remained for 5 seasons, including a leave
of absence. In 2001, Jacques Zoon took an eighteen month leave of
absence from the Boston Symphony. In 2002, he decided not to return to
Boston, but to move his career away from the orchestra 66.
More recently, Jacques Zoon has relocated to Switzerland, where he teaches
at the Geneva Conservatoire, and pursues a career as a solo flutist.
Elizabeth Rowe was born in Eugene, Oregon in June, 1974. She
studied at University of Southern California with
Jim Walker, former Principal Flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Elizabeth Rowe was Principal Flute with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic
(Indiana). Later, for two seasons, Rowe joined the New World
Symphony in Florida, an intensive training orchestra directed by
Michael Tilson Thomas. Elizabeth Rowe then was appointed Assistant
Principal Flute with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Yuri
Temirkanov in about 2001. Then, until the end of the 2003-2004
season Rowe was Assistant Principal flute of the National Symphony
Orchestra. Elizabeth Rowe was appointed Principal flute of the
Boston Symphony in the 2004-2005 season, under James Levine. She
competed against some 251 other candidates, reviewed by Levine and 12 BSO
musicians 111. Elizabeth Rowe's husband, husband, Glen
Cherry, whom she met in 1996 at Tanglewood, was a violinist in the National
Symphony, and also joined the Boston Symphony in the 2004-2005 season.
Elizabeth Rowe teaches at the New England Conservatory in Boston, and
summers at the Tanglewood Music Center. She is particularly active as
a teacher, in which she is also said to be gifted; demanding, yet motivating.
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A Story about Boston Symphony Horn Heinrich Lorbeer:
Heinrich, or Henry E. Lorbeer was a long-time Boston Symphony
horn, serving forty-seven seasons, 1891-1937. He was also a
student of the legendary horn teacher Friedrich Gumpert
(1841-1906). George Norwood Humphrey, long-time (1934-1977) Boston
Symphony viola in his memoire 'Becoming a Musician'121 tells a fine story about Lorbeer: "...One of
our newer players had made a very bad showing in the Siegfried Horn Call
in a recent performance. In the tuning room, we were being bombarded by
this call from the new player. He could negotiate everything but the
top high note...Sitting at one of our tables playing cards was Lorbeer
our oldest horn player. He had been a very famous player, now playing
fourth horn, responsible for the very lowest notes on the instrument.
Without laying down his cards, Lorbeer took his horn in one hand, raised
the instrument to his lips, and played the very high note that had given
the young player so much trouble. He then put the horn down. We never heard
the horn call again during our tuning moments..."
Picture of Xavier Reiter (courtesy of Gregg Squires)
Xavier Reiter was born in Munich, Germany in March 1857. He
came to the United States in 1886 to join the Boston Symphony as
Principal horn under Wilhelm Gericke. Reiter
settled in Boston and he became a citizen in
1890. Reiter was often during his career in Boston and New
York referred to is the greatest horn player in the U.S.
As well as being a gifted horn player, Reiter was apparently what we
refer to as a "character". He wore his hair down over his
shoulders and also a beard and full moustache, as can be seen in the
photograph below. His total appearance seems to have been
something like Buffalo Bill. In the January 14, 1890 New York
Times article entitled "A Missing Horn Player", it further states
that Reiter "...wears a big, broad-brimmed Texas slouch hat...and
his manly form is enrapped in a big fur
According to David Mannes autobiography, it seems that Reiter
decided to leave Boston and the BSO when he and his two large
Russian Wolfhounds were arrested in the Boston Commons for bathing
his dogs in a public fountain 43. It would seem
difficult to be arrested for such a reason, but then Reiter was
'larger than life'. This image is reinforced by an amusing
account by the great horn player Milan Yancich (brother of Charles Yancich)
about Xavier Reiter. '...[Reiter's] transportation was a bicycle.
He often wore a tam and a cape training in the wind. He looked like Count
Dracula in pursuit of a victim. His horn was slung across his back as he rode
across the Boston Commons on his bicycle...'127.
After 1890, Reiter became Principal horn
of the New York Philharmonic Society during the 1910s.
At that time, he also helped form the Philharmonic Ensemble, a
wind quintet with violin consisting of
clarinet, Xavier Reiter horn, August Mesnard
bassoon, Anton Fayer flute, and joined by
, then Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic
146. Earlier, in the 1900s,
Reiter was Principal horn of the Metropolitan
Opera Orchestra under Seidel, where he could enjoy his favorite
operas, particularly Wagner. It is said that Reiter was
instrumental in convincing his town in Westchester County, New York
to rename itself "Valhalla", Reiter being an avid admirer
of Richard Wagner and his Ring cycle. Bruno Jaenicke, the great
Boston horn player (1913-1918) and later Principal horn of the New York
Philharmonic wrote of Reiter (in an article edited by that
other great Boston Symphony horn, Harold Meek 1943-1963) "... I
want to mention a horn player who uses the B-flat horn, but whose
tone is as velvety and as poetical as that of any F horn players
I have known. He is Mr. Xavier Reiter. I remember the first
impression which his playing made on me. It was in Boston about
14 years ago. The New York Philharmonic played in Symphony Hall.
Mischa Elman played the Scotch Fantasy, but when Reiter had the
melody for only a few bars, he overshadowed Elman. But Reiter
can sing on his horn. And we other fellows better stick to the
F horn." 123. Xavier Reiter died in
Valhalla, New York, the town renamed by Reiter's lobbying to
honor his Wagner horn calls, on May 12, 1938.
(note: The photo of Xavier Reiter was kindly sent to me by Gregg
Squires, himself a
horn player in both the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Radio City
Music Hall orchestra. Gregg is a music producer and you can
visit him at his site
Albert Hackebarth was born in Germany June 20, 1854, and came to the
U.S. in 1880. Albert Hackebarth was a pioneer in
US orchestral horn performance. Hackebarth was a
horn player with the Theodore Thomas touring Orchestra in the late
1880s (about 1886-1890). At the same time as his service with
the Theodore Thomas Orchestra, Hackebarth was horn with the New York
Reed Club, a wind chamber music group. Hackebarth became
a US citizen in 1896. According to Howe 2,
Albert Hackebarth joined the Boston Symphony in its second season, 1882-1883,
although not all programs list him. It seems that Albert Hackebarth was
Principal horn of the Boston Symphony 1882-1885. Hackebarth returned
as Principal horn in the 1890-1891 season under Wilhelm Gericke.
Hackebarth remained in the first chair of the horn section for a further sixteen
seasons, until the end of 1905-1906. During 1905-1906, according to the
New York Times, Albert Hackebarth and Max Hess were co-Principal French
horns 52 during the first year of Karl Muck as Music Director.
Then, in 1907-1908, Albert Hackebarth was moved to the seventh (of eight) horn
chairs, where he remained until he retired from the Boston Symphony at the
end of the 1912-1913 season. During the 1890-1910, Albert Hackebarth was
active in chamber music, including with the Kneisel Quartet 103.
Chamber music was a feature of Albert Hackebarth's performance
career, and contemporary reviews credit him with a subtlety and beauty
of tone that melded with the ensemble. In 1913, Albert Hackebarth
retired from the Boston Symphony, age 60.
not Principal, but long-serving horn
Frank (or Franz) J. Hain
Frank Hain was born in Teplitz, Bohemia, today Teplice, Czech
Republic, 60 km NW of Prague in July, 1866. Hain studied horn at the
Prague Conservatory, where he graduated in 1886. He then played horn
with the orchestra in Karlsbad, Bohemia (then, an Austrian heath spa, and
today Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. In the later 1880s, Frank
Hain played horn with the Philharmoniker Hamburg. In the 1891-1892 season,
Hain joined the Boston Symphony horn section under Arthur Nikisch. In
1893, Frank Hain emigrated to the U.S. with his family. Frank Hain was a
horn player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 35 seasons from 1891 until
the end of the 1924-1925 season. Frank Hain died on August 6, 1944.
