Principal Musicians of the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
with brief biographical remarks
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Principal Musicians of the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera House in 1905 at Broadway and 39th Streets
A Chronological Listing of the Musicians
of the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera, New York
The Metropolitan Opera was incorporated in 1880 by wealthy sponsors. The MET's inaugural season began on October 23, 1883 at its opera house at 39th and Broadway with a performance of Gounod's Faust. The Metropolitan Opera history since has been studded with so many famous names and historic performances they surpass any short listing. This is true also of its orchestra, although as we will see, the history of orchestra and musicians of the Metropolitan Opera is less well documented.
From the MET's initial performances in 1883, until 1891, the musicians who formed the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera were, for the most part, from the New York Symphony, particularly musicians other than the Principals. This would change beginning in the 1893-1894 season.
In looking at the chronology of the Metropolitan, there are two gaps in its performing chronology, which of course also affect the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. First is the season 1892 - 1893, when the Metropolitan did not perform due to a disastrous fire of August 27, 1892 that destroyed most of its building, and many instruments and association records. The Metropolitan Opera was also closed during the 1897-1898 season. During that season, the Opera house was leased to Maurice Grau and hosted only visiting opera groups. Grau took over full directorship in 1898, after which the Metropolitan flourished.
Maurice Grau in 1902
With the re-opening of the Metropolitan Opera in 1893, the 'Golden Age' arrived under the direction of Maurice Grau, who took over management in October, 1891 1 until 1903. Grau died in Paris on March 14, 1907, of heart disease 18. Grau was followed by two other greats: Heinrich Conried 1903 - 1908 and the superbly organized and innovative Giulio Gatti-Casazza for 25 years from 1908 - 1935. It was said of Gatti-Casazza that he spoke no English - perhaps an exaggeration, and perhaps also a convenient role for him. One of the most famous MET General Managers was Rudolf Bing (later in 1971, Sir Rudolf) who reined (not an exaggeration) from 1950 to 1972. During this period, Bing was frequently accused of avoiding giving authority to any eminent conductor, and fearing the competition of a Music Director. Nevertheless, many of the leading conducting names worked at the MET during Bing's regime, including George Szell, Fritz Reiner, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and even Herbert von Karajan.
Anton Seidl (1850-1898) was a Hungarian operatic conductor, born in Budapest May 7, 1850. Seidl studied at the Leipzig Conservatory from October 1870-1872. Seidl then went to Bayreuth as one of Richard Wagner's copyists, living in Wagner's home. At Bayreuth, Seidl assisted in the creation of the first copy of the score of Das Ring des Nibelungen. As a consequence, Seidl was at the first Bayreuth Festival in the Summer of 1876. An important opportunity for Seidl resulted from Wagner's recommendation of Seidl as conductor of the Leipzig Stadt-Theater. Seidl conducted in Leipzig from 1878-1882, to be succeeded by his Hungarian contemporary, the young Artur Nikisch (1855-1922). Then, in 1882, Seidl toured with the Angelo Neumann Nibelungen Ring Company. The conducting reputation of Seidl was further consolidated during this tour. In 1885, Seidl was appointed as successor to Leopold Damrosch, who had died (1832-1885) as conductor of the German Repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera. Also, during the Summers, beginning in 1886, Seidl conducted at the Bayreuth Festival. From 1891-1898, Anton Seidl succeeded Theodore Thomas as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, where he enjoyed a popularity of something like today's movie celebrities (never experienced by Theodore Thomas). As a consequence, the Philharmonic Society of New York experienced new financial prosperity. In 1897, Anton Seidl conducted in London at Covent Garden. Also in 1897, Anton Seidl organized a symphony orchestra, the Seidl Orchestra so named, that many thought would become a permanent New York feature, given the financial backing of the many Seidl admirers. However, Anton Seidl died suddenly in New York City on March 28, 1898, not yet age 48, seemingly of food poisoning. The conducting style of Seidl is said to have been characterized by free tempi and interpretation, even of established classics, such as Beethoven, which divided listeners and critics of the era.
Walter Damrosch was born in Breslau, Prussia, some 100 km east of Dresden (now Wroclaw, Poland) on January 13, 1862, son of the conductor Leopold Damrosch (1832-1885). Walter Damrosch, as well as studying under his father, attended the Dresden Conservatory, where he studied with Wilhelm Albert Rischbieter (1834-1910) and Felix Draeseke (1835-1913). The Damrosch family emigrated to the U.S. in 1871, a year after Leopold Damrosch had visited the U.S. and found it welcoming. Walter began conducting both oratorio society and concerts under his father, Leopold who became conductor of the German repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera in 1884. At that time, Walter Damrosch was an assistant conductor, and advanced to the German repertoire under Seidl when Leopold Damrosch died in 1885. At the MET, Walter Damrosch was respected in his conducting of Wagner, although contemporary critics wrote that he did not reach the heights of contemporaries such as Hertz, and well short of the very different approaches of Mahler or Toscanini. Walter Damrosch was also a successful symphonic conductor. Leopold Damrosch had founded the New York Symphony Society (in 1903, renamed the New Symphony) in 1878, which Walter Damrosch took over in 1885 upon his father's death. Walter Damrosch had a successful relationship with Andrew Carnegie which resulted in Carnegie funding of the Symphony Society, and the funding of the construction of Carnegie Hall, opened in 1891. This was a Damrosch strength of which the New York Times said '...he has the shrewdness in business matters denied most musicians...' 97. Andrew Carnegie also supported the 1920 tour of the New York Symphony in Europe, the first U.S. orchestra to make such a tour. During the 1920s, Damrosch progressively conducted symphony concerts less and less, and beginning 1927, became Music Director for NBC radio. At NBC, Damrosch lead a successful classical music appreciation program, directed at youths, and which continued until 1942. Damrosch was also a composer, including of at least four operas, including 'The Scarlet Letter' premiered in 1895 96. These works are generally forgotten today. Walter Damrosch died in New York City December 22, 1950 of a heart attack 95.