Max Hess was born in Klingenthal, Germany (100 km south of Leipzig)
in March 1, 1878. Max Hess entered the Leipzig Conservatory
at age 18, from 1896-1899, where he studied under the legendary
Friedrich Gumpert (1841-1906). Gumpert taught at the Conservatory
1864-1898, and was Principal horn of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
51. It is interesting to note that Anton Horner,
Max Pottag, and Max Hess all studied in Leipzig with Gumpert
114. Max Hess was the last surviving Gumpert
student when he died in 1975, outliving his fellow Gumpert student
Anton Horner of the Philadelphia Orchestra
, who had died in 1971. In the 1899-1900 season, Max Hess played
in the Opera at Rostock in northern Germany, where he was the only
horn. In the 1900-1901 season, Hess was Principal horn with the
Oper Köln (Cologne Opera) orchestra. Remaining in Cologne, Max Hess
became Principal horn of the Gürzenich Orchestra where Willy Hess (not
a relative to Max Hess) was Concertmaster 1895-1903. Max Hess
was Principal horn in Cologne for four seasons, 1901-1905. While
in Cologne, Max Hess played the obbligato horn part in the world
premiere of Gustav Mahler Symphony no 5 under the composer in Linz
on October 18, 1904.
In 1905, Max Hess was offered the Principal horn position in both the
Queens Hall Orchestra of London, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Max Hess selected Boston, and joined the Boston Symphony under Karl Muck
as Co-Principal horn sitting next to Hackebarth in the 1905-1906
season. The next season, Hess then moved to the Principal
horn chair, where he remained 1906-1913. In 1913, Max Hess
suffered an injury to his mouth breaking a front tooth. Because
of this, after eight seasons as either Principal or Co-Principal horn,
Hess moved to lower horn chair positions 1913-1925. Max Hess became
a US citizen in 1911. Max Hess played a single horn in F until
1913, when he adopted a Alexander F / B flat double horn (Mainz,
Germany). Max Hess apparently did not have a good relation
with George Wendler 115.  So, in 1925, having his
tooth repaired, Max Hess decided to move to the Cincinnati Symphony as
Principal horn under Fritz Reiner. Max Hess remained in Cincinnati
from 1925-1938, serving under Reiner and Eugene Goossens.
After retiring from Cincinnati in 1938 at age 60, Max Hess returned
to Boston, where he had maintained a home during the Cincinnati
years. In 1969 at age 91, Max Hess returned to the Conservatory
of his youth, the Leipzig Conservatory where he was honored by a
medal. Max Hess died in suburban Boston on January 25, 1975,
just short of his 97th birthday.
George Wendler in 1927, prior to his return to Germany
George Wendler was born in Leobschütz, at that time part of Germany,
now called Glubczyce, Poland July 12, 1883. Georg, or now George
Wendler emigrated to the U.S. in 1909 to become fifth horn of
the Boston Symphony under Max Fiedler. In the 1913-1914 season, Karl
Muck advanced George Wendler to the Principal horn position, where he
remained until the end of the 1921-1922 season. Wendler became a
U.S. citizen in 1916. George Wendler played horn with the Boston
Symphony for 19 seasons, 1909-1928. He was Principal horn for 15
of these seasons, departing at the end of the 1927-1928 season.
George Wendler was an advocate of the new F / B flat 'double horn'.
The design of the double horn, as patented by Fritz and Walter
Kruspe in Germany in 1897, achieved the better performance of the
B flat horn in the higher range with the more mellow sound of the
F horn 50. George Wendler as well as being Principal
horn of the Boston Symphony was a Kruspe son-in-law. He also designed
an improved double horn, the 'Wendler model', still produced today.
From 1921, George Wendler then directed the Ed. Kruspe company of Erfurt,
Germany for many years. The Kruspe company apparently did not suffer
too much during World War 2, but following the partition of Germany, the
Ed. Kruspe factory found itself in East Germany, and their business suffered
from a lack of materials and of markets, and George Wendler himself apparently
suffered financially. George Wendler continued to manage the Ed. Kruspe
company until about 1956, probably also the approximate year of his death.
George Boettcher shows his best mouthpiece to Principal viola
Georges Fourel in early 1930s
George (of Georg) Boettcher was born in Berlin, Germany in
1885. George Boettcher's initial career was in Berlin,
with the Berlin Opera orchestra, and as third horn of the
Berlin Philharmonic 115. After the return
of George Wendler to Germany, Serge Koussevitzky looked
again to Germany, and hired George Boettcher as Principal
horn, beginning in the 1928-1929 season. During his
career in Boston, George Boettcher also taught at the New
England Conservatory. After the end of the 1935-1936
season, George returned to Germany, where he had a new position,
perhaps with a German radio orchestra. George Boettcher
died in Rangsdorf, Germany, 30 km south of Berlin in December,
1936 at the early age of 51 118.
Gottfried von Freiberg was born in Vienna on April 8, 1908.
He studied horn with his uncle, Karl Stiegler Co-Principal French
horn of the Vienna Philharmonic. Freiberg began his orchestral career
Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg at the State Theatre (Badischen Staatstheater).
In the summer of 1928, Gottfried von Freiberg was a horn at the Bayreuth
Festival. In the autumn 1928 season, Freiberg joined the horn section
of the Vienna Philharmonic. At the unexpected death of his uncle Karl,
Gottfried von Freiberg was advanced to Principal horn of the Vienna
Philharmonic in June, 1932. In the 1936-1937 season, because of his
close relationship with Serge Koussevitzky, Gottfried von Freiberg became
Principal horn of the Boston Symphony, succeeding George Boettcher, who then
returned to Germany. However, for Gottfried von Freiberg, the 1936-1937
season did not go well, because Freiberg suffered from embouchure problems,
some resentment from certain horn colleagues, and
also due to a rising anti-German sentiment in
the US. In the 1937-1938 season, Gottfried von Freiberg returned
to the first horn chair of the Vienna Philharmonic. During World War 2,
Freiberg was protected, even though he had a Jewish grandfather.
Gottfried von Freiberg was the horn solo of the world premiere of Richard
Strauss Second Horn Concerto premiered in Salzburg, Austria on August 11,
1943 under Karl Boehm. Gottfried von Freiberg was still
Principal horn of the Vienna Philharmonic at the time of his death in 1962.
Gottfried von Freiberg was Professor of horn at the Hochschule für Musik
1932-1962. A heavy smoker, Freiberg suffered a series of heart attacks.
Gottfried von Freiberg died still in his professional functions in 1962 at the
relatively young age of 54.
1937-1950 (Co-Principal 1945-1950)
Willem Adriaan Valkenier
Willem Valkenier in 1925
Willem Valkenier was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands on February 27, 1887.
As a child, he first played the piano, and then studied the horn with
a clarinetist of a military band. In 1901, when Willem Valkenier was
14, he began study with the horn teacher Adolph Preus, a Czech born hornist
who had settled in Rotterdam 108. This connection with Preus
was important in Willem Valkenier's decision to adopt the double horn, since
Preus had already worked with the horn manufacturer C F Schmidt 107.
The excellent Valkenier profile (uncredited) in the International Horn
Society website 108 describes Valkenier's developing career: '...After two years
studying with Preus, Valkenier started playing in a vaudeville theater orchestra.
In the summer, he played in a Civil Guard symphonic band with Preus
playing first horn, a continuation of his education. His first major
professional job was third horn in a symphony orchestra in Groningen (Netherlands),
then a year as first horn in Haarlem. Wanting a better living than he could
attain in the Netherlands, he found a job as first horn in the Collegium Musicum
in Winterthur, Switzerland. After a year, he saw an advertisement for first
horn in Breslau (Silesia, later part of Poland)...where he...got an excellent
grounding in opera...' 108. In 1914, with the onset of World War
1, Willem Valkenier was able to enter the horn section of the Royal Court Opera,
Berlin ('Königliche Hofoper', renamed 'Staatsoper unter den Linden' after the war).
The IHS profile further describes Willem Valkenier's path: '...In 1923,
Valkenier, a pacifist and still a Dutch citizen, began to see that conditions
in Germany were going to 'go wrong' in response to the Treaty of Versailles
that ended World War I. He was friendly with cellist Pablo Casals and
considered settling in Barcelona, but finally decided to try America.
Valkenier talked with conductors in New York and Chicago, but both had
six-month union waiting periods, so he went to Boston (a non-union orchestra
until December 4, 1942) as first horn of the second horn section...'