Frank Van der Stucken was born in Fredericksburg, Texas on October 15, 1858. In 1866, Van de Stucken went to Antwerp with his parents. Van der Stucken's father, Frank (1830 - circa 1908), was born and raised in Antwerp, and came to Texas. After serving as a Captain in the Confederate Army, Frank Van der Stucken, Sr. found himself on the wrong side of the after-war society. He therefore took the family back to Antwerp. There, Frank Van der Stucken Jr. studied violin with Émile Wambach (1854-1924) from 1866 to 1876 and composition and theory with the Belgian composer Peter Benoit (1834-1901). Frank Van der Stucken then went to Leipzig where he studied with Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) during 1876 - 1878 as well as with Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) and Hermann Langer (1819–1889) who was then Universitätsmusikdirektor at Leipzig. Van der Stucken learned conducting by the traditional European method of being a regional kapellmeister, first at the Stadttheater Breslau, Prussia (now Wroclaw, Poland) in 1881-1882. Van den Stucken was introduced to Franz Liszt at Weimar by his teacher Edvard Grieg in 1883. From 1879 to 1881 Van der Stucken traveled throughout Europe and met and worked with Giuseppe Verdi, Emmanuel Chabrier, and Jules Massenet. In about 1883, Frank Van der Stucken moved to New York where he succeeded Leopold Damrosch as conductor of the Arion Society (a choral and orchestral society) from 1884-1895. According to Hubbard 19, Max Bendix was the Concertmaster of the Arion Society orchestra (among other orchestral and chamber music jobs) under Van der Stucken in the 1885-1886 season. Van der Stucken gave concerts with the Arion Society championing music of American composers. Van der Stucken was appointed the first conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra serving from 1895-1907. From about 1901 to about 1907, he conducted frequently at the Metropolitan Opera. Van der Stucken also continued his Cincinnati connection for many years. He directed the Cincinnati May Festival, from 1906-1912 and 1923-1927 (in earlier years, the Festival was only every second year). Frank van der Stucken returned for the Cincinnati festivals from Europe. He had relocated to Germany in 1908. Van der Stucken again conducted the Cincinnati May Festival in 1923, and was its Music Director in 1925 and 1927. Van der Stucken's last trip to the United States was in was in October 1928 for celebrations of his 70th birthday with friends and admirers in New York and Cincinnati. Frank Van der Stucken died in Hamburg, Germany on August 16, 1929.
Alfred Hertz was born in Frankfurt, Germany on July 15, 1872. In the late 1880s, Hertz entered the newly formed Raff Konservatorium in Frankfurt, studying piano and composition under Anton Urspruch (1850-1907). In 1892, Alfred Hertz began the usual path in Germany for learning conducting, by entering a regional theater, the Hoftheatre of the small town of Altenberg, Germany, 30 km south of Dresden. Hertz stayed in Altenberg for three seasons, 1892-1895, before going to the Stadttheater of Barmen-Elberfeld (renamed Wuppertal after 1930), near Stuttgart during 1895-1899. Hertz then went to the much larger city of Breslau, 100 km east of Dresden (Breslau now being in Poland, with the name of Wroclaw). From 1899-1902, Hertz conducted at the Stadttheater Breslau (where Frank Van der Stucken had also conducted during the 1881-1882 season). In 1902, Alfred Hertz made the large jump to the Metropolitan Opera, where he became the principal conductor of the Germany repertory, succeeding Walter Damrosch. Hertz was well received in New York, although some critics thought his orchestra drowned out many of the singers. On December 24, 1903, Alfred Hertz at the MET was the first to conduct Parsifal outside of Wagner's Bayreuth, causing a controversy. For a time, all German opera houses would not engage Hertz because of this. We can still hear Hertz's early interpretation of music from Parsifal in the September, 1913 recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic, beautifully restored by Mark Obert-Thorn on Naxos Historical 8.110049 and 8.110050. During his tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, Hertz toured the U.S. regularly, including in San Francisco during the great earthquake of 1906. Hertz left the Metropolitan opera at the end of the 1912-1913 season, and went to Los Angeles that summer of 1913 to conduct at the Panama Exposition. Hertz then returned to Germany for the 1913-1914 season, where he conducted, among others, the Berlin Philharmonic which also led to the famous Parsifal recording. In 1915, Hertz came to San Francisco to direct a festival of Beethoven's music, when he was offered direction of the San Francisco Symphony. So, in the 1915-1916 season, Alfred Hertz became Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, where he remained for 15 seasons. In 1917, when the U.S. entered World War 1, Hertz became a U.S. citizen. When Victor opened its facilities in Oakland, California, across the San Francisco Bay, Hertz led the San Francisco Symphony in a series of recordings 1925-1930. Many of these recordings in excellent restorations by Mark Obert-Thorn are available from Andrew Rose's superb Pristine Classical (www.pristineclassical.com). After his farewell San Francisco Symphony concert on April 30, 1930, Hertz remained in California, living in Berkeley, where he endowed Hertz Hall at the University of California, Berkeley. Hertz also conducted for radio in the 1930s for the Standard Symphony Hour on NBC. Alfred Hertz died in San Francisco on April 17, 1942.
Arturo Toscanini was born on March 25, 1867 in Parma, Italy in the Emilia-Romagna, famous for its musical traditions. In 1897, Toscanini entered the Parma Conservatory, where he studied cello and solfčge 71. He graduated in 1885 with distinction. The next year, in 1886, Toscanini was traveling with a contract orchestra in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In a famous incident, the local conductor, Leopoldo Miguez (1850-1902) had been rejected by the singers, and after several unsuccessful substitutes, Toscanini, the chorus master took over the performance of Aida on June 30, 1886 71. Following his South American successes, Toscanini conducted in Italy, but also continued playing the cello. Toscanini was in the cello section of the La Scala premiere of Verdi's Otello in 1887. As Toscanini's conducting reputation grew, he was granted the world premieres of the Leoncavallo - Pagliacci (1892) and Puccini - La Bohčme (1896). In 1898, Toscanini became Director of the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Toscanini devoted seven seasons to La Scala, 1898-1903 and 1906-1908. During Toscanini's tenure at La Scala, he conducted first Italian performances of Wagner - Siegfried, Tchaikovsky - Eugene Onegin, Strauss - Salome and Debussy - Pelléas et Mélisande. Toscanini then accepted a similar post with the Metropolitan Opera in the 1908-1909 season. In New York, Toscanini was an instant favorite, and remained until the end of the 1914-1915 season. During Toscanini's tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, he gave the world premiere of Puccini - La Fanciulla del West, and U.S. premieres of Mussorgsky - Boris Godunov, and revivals of historic works by Weber and Gluck. In 1915, Toscanini returned to support Italy during World War 1. Following the war, in 1920-1921, Toscanini toured the U.S. with the La Scala Orchestra, making his first recordings with the Victor Talking Machine Company in December, 1920 and March 1921 69. In December 1921, after being closed 1918-1920, Toscanini reopened La Scala with a famous performance of 'Falstaff'. After leaving La Scala, Toscanini accepted to become co-conductor (with Willem Mengelberg) of the of New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, 1926-1930. Then, in 1930, following the merger of the Philharmonic Society of New York with the New York Symphony Society Toscanini became its sole conductor. Political developments also had an important effect on Toscanini's career. In the early 1920s, Toscanini became disillusioned with Mussolini and with fascism and repeatedly refused to conduct the Fascist anthem Giovinezza. At a memorial concert for Giuseppe Martucci in May, 1931 Toscanini was attacked by fascist blackshirts when he again refused to conduct Giovinezza. Toscanini then abandoned Italy. Toscanini was the first non-German conductor at Bayreuth at the 1930 and 1931 festivals. He also took the New York Philharmonic on a European tour in 1930, including at Bayreuth. 1934-1937, Toscanini conducted at the Salzburg Festival, but withdrew in 1938 after the German anschluss of Austria. In 1936, Toscanini accepted the Bronislaw Huberman (1882-1947) invitation to conduct the inaugural concert of the Palestine Symphony 72. In 1937, on David Sarnoff's initiative the new NBC Symphony Orchestra was formed for Toscanini who conducted the first broadcast concert on December 25, 1937. Toscanini continued to conduct the NBC Symphony until his famous last concert on April 4, 1954. What more can be said or written about Toscanini, certainly the most famous conductor of the Twentieth Century ? His precision, dedication to perfection, his tantrums (another aspect of perfection), his dedication to the score (although he, too, made changes), his memory and above all, his genius. The reputation that his later performances, rather than slowing, as did other conductors late in their careers, such as Klemperer, Walter, Weingartner, instead sped up. Some claimed they became too hard-driven. Although not always true, there is in my view some truth in this opinion. Mortimer H. Frank in his fascinating book Arturo Toscanini - The NBC Years writes that this speeding up was '...the product of his rethinking of interpretive problems...' 73. Toscanini's later Wagner did not speed up, and there was always a pulse in the music appropriate to the score. However, Toscanini's earlier BBC recordings, and particularly his New York Philharmonic recordings, which are few, also contain some of his best work. His 1936 Philharmonic recording of the Beethoven Symphony no 7 remains, for me, unsurpassed. I recommend you download this legendary performance in Andrew Rose's superb restoration at www.pristineclassical.com
Artur Bodanzky was born in Vienna, Austria on December 16, 1877 of Hungarian parents Carl Bodanzky and Hanna Feuchtwang, neither of whom were particularly musical. In the 1890s in Vienna, Bodanzky studied violin and composition with the young Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942, later known for his conducting and compositions). Bodanzky graduated from the Vienna Conservatory in 1896 36. Beginning in the 1896-1897 season, Bodanzky played in the first violin section of the Vienna Opera 36. In about 1901, Bodanzky then became a conducting assistant to Gustav Mahler at the Vienna Opera. Bodanzky then went to the Komische Oper of Budweis in what was then referred to as Bohemia (now Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic) in about 1904. Bodanzky conducted opera and light opera in Paris, Russia, and Germany. In the 1906-1909 seasons, Artur Bodanzky was conductor at the Neues Deutsches Landestheater in Prague, where Otto Klemperer also conducted from 1907-1910. After Prague, Bodanzky went to the Mannheim Stadttheater as principal conductor and later Music Director 1909-1913. Bodanzky came to the U.S. in October, 1915 to assume his duties as principal conductor of the German repertory at the MET. Bodanzky had been accepted by Toscanini, still then at the MET, with whom Bodanzky shared the conducting of the German repertoire until Toscanini's departure one year later. New York critics in 1916 favorably compared Bodanzky's performances of Wagner with those of Toscanini. Bodanzky also became conductor of the Society of Friends of Music which post he held 1916-1931. Bodanzky became a U.S. citizen in 1921. At the end of the 1927-1928 season, Bodanzky resigned from the Metropolitan Opera, and in the next season, Joseph Rosenstock was appointed as principal conductor of the German repertoire. This selection of Rosenstock, who had been conductor at the Stadtsoper, Wiesbaden 35 proved unsuccessful, and Bodanzky was retained again in the 1929-1930 season, where he remained until his death in 1939. Bodanzky was noted for the rapid tempi of his conducting, including of the music of Wagner. He was also criticized for the number of cuts he made to scores, even in an era that extensive cuts to operas was the norm. Arthur Bodanzky suffered a heart attack on October 28, 1939, and died one month later on November 23, 1939 at the beginning of his twenty-fourth season at the Metropolitan Opera.