108. So, Valkenier
came to the US from Berlin in September, 1923 to join the Boston Symphony as
Principal horn. Willem Valkenier was a member of the Boston Symphony
horn section for thirty seasons from 1923-1953. In the 1937-1938 season,
following the departure of Gottfried von Freiberg, Willem Valkenier was
advanced by Serge Koussevitzky to the Principal horn chair. In 1945-1946,
Valkenier became Co-Principal with Philip Farkas, and from 1947-1950, Willem
Valkenier was Co-Principal horn with James Stagliano. Willem Valkenier retired
from the Boston Symphony in 1950. Willem Valkenier taught for two generations at
the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he was also granted an honorary doctorate
in Music in 1968 87. Valkenier is said to have been an inspired
teacher for his horn students. Unlike the traditional European teaching
style of domination of students by the teaching master, Valkenier is said to have
been gentle and positive, yet demanding. Valkenier played both a Schmidt or Kruspe
double horn 86. Willem Valkenier died April 23, 1986, at the
venerated age of 99.
1945-1946 Philip F. Farkas
(Co-Principal horn with Willem Valkenier)
Philip Farkas born March 5, 1914 in Chicago of parents of Czechoslovak
origin. Farkas described his family as not being not particularly
musical, but he took piano lessons 126. Then, in the school
band, Farkas initially took up the tuba. In a famous Farkas story, one
day, boarding the street car with his large tuba, the conductor complained
that the tuba took up too much space, leading Farkas to change to the horn.
He started horn study at about age 14, and was initially self-taught.
As a student, he was first horn in the Chicago Civic Orchestra,
the training orchestra for the Chicago Symphony. Farkas described his early
horn education: '...One day, while going past Carl Geyer's workshop, I heard some
incredibly beautiful sounds coming out the door. Upon investigating, I found that
it was Louis Dufrasne trying out a new Geyer horn [Louis Victor Dufrasne.
born in Belgium in 1878, was Principal horn of the Chicago Opera Company].
At that exact moment, I determined two things; I would some day own a Geyer
horn and I would have Mr. Dufrasne as my teacher. I started with Mr. Dufrasne
right away, but it took quite a few months before Carl Geyer determined whether
or not I was qualified to own one of his beautiful horns. But in the end, I got
my Geyer horn and played it for about 23 years...'126.
Louis Dufrasne, teacher of Philip Farkas, Helen Kotas and Frank Brouk
Louis Dufrasne was also the teacher of two other CSO Principal
horns: Helen Kotas Hirsh and Frank Brouk. In 1932 at age
18, and still in High School Philip Farkas auditioned and
gained the Principal horn position with the newly-formed
Kansas City Philharmonic. Extraordinary though this was,
Farkas later said humorously that he had thought at the
time '...you studied an instrument for three or four years
and then went out and procured a symphony job...'126.
Farkas remained at the Kansas City Philharmonic
for three years 1933-1936. In the 1936-1937 season,
Philip Farkas became Principal horn of the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra under Frederick Stock, replacing Pellegrino Lecce.
At age 22, Farkas was at the time the youngest member of the
Chicago Symphony. Philip Farkas remained with Chicago as
Principal horn until 1941. Then, invited by Arthur
Rodzinski, Philip Farkas moved to Cleveland, where 1941-1945,
he was Principal horn with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Farkas then had a succession of several key orchestral
posts. First, in Boston, according to some listings,
and according to Farkas 126, he was Co-Principal horn
of the Boston Symphony with Willem Valkenier in the 1945-1946 season
under Serge Koussevitzky. Then, at George Szell's
request (specified in his contract according to Donald Rosenberg),
Philip Farkas returned to Cleveland for the 1946-1947 season during
George Szell's first season as Music Director. The next year
for the 1947-1948 season, Farkas returned to Chicago as Principal
horn, where he remained for 12 seasons, 1947-1960. Then, in
1960, at what would seem the height of his career, Farkas was
offered to teach at Indiana University. Philip Farkas
explained his thinking in accepting this key teaching position:
'...having heard all too many players continue playing beyond
their prime, I had an abhorrence of doing the same and have
always felt that I would rather quit several years too soon
than ten minutes too late...' 126. So, Philip
Farkas departed the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to become
Professor of Music at Indiana University, staying twenty-four
year 1960-1984. During this time, Farkas, an avid
amateur flyer, also taught for sixteen summers at the Aspen
Music Festival in Colorado. Philip Farkas died on
December 21, 1992 in Bloomington, Indiana, location of
Indiana University, his longest serving position.
1947-1971 James Stagliano
(Co-Principal horn with Willem Valkenier 1947-1950)
James Stagliano was born in Italy on January 7, 1912.
His family emigrated to the US in 1920, when he was 8 years
old, perhaps because his uncle Albert J. Stagliano was already
established in Detroit. In Italy, James Stagliano
first learned piano, and studied with his father, a trumpet
player. Unfortunately, Stagliano's father died when
James was young. In Detroit, James Stagliano studied
French horn with his uncle Albert J. Stagliano. Albert
Stagliano in the early 1920s played on the staff orchestra
of the pioneering Detroit radio station WWJ. Albert Stagliano
was later Principal horn of the Detroit Symphony 1929-1936
127, Principal horn of the Cleveland Orchestra
1936-1937, horn with Toscanini's NBC Symphony 1937-late
1940s. Uncle Albert continued to aid James Stagliano
who in 1928, at age only 16, was an extra of the Detroit
Symphony. In the 1930-1931 season, James Stagliano
joined the Detroit Symphony as Assistant Principal horn
on the first stand, next to his uncle Albert.
James Stagliano and his Wagnerian soprano wife 163
Inez Gorman then moved to St. Louis where James was appointed
St. Louis Symphony Principal horn in about 1934-1936 under
Vladimir Golschmann. In the 1936-1937 season, James
Stagliano moved to California to play under Otto Klemperer
in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. James
Stagliano remained in Los Angeles until 1944. He
was also a session musician in the the Hollywood studios,
particularly at Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Brothers
including Gone With the Wind.
James Stagliano moved from Los Angeles to play in the
Cleveland Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf's brief tenure in
1944. In 1946, following the departure of Philip Farkas,
James Stagliano was selected by Koussevitzky to become
Co-Principal horn with Willem Valkenier, beginning in the
1946-1947 season. Willem Valkenier was listed first,
with James Stagliano, second, so presumably Stagliano usually
sat in the second chair, next to his stand partner Valkenier.
This Co-Principal arrangement continued under Charles
Munich until Valkenier's retirement at the end of the 1949-1950
season. James Stagliano was Principal or Co-Principal
horn in Boston for twenty-seven seasons, 1946-1973.
While in Boston, James Stagliano helped found Boston
Records for which he and Boston Symphony colleagues recorded a
number of innovative works (such as Britten's Serenade for Tenor,
Horn and Strings). With Sarah Caldwell, Stagliano was
active with the Opera Company of Boston. Stagliano is
said to have used, primarily, a double horn from Gebr. Alexander
(Mainz, Germany). Horn colleagues also remarked that "Jimmy"
Stagliano used his Assistant horn, Charles Yancich often to reduce
his orchestral load, which gave Yancich added exposure 127.
James Stagliano was not particularly active as a teacher, but his
relaxed style and effective playing of high registers of the horn
influenced many other players. He also had an active sense of
humor, and had a reputation as something of a bon vivant,
which many appreciated. Milan Yancich tells the story
127 of "Jimmy" Stagliano undergoing a
triple coronary bypass operation. Just before anesthesia,
the surgeon informed Stagliano that, although this is a very
intensive and difficult procedure, that he had done it many times,
and not to worry. Stagliano replied: "...Doctor, until
you have to play Oberon, you don't know what worry
means...". James Stagliano died in Boynton Beach
(near Boca Raton), Florida on April 11, 1987.
Charles Yancich was born in Whiting, Indiana on the fourth of July, 1924.
Charles and his older brother, Milan Yancich (1921-2007) both studied horn throughout
their teenage years. Charles and Milan studied with Philip Farkas in Chicago,
but Charles soon switched to studying with James Stagliano in Boston during
summers127. This was while Charles Yancich was studying at the
University of Michigan. In 1954, Charles Yancich auditioned with the Boston
Symphony, and he and his brother Milan were the finalists for the position
127. Charles Yancich was the winner and assumed his Assistant
Principal horn position in the 1954-1955 season, under Charles Munch.
Charles Yancich served in the Boston Symphony for twenty-nine seasons,
1954-1983. In the 1971-1972 season, following the retirement of James
Stagliano, Charles Yancich was acting Principal horn for that season.