Tullio Serafin was born in Rottanova di Cavarzere, Italy, near Venice on September 1, 1878.  Serafin was a child prodigy on the violin, and is said to have played for Verdi. Serafin studied violin at the Milan Conservatory. He played in the La Scala orchestra under Toscanini, beginning in about 1898. Serafin made his conducting debut at Ferrara, Italy in 1898. In the early 1900s, Serafin also began conducting at La Scala. His abilities were such that when Toscanini departed for the Metropolitan Opera in 1908, Serafin increased his conducting, and was named Music Director, beginning in the 1909-1910 season. Serafin introduced new works, such as conducting the Italian premiere of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier 41. Serafin continued in this position until 1918 except when La Scala was closed 1914-1917 because of World War 1. La Scala was then again closed 1918-1920. In 1924, Serafin joined the conducting staff at the MET in the Italian repertoire for ten seasons until the end of 1933-1934. In 1926, Serafin went to Rome to take over the Teatro Reale dell'Opera, which he resuscitated during the next decade, 1934-1943. Serafin is said to be one of the first who realized the great talent of Maria Callas, and cultivated it. Callas said that it was Serafin, who conducted her Italian debut, who guided her to become a prima donna 41. With Maria Callas, Serafin did much to create interest in the 'bel canto', repertoire, substantially forgotten in opera houses by the mid-Twentieth century. Most singers were happy under Serafin's direction, since he was typically positive, supportive, and attentive to their musical styles. Tullio Serafin died in Rome in February 2, 1968, just short of his ninetieth birthday.
Ettore Panizza was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 2, 1875, of parents of Italian heritage. Panizza's father, and first teacher was a cellist at the Teatro Colón, in Buenos Aires. Panizza studied at the Milan Conservatory. Panizza's conducting debut was at the Rome Opera, in 1897, where he held the position of assistant. Panizza conducted at La Scala, Milan from about 1908-1919, and then following the reopening 1921-193. Panizza shared the conducting duties with Toscanini following the 1921 reopening until Toscanini left for the New York Philharmonic in 1929. Panizza, continued at La Scala until the end of the 1931-1932 season. Joseph Horowitz wrote that Panizza at La Scala was regarded highly by Toscanini and also by Richard Strauss, who arranged that Panizza would conduct Electra in Vienna 33.  Panizza also conducted at Covent Garden, London in the early 1930s. Beginning in the 1934-1935 season, he took over responsibilities as principal conductor of the Italian repertoire from Tullio Serafin. Panizza remained at the MET until the end of the 1943-1943 season, when he returned to Italy following the fall of Mussolini. Also, all during his time at La Scala and the MET, Panizza continued to conduct at the Teatro Colón during the 'off' season, which was the prime opera season for the Teatro Colón. Panizza's conducting style was vigorous and propulsive. Panizza died in Milan, Italy November 27, 1967.
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.
George Szell rehearsing in his first season with the Cleveland Orchestra 1947
George Szell was born in Budapest, Hungary on June 7, 1897. Before he was six, his family had moved to Vienna, and George Szell considered himself Viennese in origin. He showed early musical talent and was taken as a piano student by Richard Robert (1861-1924), who also taught Rudolf Serkin and Clara Haskill, and who had been a friend of Brahms. Georg Szell (as he was then) toured a number of European cities in 1909 as a piano prodigy. By his mid-teens, Szell said later that he had determined to become a conductor. His first conducting opportunity came, it seems in a Bavarian spa, Bad Kissingen in either 1913 or 1914 according to different sources. He had been vacationing there, where members of the Vienna Symphony were also performing. The Vienna Symphony conductor was injured, and Szell substituted, with success. In 1915, he conducted the Blüthner Orchestra, sponsored by the piano company, in Berlin. Also in 1915, at age 18, Szell gained appointment as one of the conductors at the Berlin Royal Opera or "Königliche Kapelle", after 1919 named "Staatsoper Berlin". There, Richard Strauss became something of a mentor to Szell, whom he saw had great talents, including in the performance of Strauss's own compositions. A famous story, often retold, from about this time was of the 1917 acoustic recording of Strauss's Don Juan, opus 20. The recording with the Königliche Kapelle orchestra was to be rehearsed by Szell, so that Strauss could sleep later. After the rehearsal, with Strauss still not arriving, the Gramophon engineers instructed Szell to continue to conduct the recording. After Szell had recorded two of the four 78 RPM sides of about 4 minutes each, Strauss who had arrived conducted the other two sides. This recording, issued on Gramophon disks 69525, 69526, 65856, and 65857 74 shows Szell more fiery and rapid, and Strauss more lyrical. In later years, Szell said that he learned much about music and conducting from Strauss, although he also told amusing stories about Strauss's occasional lack of involvement with his conducting if other things were on Strauss's mind.
After the Berlin Royal Opera, in 1917, Szell had the opportunity to become conductor of the Municipal Theatre, Strasbourg on the recommendation of Otto Klemperer, whom he succeeded. In 1918, Szell went to the German Opera (Neues deutsches Theater) in Prague. This experience was followed in about 1921-1924 by conducting appointments of the Darmstadt Theater and of the Deutsche Oper - Düsseldorf. In 1924, Georg Szell returned to the renamed Berlin State Opera - Staatsoper Berlin as a conductor under Erich Kleiber. In 1929, Georg Szell returned to Prague now as Music Director of the German Opera and of the Philharmonic. The next season 1930-1931 saw his US premier as a guest conductor of the St. Louis Symphony in 1930, where he returned in 1931. Szell was considered a candidate for the St. Louis Symphony music directorship, vacant since the 1927 departure of Rudolph Ganz to the Chicago Musical College. Meanwhile, Szell continued his posts in Prague until 1937, when he accepted two concurrent orchestra responsibilities: the Residente Orchestra in the Hague - Netherlands and the Scottish Orchestra (later the Scottish National Orchestra) in Glasgow. In 1938 and 1939, George Szell performed extensively in Australia with the Australian Broadcasting Company. Returning from Australia in 1939, with war beginning in Europe, George Szell stayed in New York City, where he initially taught at the Mannes School of Music. In the summers of 1939 and 1940, Szell was a conductor at the Hollywood Bowl. An important break for Szell was Toscanini's invitation conduct the NBC Symphony in 1941. Toscanini is said to have been impressed previously when he guest-conducted Szell's Residente Orchestra and found it much improved. Szell was hired for the German repertoire at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1942-1943 season, succeeding Erich Leinsdorf. George Szell continued at the Metropolitan Opera for four seasons 1942-1946. After Arthur Rodzinski accepted the Music Director position of the New York Philharmonic in December, 1942, George Szell was a candidate, along with Erich Leinsdorf and Vladimir Golschmann to become Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra. As described above, Erich Leinsdorf was selected for Cleveland, but within a year, Leinsdorf entered the US Army, so making little impression in Cleveland. In the 1944-1945 season, when Leinsdorf was available to conduct, the Cleveland Orchestra season had already been programmed with guest conductors including George Szell. The 1945-1946 Cleveland season became a horserace between Leinsdorf, Szell, and Vladimir Golschmann as to who would become permanent conductor. George Szell gradually emerged during that season as the favorite, and was appointed Music Director beginning with the 1946-1947 season. This began one of the legendary Conductor - Orchestra partnerships of the twentieth century.
Fritz Busch was born in Siegen, Westphalia, Germany on March 13, 1890. Fritz's father had wanted to be a musician, and starting as a carpenter, he later became a violin maker 86. He brought up a family that was musical; Fritz's younger brother Adolf Busch (1891-1952) was a violinist, and Hermann Busch (1898-1975) was a well-known cellist.
Rudolf Serkin with father-in-law Adolf Busch and Hermann Busch
Fritz Busch began piano study at age five, and also began studying the instruments of the orchestra early as part of his free tuition 86. At Cologne, he studied piano under Karl Boettcher and conducting under Fritz Steinbach (1855-1916). In 1909, still only 19, he had his first conducting experience at the Deutsches Theater in Riga, Latvia (Bruno Walter also had early conducting experience there). This was followed by two small regional orchestras in central Germany: Bad Pyrmont and Gotha. In 1912, he moved to the larger city of Aachen in the extreme west of Germany. Following his service in World War 1 (he was wounded), an opportunity in 1918 for Busch to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic in music of Reger led Fritz Busch to be appointed conductor in Stuttgart 1918-1922. In 1922, Busch moved to the post he was early associated with, as Music Director of the Semper Opera in Dresden, Germany. Fritz Busch developed the Semper Opera into one of the leading opera houses of Europe. He led the premieres of several Richard Strauss operas: Intermezzo (1924) and Die Ägyptische Helena - The Egyptian Helen (1928). Busch prepared the premiere of Strauss' Arabella in 1933. However, with the accession of the Nazi government, Busch, although not Jewish, was an early target because of his expressed political disagreement with 'National Socialism'. Fritz Busch was expelled from the Semper Opera, and Clemens Krauss conducted the premiere 85. At this time, Busch was invited to conduct at the Colon Theater in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he went in 1933, leaving Germany. Fritz Busch was Music Director of the Glyndebourne Music Festival 1934-1951. During this same period, Fritz Busch was principal guest conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in Copenhagen 1934-1951. He also guest conducted many leading orchestras in the 1930s and 1940s, including the NBC Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and. Fritz Busch made his Metropolitan Opera debut November 26, 1945 with Wagner's Lohengrin 89. 1945-1949, Busch was one of the principal conductors of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, not only in German, but in the Italian repertoire.