With the appointment of Charles Kavalovski as Principal horn, Charles Yancich
returned to the Associate Principal chair until the 1979-1980 season, and then
to the last horn chair until his retirement at the end of the
Charles Kavalovski was born in Minnesota on February 12, 1936. In
Minnesota, Charles Kavalovski studied the horn with Paul Binstock and
Robert Elworthy, both of the Minneapolis Symphony (after 1968, the Minnesota
Orchestra). Charles 'Chuck' Kavalovski also holds a Ph.D. in nuclear
physics from the University of Minnesota, and led a successful physics teaching
career. As a university teacher, his career reached Professor,
achieving tenure at age 35. Deciding to pursue this
musical career Kavalovski auditioned with several orchestras, including
the Boston Symphony. He played for one season with the Denver Symphony
in 1971-1972, before being invited to join the Boston Symphony in 1972.
Charles Kavalovski has also been active in chamber music.  He has has said
in interviews that playing in the Boston Symphony Chamber Players has been a
great source of personal satisfaction. Kavalovski took sabbatical leave
from the BSO in 1992-1993, apparently in part due to an injury. Kavalovski
returned with critics rating his playing better than ever, particularly in difficult
high, soaring passages, and equally difficult softer passages. His tone and
phrasing have often been remarked by critics. Charles Kavalovski has taught
at both Boston University and the New England Conservatory. As well as being
active at MIT, Kavalovski was adjunct Professor of Physics at Boston University.
James Sommerville in December, 2008 with James Levine and
100 birthday Elliot Carter at the premier of Carter's Horn
James Sommerville was born in Toronto, Canada in 1962. In his
High School years, James ('Jamie') Sommerville studied the horn. He
went on to the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario), and also
studied also with Eugene Rittich, Principal horn
of the Toronto Symphony. James Sommerville then entered the music program at
the University of Toronto. 1983-1985, he became Principal horn with the
Symphony Nova Scotia in Halifax. James Sommerville was then Principal horn
with the Canadian Opera Company (Toronto) in 1985-1986, and
Associate Principal horn in the Montreal Symphony under Charles Dutoit.
Sommerville was with the Montreal Symphony for eleven seasons 1986-1998.
In January, 1998, Sommerville was appointed Principal horn of the Boston Symphony
under Seiji Ozawa. Sommerville is reported to play a Yamaha 861 and a
Paxman triple horn. More recently, Sommerville has expanded his musical
activities into conducting. In 2007, as a conductor, James Sommerville was
appointed Artistic Director of the Hamilton (Ontario) Philharmonic Orchestra
99. It was further announced that James Sommerville will conduct
the Edmonton Symphony (Alberta) in 2011, and the Québec Symphony in 2012. It
therefore seems likely that James Sommerville's busy career may become yet more
busy in the next decade.
Quick Navigation: Click Below to Jump to Desired Location
standing: William Carl Gebhardt (horn), Henry E. Lorbeer (horn), Max Hess (horn),
Frank J. Hain (horn), LeRoy S. Kenfield (bass trombone), August Mausebach (trombone),
Gustav Perret (cornet)
seated: Eugene Adam (tuba), Joseph F. Mann (trumpet), Frank Wendler (Principal horn),
George Mager (Principal trumpet), Carl Hampe (Principal trombone), Louis (Ludwig) Kloepfel
(trumpet), Cornelis van den Berg (horn)
Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal Trumpets
1881-1886 Ezra Mahon Bagley
Ezra M. Bagley was born January 3, 1853 in Albany, Vermont. He studied
cornet in Boston with L. S. Batchelder. Ezra Bagley was brother of the
march composer Edwin Eugene Bagley (1857-1922), composer of the National Emblem
Edwin Eugene Bagley
In 1869, E. M. Bagley played solo cornet with the Boston Common Band
in the Germania Orchestra of Boston, and was active in the David C. Hall 'New
Concert And Quadrille Band'. 90. Ezra Bagley was
cornet in bands in the 1870s; the South Windham (Massachusetts) Band
and in 1878, the Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore Band, where Bagley replaced
the first cornetist Benjamin C. Bent (1848-1897) during their European
tour. Emulating his brother, E. M. Bagley also composed
several popular marches, including the Independence March.
E. M. Bagley joined the Boston Symphony during its initial five seasons
as Principal trumpet, 1881-1886.  Ezra Bagley died at an early age
on a European tour he had organized for the summer of 1886 in Liverpool,
England on July 8 1886, age only 33 91. The Boston Globe
account of his passing recounted: '...Mr. Bagley arrived in that city a week
ago. He was suffering from nervous prostration when he left America. He went
to a hospital immediately after his arrival in Liverpool and remained there
up to the time of his death...' 91
Richard Shuebruk was born in Bristol, England August 23, 1854.
Shuebruk came to the U.S. in 1876. Richard Shuebruk joined
the Boston Symphony trumpet section in the 1885-1886 season,
and became Principal trumpet, the next season for one year.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Shuebruk was a music teacher in New York
City. Shuebruk also played in the Frederick Neil Innes
(1854-1926) Band. As a teacher, he was known
for the advice: 'Don't blow harder for the high notes; Pinch tighter'.
Edward Lafricain (or Edouard L'Africain) was born in Montreal,
Canada in December 2, 1852. His family relocated to the
U.S. in 1866. Lafricain was a long-time trumpet player of
the Boston Symphony, first from 1887-1893, then in the 1896-1897
season, and finally 1900-1902, a total of nine seasons. During
this period, Edward Lafricain was Principal trumpet of the Boston
Symphony for one season, 1887-1888. Between the 1896-1897
and 1900-1902 seasons with the Boston Symphony, Edward Lafricain
was Principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic 1898-1899,
succeeded at the Philharmonic by
. During World War 1,
Edward Lafricain was a bandmaster of the Malden 101st Regiment in
the US Army expeditionary force in France. He was said to
have been to oldest bandmaster on active Army service (he would have
been 65 at the time). Edward Lafricain died in Malden,
Massachusetts on May 15, 1921.
Pierre Mueller (Jean Baptiste Pierre Müller) was born in Luxembourg
on March 18, 1846. Mueller emigrated to the U.S. in 1888 to join
the Boston Symphony under Wilhelm Gericke. Mueller was a trumpet
player in the Boston Symphony for twelve
seasons 1888-1900. He was Principal trumpet during most of that
time, from 1888-1898 under Gericke, Nikisch, and Paur.
Louis F. (sometimes Ludwig) Kloepfel (or Klöpfel) was born in March 1867 in
the Thuringia area (State) of Germany 92. He studied in Berlin
and Leipzig wiht Langhof and Christian Ferdinand Weinschenk 92.
In Leipzig, Louis (or Ludwig) Kloepfel was Principal trumpet of in the Leipzig
Gewandhaus Orchestra 92. Louis Kloepfel came to the U.S. in 1889
to New York. Kloepfel joined the New York Symphony as Principal trumpet
1891-1898 for eight seasons, under Walter Damrosch. While in New York,
Kloepfel was apparently also First trumpet of the National Symphony Orchestra
in the 1895-1896 season 92. Louis Kloepfel then moved to the
Boston Symphony during the first season of the
direction of Artur Nikisch, as Principal trumpet in the 1898-1899 season.
Kloepfel was a long-term trumpet player for the Boston Symphony, serving for
29 seasons, 1898-1927. During 16 of these seasons, 1898-1914,
Kloepfel was Principal trumpet. Like Gustav Heim, Kloepfel was a Bb
trumpet player, unlike the later C trumpet which gradually took over in
orchestras during the later Twentieth Century. Kloepfel was also
during the 1910s, the conductor of the Boston Ladies Brass Octet.
Louis Kloepfel taught many trumpet students, both privately and at the
New England Conservatory. Among these was William Vacchiano,
later Principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic.
Kloepfel also designed his model of the orchestral trumpet
with the manufacturer C.G. Conn of Indiana. Louis Kloepfel died
in Needham (suburban Boston) Massachusetts on October 10, 1936.
Gustav Heim was born in Schleusingen, Thüringen, Germany, 150 km East of
Frankfurt on May 8, 1879. Heim studied trumpet first under his
father, and then at the local music school in Schleusingen from
1893-1897. In 1897, Heim was cornet solo of the military band based
in Thüringen. Heim emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 to St. Louis.
During his career, Heim was first trumpet for an amazing number of
leading U.S. orchestras. Heim started in 1904 with the orchestra of
the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the 1904 St. Louis
World Fair). In St. Louis, Fritz Scheel, conductor of the
Philadelphia Orchestra heard Gustav Heim play. As a result, in the
1905-1906 season, Heim became Principal trumpet of the Philadelphia
Orchestra, while his predecessor, Herman Basse returned to the
Metropolitan Opera. Gustav Heim stayed in Philadelphia for one
season. Then, in the 1906-1907 season, Heim moved to the Boston
Symphony Orchestra as third trumpet. In the 1914-1915 season, under
Karl Muck, Heim became Principal Trumpet until 1920. In the 1920
disastrous Boston Symphony musician’s strike, Heim was, along with
the Concertmaster Fredric Fradkin, one of the two Orchestra Principals
who left the Boston Symphony as a result of the strike. Heim
departed for the Detroit Symphony, where he was Principal trumpet 1920-1921.
then took over Heim’s first chair trumpet position with
the Boston Symphony. After moving to Detroit for
one season, Gustav Heim then moved to New York, where he was Principal
trumpet with the Philharmonic Society for two seasons 1921-1923
under Josef Stransky. Continuing his movements
from orchestra to orchestra, in the
1923-1924 season, Heim moved to the Cleveland Orchestra under Nikolai
Sokoloff (1886-1965). Then, Gustav Heim moved back to New York to
join the New York Symphony from 1925-1928 under Walter Damrosch (who
had also conducted Heim at the 1904 St. Louis Fair). After the
merger of the New York Symphony with the New York Philharmonic
Society in 1928, Harry Glantz was selected to continue as Principal
trumpet of the merged orchestra. Glantz had previously studied
with Heim. Gustav Heim then joined the American Symphonic Ensemble in
New York which was an orchestra without a conductor for the 1929-1930
season. He was also a regular at the long-lived Worcester Music
Festival (Massachusetts) in the summers from 1910-1914, 1916, and
1925 to 1932. Gustav Heim also taught in New York City, and among
his famous students were William Vacchiano.
During most of his career, Gustav Heim played a was a Bb trumpet.
Gustav Heim died relatively young on October 30, 1933 in
New York City after a sudden illness, aged only 54.
Georges Mager was born in Tourcoing, France, just North of Lille, on
the Belgian boarder on November 7, 1884. His father was the bandmaster
of the Tourcoing town band 176. At his father's request,
Mager initially played French horn. He also studied violin, including
winning a violin medal at the Ecoles Academique de Tourcoing, where he also
studied solfège 176. After this training, Georges Mager
gained admission to the Paris Conservatoire in 1901. He studied trumpet
and cornet with Jean-Joseph Mellet (1880-1920), who was in turn a student of
the historic trumpet teacher Jean-Baptiste Arban (1825-1889). At the
Conservatoire, Georges Mager won Second prix in 1905 and Premier prix in the
1906 Concour. After graduation, Georges Mager was Principal trumpet at
the Concerts Touche in Paris. Georges Mager was also a tenor,
and with his soprano wife Claire, was said by the family to have sung at
l'Opéra Comique in Paris 78. During the 1910s, Mager played
with the Paris Opera Orchestra, the Concerts Lamoureux, and the
l'Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.
After World War 1, Georges Mager was part of a U.S. good-will tour of the
Garde républicaine band. With the Band, Mager was flugelhorn soloist
(a sort of wide bore trumpet). Three musicians from the Garde
républicaine band were hired into the Boston Symphony by Henri Rabaud for the
Louis Speyer English horn,
Georges Laurent flute, and
Georges Mager trumpet. However, since there
was not a trumpet chair open, for this first season, Mager was hired
as a violist (!) 77.
Interestingly, Mager shared a viola stand with with Arthur Fiedler
in this 1918-1919 season. The next season, 1919-1920 under Pierre Monteux,
Georges Mager was then moved to the third trumpet chair, sitting behind
Gustav Heim and Joseph F. Mann. After the disastrous 1920
musician's strike, Gustav Heim left for the Detroit Symphony. Heim
was, along with Concertmaster Freddy Fradkin the only Principal musicians
to leave following the strike. The next season, Georges Mager became
Principal trumpet in 1920-1921, where he stayed until shortly before his death
until the conclusion of the 1949-1950 season. This service was for a total
of 50 seasons as Principal trumpet, and 52 seasons with the Orchestra.
Georges Mager had retired after he suffered a stroke just prior to the
Summer, 1950 Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood. Weeks later,
Georges Mager fell and broke his hip 78. Georges Mager
subsequently died on his farm in Housatonic, Massachusetts on
September 20, 1950 77,
just weeks after the end of the Boston Symphony 1949-1950
season. Georges Mager was an important teacher,
including at the New England Conservatory. Among his trumpet
students were Adolph Herseth (later Principal trumpet of the Chicago
Symphony), Roger Voisin (Mager's successor), and Bernard Adelstein
(later Principal trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra). Mager was
one of the early advocates of the C trumpet for the orchestra, with
its slightly more brilliant tone. His two predecessors,
Louis Kloepfel and Gustav Heim both preferred the B b trumpet.
(note: a brief newspaper account of Georges Mager:
'February 29, 1944. Georges Mager, first trumpet of the
Boston Symphony, and his wife were heart-broken when their pet
canary died. So they decided to have it stuffed and
keep it in its cage. Consulting the directory, they
found the nearest taxidermist was 'S. W. Gerhardt', Jamaica
Plain. Going there, Mager was astonished to find
that the taxidermist was
, his viola colleague in the Orchestra but whose avocation
is stuffing things such as canaries.'
Roger Voisin was born June 26, 1918 in Angers, France. Roger Voisin emigrated
to the U.S. with his family to the U.S. in 1928 at the age of eleven so that his father,
René Louis Gabriel Voisin (1893-1952), could accept a position as fourth trumpet with
the Boston Symphony. René Voisin had met Serge Koussevitzky in Paris at the
l'Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.
René Voisin was a member of the Boston Symphony from 1928-1952, during which he played
with his gifted son, Roger Voisin for seventeen seasons. After moving to the U.S.,
Roger Voisin studied with BSO trumpet players
Marcel Lafosse and
He also studied solfège with long-term and long-lived Boston
Symphony string bass (with the BSO from 1927-1957)
Roger Voisin caught the attention of Arthur Fiedler who
in 1935, recommended to Koussevitzky that Roger Voisin be hired into the
Boston Symphony trumpet section. Following audition, Roger Voisin
was, at age 17, the youngest musician admitted to the Boston Symphony
Orchestra (at least, so far). In the 1947-1948, Georges Voisin was
named Co-Principal trumpet with Georges Mager, and with his father, René Voisin
in the last trumpet chair. In the 1950-1951 season, Voisin succeeded
the mortally ill Georges Mager as Principal trumpet. Then, in the 1966-1967
season, Roger Voisin took the second trumpet chair, sitting next to the new
Principal trumpet, Armando Ghitalla. During his career, Roger Voisin served
for 39 seasons in the BSO, retiring in 1973. Roger Voisin was either
Principal or Co-Principal trumpet for 23 of these seasons, 1947-1966.
In addition to his work with the Boston Symphony, Roger Voisin is
remembered as a leading teacher, first at the New England Conservatory
1950-1969 and then at Boston University 1970-1999, a total of nearly
50 years. Voisin died February 13, 2008 in suburban Boston.
Armando Ghitalla was born June 1, 1925 in Alpha, Illinois a small
town 100 miles west of Chicago.
He grew up on a small farm with his parents Jack (or Giacomo)
and Tressa who had emigrated from Italy. In 1942, he entered
the Illinois Wesleyan University, working part time jobs. He was in
the Navy during World War 2, and then applied to Juilliard.
Ghitalla studied at the Juilliard School beginning 1946 where he
graduated in 1949 in only 3 years taking extra credits. While
still at Juilliard in 1948, Ghitalla performed in the New York City Center
Opera and Ballet in the 1948-1949 season. After auditioning with Efrem
Kurtz, Armando Ghitalla then moved to the Houston Symphony Orchestra for two
seasons 1949-1951. In the 1951-1952 season, Armando Ghitalla joined the
Boston Symphony, where he served twenty-eight years in the trumpet section.
His first 13 seasons, 1951-1964, Ghitalla was initially third trumpet and then
Associate Principal trumpet. In the 1966-1967 season under Erich
Leinsdorf, Armando Ghitalla became Principal trumpet. Ghitalla
remained in the first chair for 13 more seasons, 1966-1979.