Fritz Busch in the late 1940s
In early 1951, Fritz Busch accepted the direction of the Vienna Staatsoper. In the Summer of 1951, Fritz Busch conducted at the Glyndebourne, and took Glyndebourne to the Edinburgh Festival. Busch had progressive heart disease during the previous five years, and on July 20, 1951 he collapsed during a performance of Don Giovanni 88. Although ill, was able to complete the season with at Glyndebourne and Edinburgh. He was to have taken the Glyndebourne company on a U.S. tour in 1952. However, Fritz Busch died of a heart attack in a London hotel on September 14, 1951 87. So, Fritz Busch's death at age only 61 prevented him from taking up either the Vienna Staatsoper position or the Glyndebourne U.S. tour. Fritz Busch certainly had a successful career in North and South America, and in England and Denmark. However, after Dresden, Busch never benefited from the public acclaim given to the very most popular conductors of his generation. Yet, his surviving recordings demonstrate he was of that level.
Fritz Reiner was born in Budapest, Hungary on December 19, 1888. Reiner in Budapest intended to study law, at the urging of his father, but in 1899, he entered the Franz Liszt Academy, where he studied piano (including with Bela Bartok) and composition (Leo Weiner). Reiner had his initial experiences as a répétiteur at the German Comic Opera at Budapest in 1908. In 1910-1911, Reiner was conductor at the German Opera House in Ljubljana (now in Slovenia) under Vaclav Talich (1883-1961). In 1914, Reiner moved to Dresden, conducting at the Saxon Court Oper, where he came into extended contact with Richard Strauss. In Dresden, Reiner conducted the first performance of Strauss's 'Die Frau ohne Schatten', immediately following its Vienna premieres in 1919. Reiner left Dresden in 1921 and then emigrated to the U.S. in 1922 to become conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony, following his predecessors Frank Van der Stucken (1895-1907), Leopold Stokowski (1909-1912), and Eugčne Ysa˙e (1918-1922). Fritz Reiner stayed in Cincinnati for eleven seasons, from 1922-1933. By the 1925-1926 season, only 25 of the original 92 musicians of the orchestra when Reiner arrived in 1922 were still with the Cincinnati Symphony. Reiner became a U.S. citizen in 1928. Beginning in 1931, Reiner was in charge of the conducting program at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where he continued until 1938. In the 1938-1939 season, Reiner became Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, which he reorganized and improved, while firing dozens of musicians each season. Reiner remained at Pittsburgh until the end of the 1947-1948 season, where he made a number of famous recordings for Columbia records. During this period, he also made stylish recordings of baroque music including the Bach Brandenburg Concerti with New York session musicians which demonstrated his mastery, uncommon for the period, of baroque playing. In both Pittsburgh and Chicago, Reiner also recorded a number of works of Bela Bartok, and he was instrumental in convincing Serge Koussevitzky to commission in 1943 Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. 1949-1953 and as guest conductor later, Fritz Reiner was the principal among a number of staff conductors at the MET, during the early regime of Rudolf Bing, who became General Manager in 1950. While at the MET, Reiner conducted a number of famous productions, including in 1949, the Strauss Salome with soprano Ljuba Welitsch as Salome, and the U.S. premiere of Stravinsky's 'The Rake's Progress' in 1951. In 1953, Reiner was named Music Director of the Chicago Symphony, a post he maintained for nine seasons until the end of the 1961-1962 season. Reiner then became Musical Advisor in Chicago for the 1962-1963 season. Even though Georg Solti famously claimed that prior to his arrival in Chicago in 1969, the Chicago Symphony was a 'provincial orchestra', in fact, through good selection of musicians, demanding standards and in part through his ruthless elimination of any musician who displeased him, Reiner build one of the great orchestras of the world in Chicago. Although many conductors have had the reputation of being a martinet, Fritz Reiner does seem to have had a sadistic streak in his conduct, and was famous for his hounding of the the musicians of weakest character in his orchestras, and playing 'mind games' to manipulate his players. However, strong characters, such as Ray Still (oboe) or Donald Peck (flute) generally did not have problems with Reiner. In Chicago, Reiner also produced many great recordings, too numerous to mention individually. These recordings for Victor were also sonically at the leading edge of their time, and are still highly regarded both for inspired performances, and rich, transparent sound. In spite of being, perhaps a mean and unlovable as a person, Fritz Reiner as a conductor was one of the greats of the Twentieth Century, with a command of musical idioms from Bach, through Mozart, to the Romantics and Strauss, up to the music by his teacher, Bartok. Perhaps the only surprising gap is that he seems not to have been one of the great interpreters of Beethoven. Following a major heart attack in October 7, 1960, Reiner did not conduct the Chicago Symphony until late March, 1961 31. After the heart attack, Reiner continued to conduct, although more cautiously, in Chicago, and preparing a new MET production of Die Götterdämmerung. Finally, after April, 1963, Reiner withdrew to his long-time home, Rambleside in Connecticut. Fritz Reiner died in New York City November 15, 1963.
Rafael Kubelik was born June 29, 1914 in Bychory, a Czech village about 50 km east of Prague. Rafael was the sixth of 8 musical children of the famous Bohemian violinist Jan Kubelik (1880-1940) and his wife Countess Marianne Czáky-Szell. Rafael initially studied violin with his father, and also piano with his uncle Frantisek Kubelik, with whom Rafael played the symphonic classics four hands. Rafael Kubelik entered the Prague Conservatory in 1928, where he studied violin, piano, composition, and conducting, where he graduated with his diploma in 1933. In 1935 and 1936, Rafael Kubelik toured with his father, first in Europe and in 1936 in the US and Canada, Jan playing the violin, and Rafael accompanying on piano, or conducting 113.