Following his departure from the Boston Symphony, Armando Ghitalla
taught at the University of Michigan in Anne Arbor from 1979-1995.
Armando Ghitalla died December 14, 2001 in Houston, Texas, where he
was teaching at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.
BSO trumpets in 1977: (l to r) Armando Ghitalla, André Côme, Rolf Smedvig, Gerard Goguen
1979-1981 Rolf T. Smedvig
Rolf Smedvig and the Empire Brass Quintet: Marc Brian Reese, trumpet, Kenneth Amis, tuba,
Michelle Perry, horn, Rolf Smedvig trumpet, Mark Hetzler, trombone
Rolf Smedvig was born in Seattle, Washington on September 23, 1952.
Rolf Smedvig made his solo debut with the Seattle Symphony.
Smedvig studied at Boston University with Armando Ghitalla, Raphael
Mendez, and Maurice Andre. He also studied at the Tanglewood
Music Center in the summer of 1971. There, he met Leonard Bernstein,
by whom he was invited to perform as a soloist in the 1971 world premiere
the Bernstein Mass, which opened the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Then, in the 1971-1972 season, at age of nineteen Rolf Smedvig was
appointed Assistant Principal Trumpet of the Boston Symphony by Seiji
Ozawa, the youngest member of the BSO at that time. Smedvig was
in the second trumpet chair for eight seasons. Following the departure
of Smedvig's teacher Armando Ghitalla, Seiji Ozawa elevated Rolf Smedvig
to the Principal trumpet chair in the 1979-1980 season.
After two seasons as Principal trumpet, Rolf Smedvig left the
Boston Symphony to pursue a solo career. His success in this solo
career was demonstrated as a founding member and first trumpet of the
Empire Brass Quintet. Rolf Smedvig has also performed as a conductor
with the Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Symphony, being Music Director for
ten seasons 1982-1992, the Honolulu Symphony, the (sadly missed)
Northwest Chamber Orchestra (Seattle), the Tohnhalle Orchestra (Zurich),
and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra (Caracas).
Charles Schlueter, left with Assistant Principal trumpet Peter Chapman
Charles Schlueter was born in Du Quoin, Illinois on April 20, 1939. In high school
Schlueter studied in St. Louis, Missouri with Edward Brauer, trumpet of the local NBC
radio orchestra. Admitted to Juilliard, where he graduated in 1962, Charles Schlueter
studied with William Vacchiano 102, with whom Armando Ghitalla also had studied.
William Vacchiano became both Charles Schlueter's teacher and his friend.
Following graduation, Charles Schlueter was Principal trumpet with the Kansas City
Philharmonic for two seasons 1962-1964 under long-time conductor Hans Schweiger (1907-2000).
Charles Schlueter then was appointed Principal trumpet of the Milwaukee Symphony
Orchestra for three seasons, 1964-1967 under conductor Harry John Brown (1924-2000) who
had lead the transition of the Milwaukee Symphony from part-time orchestra to a
professional group 114. Charles Schlueter then moved to Cleveland as Principal
trumpet of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell in the 1967-1968 season. Schlueter
remained in Cleveland through the death of George Szell and the direction of Pierre Boulez,
departing after five seasons at the end of 1971-1972. Schlueter then returned to Minnesota
as Principal trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra 1972-1981 under Music Director Stanislaw
Skrowaczewski and after 1979, Neville Marriner. Charles Schlueter was appointed Principal
trumpet of the Boston Symphony by Seiji Ozawa in 1981. Charles Schlueter retained the
first trumpet chair in Boston for twenty-five seasons, 1981-2006. (Note that Charles
Schlueter during this period was the subject of perhaps the only recent book giving a view into
the ongoing career of an orchestral trumpet: In Concert, On Stage and Offstage with the Boston
Symphony Orchestra, by Carl A. Vigeland 117. In this account, Charles
Schlueter receives extensive and favorable coverage, but with somewhat more negative depictions
of Seiji Ozawa, and Boston critic Richard Dyer, and what seems a mixed view of certain other BSO
leading musicians. Criticism in Boston has often been described as a 'contact sport').
Charles Schlueter continues to teach at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. His
students comprise an impressive list, including: Andrew Balio, Principal trumpet of the
Baltimore Symphony, Roderick Macdonald former Principal trumpet of the Leipzig Gewandhaus
Orchestra, and David Bamonte, Principal trumpet of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.
Thomas Rolfs was born in Minnesota on August 12, 1958. He studied music at the
University of Minnesota and went on to gain his Master of Music degree from
Northwestern University in Chicago. In the summer of 1978, Rolfs studied at
the Tanglewood Music Center, the beginning of his Boston connection 101.
Returning to Minnesota, during five seasons, 1986-1991, Thomas Rolfs was trumpet
with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, working with Pinchas Zukerman, and later
with the triumvirate of Christopher Hogwood, Hugh Wolff, and John Adams who formed
the 'Artistic Commission' of Saint Paul at that period. Then, in the next season,
Thomas Rolfs joined the Boston Symphony in 1991-1992 as fourth chair in the Boston
Trumpet section. Rolfs was subsequently advanced to Assistant Principal trumpet, before
being advanced to Principal Trumpet in the 2006-2007 season. The Boston Symphony
trumpet section rich tradition continues in good hands.
Quick Navigation: Click Below to Jump to Desired Location
either Alfred Rigg or
David H. Moore, the two trombones of the first
BSO season in this 1882 photo collage
(only one of them was included in the collage)
Alfred Rigg was born in Québec in 1845 where his British Army father
Sergeant Alexander Rigg was then stationed. Alfred Rigg's
early musical education was likely with his father who was
a British Army Band musician. Alfred Rigg relocated
with his family back to England where he married his wife
Georgette in 1866. They emigrated to Boston in 1870.
With the formation of the Boston Symphony, Alfred Rigg
was Principal trombone 1881-1886, and then trombone
(most likely was Bass trombone) 1891-1897. He also
played at the Globe Theater orchestra - Boston, and the
Naval Batallian Band in 1891. Rigg also played euphonium
in the Boston Globe band 1894 160. In 1877
until at least 1894, the he played in the Boston Cadet Band led
John C. Mullaly161, and during most
of its history by J. Thomas Baldwin. Rigg also played with
the Thomas Baldwin Band of Boston - Baldwin's Band.
Alfred Rigg taught trombone, euphonium, and baritone at the
New England Conservatory 1881-1888. Alfred Rigg died in
Boston in 1897 age only 52 survived for 30 years by his wife
1910s and 1920s LeRoy Kenfield, Fredrick Mausebach, Carl Hampe
LeRoy Kenfield, Fredrick Mausebach, Carl Hampe in 1910
LeRoy S. Kenfield was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 17, 1866.
He learned to play the trombone at the Thompson Island School
(for indigent boys). This school made a practice of training
its poor or orphaned boys in instruments so as to provide them with
a means of future income. This school became famous also for
producing some of the best brass musicians from their instrumental
program. Among other Thompson Island graduates
was another Boston Symphony trombone
David H. Moore. In later years,
LeRoy Kenfield donated money and instruction to the Thompson Island
School. Kenfield was one of the longest-serving Boston Symphony
trombones, Principal trombone for thirty-five seasons.
LeRoy Kenfield died on October 5, 1934, less than 4 months
after the end of the Boston Pops season, when Kenfield
would have retired from the great Boston Symphony.
Toby Oft was born in the Portland, Oregon area on February 16, 1976.
His was a musical family, and he began playing trombone, guided
by his trombonist father Michael Oft (1946- ), at the age of 6.
Toby Oft studied at the Indiana University School of Music (as it was
then known), where he earned his BMus. This was followed by
Northwestern University (Illinois) MMus. While in the Chicago area
at University, Toby Oft was also an active freelance musician.
His first professional orchestral job was as Principal trombone of the
Florida West Coast Symphony (Sarasota) in September 2002.
Oft was then Principal trombone of the Buffalo Philharmonic during
about 2004-2006. Then, Toby Oft was named Principal trombone of
the San Diego Symphony Orchestra 2006-2008. In 2008, Toby Oft won
the very competitive auditions for the Boston Symphony Principal trombone
chair. In Boston, Oft was one of the founders of the
Boston Symphony Brass Quintet:
Thomas Rolfs trumpet,
James Sommerville horn,
Mike Roylance tuba,
Thomas Siders second trumpet,
Toby Oft trombone.