Publicity for Jan and Rafael Kubelik touring the US in 1936
In 1936, Kubelik was appointed by Vaclav Talich to Assistant Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. In 1937, when Talich was unable to take the Czech Philharmonic on a UK tour, Kubelik substituted for him112. Kubelik was Director of the Brno Opera House from 1939-1941, and was chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic 1942-1948. In 1948, with the rise of a Communist authoritarian regime, Kubelik left Czechoslovakia, vowing not to return until the end of authoritarian rule. Kubelik settled first in England, where he conducted, including at Glyndebourne. Rafael Kubelik was offered conducting positions in the UK, including as a successor to Sir Adrian Boult at the BBC Orchestra, but opted instead for the Chicago Symphony. Kubelik was Music Director of the Chicago Symphony for three seasons 1950-1953. His Music Directorship in Chicago started badly when he attempted to replace replacing 22 of musicians during the first season, which met vigorous opposition. Also, during his Chicago term, Chicago Tribune music critic Claudia Cassidy who was an unrelenting critic of Kubelik 109, among other reasons it is said because of too heavy a diet of contemporary music. Kubelik then returned to the UK, where he conducted both symphony and opera. On October 6, 1954, Kubelik was named Music Director of Covent Garden Opera, serving 1955-1958. 108. However, Kubelik's time at the Covent Garden Opera was also stormy, with Sir Thomas Beecham, among others, criticizing having a foreign Music Director of Covent Garden. Although Kubelik remained, he did not renew his contract in 1958. Although Kubelik had refused to conduct in Germany following World War 2, he accepted to become Music Director of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1961. Kubelik remained in Munich 1961-1980 producing also numerous recordings. Kubelik took Swiss citizenship in 1967 110 In late 1971, Goran Gentele, the new General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera asked Kubelík to become Music Director, a newly created position, which even Arturo Toscanini did not hold. Kubelik and Gentele had a good working relationship, and Kubelík accepted, being named Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera in 1972 111. However, Gentele died in an automobile accident in Italy on July 18, 1972, which undermined Kubelík's working conditions at the MET. Kubelik made his Metropolitan Opera debut in October, 1973 with Les Troyens. However, he suffered regular criticism as spenting too much time in Europe, and of being a weak administrator. Tensions at the MET continued, and in February 1974, five months after his debut, he resigned. James Levine subsequently succeeded Kubelik 110. In later years, Kubelik's health deteriorated, due to heart disease and arthritis, which forced his retirement in 1985 112. However, Rafael Kubelik did conduct on further occassions: he returned to Czechoslovakia in 1990 to conduct "Ma Vlast" at the opening of the first Prague Spring Festival after the Vaclav Havel "Velvet Revolution". He also returned to Chicago on several occasions, the last being on October 18, 1991, the commemorative Centennial concert of the CSO, recreating the first Theodore Thomas concert of October 16, 1891. Kubelik conducted the Dvorak Hussika Overture at that Centennial celebration. Rafael Kubelik died near Lucerne, Switzerland on August 11, 1996.
Valery Abisalovich Gergiev was born May 2, 1953 in Moscow, USSR. Gergiev was raised in North Ossetia in the Caucasus region. After study of piano as a youth, he entered the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad 1972-1977. At the Conservatory, he studied with Professor Ilya Aleksandrovich Musin (1903-1999), whose many students included Semyon Bychkov, Oleg Caetani, Konstantin Simeonov, and Yuri Temirkanov, and as well as Valery Gergiev. After graduation from the Conservatory, Gergiev was appointed in 1978 assistant conductor to Yuri Temirkanov at the the Kirov Opera 91 (which reverted to its historic name of the Mariinsky Theater in 1992). Gergiev became the Director of the Kirov Opera in 1988, and guided it through its transition 1992-1993 back to its roots as the Mariinsky Theater 92. In 1991, Valery Gergiev conducted acclaimed productions at the Bavarian State Opera (Boris Godunov), and the San Francisco Opera (War and Peace). In 1992, the Kirov - Mariinsky Opera also performed under Gergiev in New York City 90. In 1993, Gergiev made his debut at Covent Garden, London (Eugene Onegin) 91. Beginning in 1988, Gergiev was a regular guest conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and then during 1995-2008, Gergiev became Chief (or Principal) Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic 93. Since about 1991, Gergiev has guest-conducted most of the leading orchestras of the world. Valery Gergiev made his Metropolitan Opera debut on April 2, 1993 with Otello. Gergiev was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera for the 1997-1998 season, and remained for 11 seasons until the end of 2007-2008.
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 51, 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. (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 51. 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 51. 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.
During his first decade at the MET, Levine 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.
James Levine conducting from a wheelchair
Following an investigation that ended in March 2018, having "found credible evidence", the MET terminated its relationship with Levine, for "sexually abusive and harassing conduct" 132
Yannick Nézet-Séguin was born in Montréal, Québec on 6 March 1975, son of two Montréal university professors, Serge Séguin and Claudine Nézet. Nézet-Séguin began piano studies early, and entered the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec in Montréal in about 1991. He also studied choral conducting with Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster Choir College. In 2000, Yannick Nézet-Séguin was appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of l'Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal, a post he continues to hold. In 2008, Nézet-Séguin was named Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, succeeding Valery Gergiev; a position Nézet-Séguin continues today. He has also been a Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic. Yannick Nézet-Séguin was appointed as the 8th Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra beginning in the 2012-2013 season. Prior to 2012, Yannick Nézet-Séguin was guest conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra with a title of Music Director Designate. Yannick Nézet-Séguin is also active in opera, appearing annually with the Metropolitan Opera and at La Scala Milan, the London's Royal Opera Covent Garden in London.