Only the 12th Principal trombone of the Boston Symphony
since its creation in 1881, Toby Oft continues the rich tradition
of excellence of the BSO "Low Brass".
Attention ! Drum roll please... A section on the great BSO
percussion musicians, including timpani will be added here soon.
Shown below: (l to r) Lee Vinson, Dan Bauch, Frank Epstein, Will Hudgins,
percussion with Timothy Genis, timpani, the current BSO greats.
Boston Symphony Orchestra Principal Timpani
1952-2001 Everett J. Firth
Roman Szulc, left, Principal timpani for 21 seasons passing the mallets to his successor as
Principal timpani: Vic Firth in summer, 1956
Everett J. "Vic" Firth was born in Winchester, Massachusetts (in
suburban Boston) on June 2, 1930. Growing up in Maine, he studied first with his
trumpet-playing musician father Everett E. Firth, who was also a music
teacher in the Sanford, Maine school system. A few years later, Firth
took up percussion, as well as playing the trombone, clarinet and piano.
By age 16 in High School, he had formed a band in which he played a variety of
percussion instruments. Vic Firth then studied at the New England Conservatory,
including with his predecessor as
Principal timpani, Roman Szulc. Everett Firth graduated in the Class of 1952,
and immediately entered the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch as Assistant timpani.
Vic Firth succeeded his teacher Roman Szulc as Principal timpani of the Boston Symphony
in the summer of 1956. Vic Firth served as Principal timpani in Boston for a
further 45 seasons, retiring at the end of the 200-2001 season after 49 years of service.
He was also an active teacher at his alma mater the New England Conservatory.
He is the founder of Vic Firth Inc. having about 150 employees and said to be the world's
largest manufacturer of drum sticks, and suppler of other percussion products
Timothy Genis was born in California in 1966. As a student, he played in
the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Interestingly, as a student
timothy Genis was a member of the San Francisco Boys’ Chorus and participated
in the performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony that opened Davies Hall in
1981 under Edo de Waart. Timothy Genis was also a Fellow at the
Tanglewood Institute. Then Genis studied at the
Eastman School of Music, and while there also played in the Rochester
Philharmonic. The then played in the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Studying at the Juilliard School, he also played with the Radio City Music
Hall Orchestra. Timothy Genis then went to the Honolulu Symphony
1991-1993. Then in May, 1993, Timothy Genis won the audition to
become enter the percussion section of the Boston Symphony. He was
first Assistant timpani May 1993-2004, and then advanced to Principal
Timothy Genis is married to Boston Symphony
Assistant Principal viola of
Cathy Basrak and brother-in-law of
Karen Baskak, cellist with the Chicago Symphony.
Sources of Information on the Principal Musicians of the Boston
One of the excellent early books on the
Boston Symphony Orchestra is The Boston Symphony Orchestra
by Mark Antony De Wolfe Howe (see details below). This book, published in 1914,
covers the first thirty years of the Boston Symphony, with a listing of the musicians
(although not indicating who was Principal or solo) and their years of
service. This book was later updated by John N. Burk in 1931. This is an excellent
source for the early years of the BSO. Another major source are the many books written
about the BSO, including by musicians, which are listed in the
Bibliography, Sources and Credits
section, elsewhere in this stokowski.org site. Also, Bridget
Carr and the Archives of the Boston Symphony have been most helpful with
their knowledge and scholarship. Also of great help has been
Brian Bell for providing key information for this site,
including the source material The Orchestra Book, Third Edition,
"Know Your Orchestra" 1983-1984 from the Boston
Symphony. Also "Music Makers: BSO Profiles"
1991 from the Boston Symphony. This, plus Brian Bell's extensive
knowledge and insight of the Boston Symphony, its history and its
musicians has been invaluable. I recommend a visit Brian Bell's
fascinating interviews and articles, such as his profile of (Sir)
Georg Henschel, first conductor of the Boston Symphony at:
Equally valuable have been the numerous
emails from current and former Boston Symphony musicians who have been
most generous with information and photographs.
However, I should emphasize that any errors or omissions in the contents
of what is presented on this site are only our fault, and not due to anyone
else. So, if you have corrections
or additions, I request that you
email me at the address given below
If you have any comments or questions about this
Leopold Stokowski site, please e-mail me (Larry
Huffman) at e-mail address:
Weston, Pamela. Clarinet Virtuosi of the Past. Egom
Publishers, Ltd. London. 1989. ISBN 0-70912-4422
page 7. The New York Times. New York. October 20,
page 25. The New York Times. New York, New York. September 27, 1903.
page 17. The New York Times. New York, New York. January 14, 1890.
page 158. Mannes, David. Music is my Faith - An Autobiography
Norton. New York, New York. Reprinted 1978. ISBN 0-306-77595-6
page 163-187. Burke, John N. Wilhelm Gericke, A
Centennial Retrospect. The Musical Quarterly 1945 volume XXXI.
Oxford University Press. 1945.
45 page 103.
Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe The Boston Symphony Orchestra.
46 page 312. de La Grange, Henry-Louis.
Gustav Mahler: Vienna : Triumph and Disillusion (1904-1907).
Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK. 1999.
ISBN 019315160X, 9780193151604
47 page 13. New York Times. New York, New York.
September 5, 1898.
48 page 144.
Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe The Boston Symphony Orchestra.
49 page 7, June 5, 1908 and page 9, November 23, 1908.
New York Times.
50 Ericson, John. The Double Horn and Its Invention
in 1897. The Horn Call. Volume 28 number 2. The
International Horn Society. February, 1998.
Erickson, John Friedrich. Gumpert and the Performing
Technique of the Valved Horn in Later 19th Century Germany.
Brass Scholarship in Review, edited by Stewart Carter.
Historic Brass Society, Cité de la musique. Paris, France.
52 page 10 of
Magazine section. The New York Times. September 17, 1905.
53 pp 133. Lebrecht, Norman The Maestro Myth. Citadel Press, New Jersey Publishing
Group. 2001. ISBN 0-8065-2088-4
54 page 196. Rosenberg, Donald.
The Cleveland Orchestra Story. "Second to None".
Gray & Company. Cleveland. 2000. ISBN 1-886228-24-8.
55 page 201. Rosenberg, Donald. op.
56 page 155. Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe
The Boston Symphony Orchestra.
55 Page 141. Howe, Mark Antony De Wolfe revised by Burk, John
N. The Boston Symphony Orchestra. 1881-1931. Houghton Mifflin
56 Rust, Brian and Brooks, Tim. The Columbia
Master Book Discography. Volume II Greenwood Press. 1999. ISBN
108 uncredited biographical article Willem A. Valkenier
(1887-1986). IHS Online. The International Horn Society.
109 page 10. Edgers, Geoff. Seiji Ozawa withdraws from
Tanglewood concerts. Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts.
April 13, 2010.
110 page 2. Deaths: Allard.
Fitchburg Sentinel And Enterprise. Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
July 26, 1976.
111 page 11. Dyer, Richard. The BSO Appoints
a New Principal Flutist, National Symphony's Elizabeth Rowe will Repalce Jacques
Zoon. Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts.
February 14, 2004.
112 pages 27-28. Up, Up and Away on My Beautiful
Bassoon. Nebraska Magazine. Winter. 2007.
113 Hattner, David. Liner NotesThe Clarinetist Composer
. Northbranch Records, LLC. North Branch, New Jersey.
114 Chute, James and Thomas Heinen, Thomas. Milwaukee
Symphony Orchestra 25th Anniversary, A Series of Articles from the Milwaukee
Journal. Milwaukee Journal, 1984 Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1984.
115Boston Symphony Horns.
The Horn Call International Horn Society. 1993.
116 Snyder, Louis. Boston Symphony
and Its World of Players. Beacon Press.
Boston, Massachusetts. 1979. ISBN 0-8070-665-8.
117 Vigeland, Carl A. In Concert: Onstage and Offstage
with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. William Morrow & Co. 1989.
re-published iUniverse, Inc. 2003. ISBN-13: 0-595-28430-2.
118 page 42. Prof. Boettcher Dies in Germany.
Lowell Sun Lowell, Massachusetts. January 9, 1937.
119 From Sherman Friedland's very interesting website, Sherman Friedland’s Clarinet
120 page 227. Fitzgibbon, Henry Macauley.
The Story of the Flute. Charles Scribner's Sons.
New York, New York. 1914.
121 Humphrey, George Norwood Becoming a Musician.
Xlibris Corporation. Bloomington, Indiana. ISBN 978-1-4257-2074-5.
122 page 12. Peter Sadony Dead.
Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts. September 20, 1916.
123 pages 49-50. Jaenicke, Bruno (Harold Meek, editor).
originally written by Bruno Jaenicke in The Horn Call Volume 2 no 1, November 1971
God, in His wrath, Created the Horn.
reprinted in The Horn Call. The International Horn Society.
Volume 30 no 4, August 2000.
124 pages 87-88, 151. Franko, Sam. Chords and
Discords; Memoires and Musings of an American Musician. Viking
Press. New York, New York. 1938.
125 Eichler, Jeremy. James Levine Reclaims BSO Podium
in all-Wagner Season Opener. Boston Globe Boston,
Massachusetts. October 4, 2010.
126 page 60-68. Cowan, Tom. Profile Interview with
Philip Farkas. The Horn Call. Volume 7 number 1. The
International Horn Society. November, 1977.
127 Yancich, Milan. An Orchestra Musician's Odyssey -
A View from the Rear. Wind Music, Inc.
Rochester, New York. 1995.
128 page 897. Jean Bedetti,
violincellist. Boston Symphony Program Notes.
Boston, Massachusetts. January 20, 1920.
129 page 477. Feuilleton: Personalnachrichten.
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, no. 39.
Leipzig, Germany. September 25, 1901.
130 page 5. Smith, Dexter The World of Music.
The Musical Record, number 382. Oliver Ditson Co. Boston,
Massachusetts. November, 1893.
131 page 369. Maitland, J. A. Fuller. The Kneisel
Quartet. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Volume 1.
Theodore Presser Co. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1922.
132 Blumner, Martin. Geschichte der Sing-Akademie zu
Berlin. Verlag Horn & Raasch. Berlin, Germany. 1891.
133 page 76. Saerchinger, Cesar. Artur Schnabel -
A Biography. Saerchinger Press. November 2008.
134 page 71. Dwight, John Sullivan.
Concerts. Dwight's Journal of Music.
Volume 39-41. Boston, Massachusetts. April 26, 1879.
135 page 361. Biographical
Directory of the State of New York, 1900.
Biographical Directory Company. New York, New York. 1900.
136 page 239. Dwight, John Sullivan.
First Triennial Festival of the Handel and Haydn Society.
Dwight's Journal of Music. Volume 27-28. May 9, 1868.
137 Ryan, Thomas. Recollections of an Old
Musician. E. P. Dutton & Co. New York,
New York. 1899.
138 Shanet, Howard. Philharmonic: A History of
New York's Orchestra. New York. Doubleday, 1975.
139 pages 680-681. Hale, Philip. A Note
on Oboes. Boston Symphony Orchestra Programme Notes.
Boston, Massachusetts. December 17, 1909.
140 page 35. Interesting Concerts Mark
Year's Opening. Oakland Tribune. Oakland,
California December 29, 1935.
141 page 15. San Francisco Symphony to
Open Pop Season. Oakland Tribune. Oakland,
California January 14, 1936.
142 page 39. New Leader Pierre
Monteux. Oakland Tribune. Oakland,
California September 8, 1935.
143 page 81. Monteux Los Angeles
Philharmonic Engagement. Oakland Tribune. Oakland,
California December 22, 1935.
144 Johnson, H. Earle. The Germania
Society. Musical Quarterly volume 39, number 1.
New York, New York. January 1953.
145 page 823. The Kruse Quartet
Party. Musical Times Novello, London. December 1, 1898.
146 Williams, Amédée Daryl.
Lillian Fuchs: First Lady of the Viola.
iUniverse, Incorporated. 2004. ISBN-13: 9780595309573
147Form Quintette to Give Concerts.
New York Times. New York, New York. June 20, 1913.
148 page 42 Prof. Boettcher Dies in Germany.
Lowell Sun. Lowell, Massachusetts. January 9, 1937.
149 page 25 All Laid Over.
Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts. May 7, 1901.
150A Week's Musical Topics.
New York Times. New York, New York. October 21, 1894.
151 Knight, Ellen E. Charles Martin Loeffler:
A Life Apart in American music.
University of Illinois Press. Urbana, Illinois. 1993.
152 page 11. Funeral Today for Placido
Fiumara. Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts.
November 22, 1917.
153 page 8. Noted Band Leader's Obsequies.
Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts.
February 14, 1900.
154 . Murphy, Joseph M. Saxophone Instruction
in American Schools. Bulletin of Historical Research in
Music Education. Ithaca College.
Ithaca, New York. 1996.
155 .page 57. Young Artists Winners.
Music Clubs Magazine Volumes 21-23.
National Federation of Music Clubs.
Chicago, Illinois. 1941.
156 page 4. The Next Philharmonic.
Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts.
November 6, 1890.
157 page 8. Fritz Giese.
Waterloo Daily Courier. Waterloo, Iowa.
September 11, 1896.
158 page 8. Professor of Music
Under Arrest. Ogden Standard. Ogden, Utah.
February 19, 1909.
159 page 437. Heiles,
Anne Mischakoff. America's Concertmasters.
Harmonie Park Press. Sterling Heights, MI. 2007.
160 page 4. Heard by Thousands - The Boston
Globe Band Concert. Boston Globe. Boston,
Massachusetts. September 4, 1894.
161 page 5. Boston Cadet Band Concert.
Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. May 28, 1877.
162 page 19. Jack Benny Draws 20,000
At Phila.. Lebanon Daily News.
Lebanon, Pennsylvania. August 1, 1962.
163 page 5. Engage Inez Gorman for
Role in Wagner's Opera. Ironwood Daily Globe.
Ironwood, Michigan. January 27, 1936.
164 page 5. Knoisol Quartet.
Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts. December 22, 1896.
165 page 20 Conservatory of Music
Notes. Boston Globe Boston,
Massachusetts. August 5, 1896.
166 page 5 Star Course
Concert. Boston Globe Boston,
Massachusetts. December 29, 1891.
167 page 126. Christopher.
Franz Schreker, 1878-1934: A Cultural Biography.
Cambridge University Press. New York, March, 1993.
168 page 9.
Dickson, Harry Ellis. "Gentlemen, More Dolce
Please !". Beacon Press. Boston. 1974. ISBN 0-8070-5178-0.
169 Leonard, John W. Who's Who
In America 1906-1907. A. N. Marquis & Company. Chicago.
170Musical Educator is
Dead: Benjamin Cutter.
The Lowell Sun. Lowell, Massachusetts. May 12, 1910.
171 page 4. Society.
Bath Independent and Enterprise. Bath, Maine.
November 27, 1909.
172 page 8 Symphony Player
Dead. Boston Globe Boston,
Massachusetts. October 22, 1903.
173 page 26. Musical
Notes. Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta,
Georgia. January 28, 1900.
174 Schweikert, Norman. The Horns
of Valhalla: Saga of the Reiter Brothers. WindSong Press
Limited. Gurnee, Illinois. 2012.
175 Zingel, Hans Joachim, Palkovic, Mark editor and
translator. Harp Music in the Nineteenth Century.
Indiana University Press. Bloomington, Indiana.
1992. ISBN-13: 9780253368706
176 Herforth, Harry. Herseth, Adolph and Lessen,
Martin. A Tribute to George Mager.
International Trumpet Guild Journal. Manhattan, Kansas.
177 Page 2. Orchestra School Faculty
Announced. Florence Morning News.
Florence, South Carolina. November 10, 1939.
182 page 3 Mabel and Number 5.
Titusville Herald. Titusville, Pennsylvania. February 5, 1940.
183 Arts section Peter Q. Schenkman.
Randolph Herald. Randolph, Massachusetts. March 2, 2006.
184 page 4. Listemann String Quartette.
Fort Wayne News. Fort Wayne, Indiana. February 26, 1898.
185 page 33. The Pops Concerts.
Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts. April 26, 1903.
186 Biographical claims in newspaper interviews and in the webpage
http://michelsasson.com/bio.htm of Michel Sasson's website. also page 31
Interview. Lowell Sun. Lowell, Massachusetts.
November 9, 1972.
187 United States Naturalization Records of June 10, 1964,
District Court, District of Masssachusetts. Also Boston Symphony Archives.
Also Who's Who in Entertainment. Second edition 1992-1993. Wilmette, Illinois.