In 2016, the Metropolitan Opera announced that Yannick Nézet-Séguin would assume the responsibilities of "Music Director Designate" in 2017-2018, and that "he will become Music Director in the 2020-21 season". 267. He began demonstrating his art as an opera conductor is the 2018 issued DGG Nozze di Figaro recording:
The prestige and caliber of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra has always been high, yet has increased further since about 1980, when James Levine began to progressively reduce individual musician workload and adding second or alternate musicians for the key orchestral chairs.
David Berkowitz in his enjoyable memoire Behind the Gold Curtain 2
gives an intimate look at the life of the Metropolitan Orchestra musician beginning from when he began as a viola player in 1936. His account continues until his retirement fifty years later. In 1936, he states, the orchestra musicians were originally contracted for 8 performances per week, 7 evening operas and one Saturday matinee 3. By 1961, the musicians played 7 performances per week 11, compared with the typical American orchestra schedule of 3 performances per week, and of concerts typically shorter than the length of most operas.
In 1961, the musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra sought to negotiate a new contract providing them with less performances, and procedures to reduce the ability of the Metropolitan Opera management (Rudolf Bing and the conductors) to fire or demote orchestra musicians. The orchestra failed to achieve its objectives, which set up the confrontation in 1966 prior to the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera house in Lincoln Center.
in 1964, the musicians allowed their contract to be extended, and worked for a year without a contract leading up to the opening of the new opera house in the Autumn of 1966. They believed, correctly, that this lack of a contract would allow the musicians to bargain powerfully for the concessions they sought, but had failed to win in 1961. The Orchestra prevailed on Sir Rudolf Bing, General Manager from 1950 to 1972 by threatening to delay the opening of the new Opera House at Lincoln Center. The principal issue was that of reducing the weekly performance load. They gained a reduction to 6.5 performance per week (a night off every second week), and further progressive reductions to 5 performances a week by 1970 4. Also, they gained, for the first time, group medical insurance.
As he gained administrative authority, James Levine, starting in 1980 progressively reduced the workload and consequently was able to attract the number of quality of musicians necessary to add 'second' or 'alternate' musicians for the first chairs of each of the instrumental sections, including the strings. For many years, and at least since World War 1, the woodwinds and brass had employed alternates, since the demands of these instruments would not permit them to play night after night without respite, without the risk of a breakdown.
As the number of performances per week decreased, the season however, gradually increased from 12 weeks in the 1930s 16 weeks 1937-1945 13 and to 26 weeks by 1952. This would also increase in those years with extended national tours, such as 1948 and 1949, when ten addition weeks of touring was added 5. By the 1980s, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra's season was for the full year. For the first time, the MET Orchestra musicians had year-around employment with a workload similar to their Symphony Orchestra colleagues, and with medical insurance. The improvements in playing standards became gradually apparent under Levine.
Composition of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
From its inception until the end of World War 1, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra was predominantly composed of German trained musicians. This was also the case in many of the U.S. symphony orchestras, including New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Anne Mischakoff Heiles in her excellent book America's Concertmasters writes, quoting also from David Mann: '...Soon he [Mann] was asked to substitute at the Metropolitan Opera and at two Philharmonic concerts led by Anton Seidl. Rehearsals were conducted in German, and American musicians were a rarity - only three of the Philharmonic's hundred players!...' 34.
Joseph Horowitz in his book Classical music in America writes: '...A comparison of MET rosters for 1914-1915 and 1934-1935 (as found in the Metropolitan Opera Archives) shows that the earlier orchestra was by far more German than Italian. In 1934-1935, however, no fewer than fifty-three of eighty-five musicians on the permanent roster had incontestably Italian names...' 33.
So, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, much like most other leading U.S. orchestras following World War 1 was made up of progressively more and more musicians of Italian and French as well as Russian training. Similarly, following World War 2, and until today, these orchestras have included more and more American-trained musicians, coming out of the dozens of leading U.S. conservatories. The fact of two massive World Wars devastated Europe in the first half of the Twentieth Century, and the rapid growth of U.S. conservatories such as the Curtis Institute, the Juilliard, Peabody, New England Conservatory, the music department of Indiana University, and many others all contributed to these changes.
These changes have continued to evolve until today, most U.S. orchestras, including the MET, are made up primarily of American-trained musicians, with a flavoring of European and increasingly Asian and Latin American trained musicians.
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'.
In the profiles below, for consistency and clarity, I usually use the title 'Principal', even if the title was not yet used at that time.
The Concertmaster title: Given the heavy performance load of an opera orchestra such as the Metropolitan, the orchestra has usually had 'assistant' or 'associate' Concertmasters to share the extensive performance workload. As a result of James Levine's policies regarding the Orchestra, starting in 1980, the musician's workload was reduced to 4 days a week, raising standards and also requiring the hiring of many added musicians. This also resulted in the new position of an additional Concertmaster. Guy Lumia was the first of these added Concertmasters in 1984, alternating with Raymond Gniewek (who was Concertmaster for 43 years, 1957-2000).
Anne Mischakoff Heiles is a violist and gifted author of America's Concertmasters 6, and Mischa Mischakoff: Journeys of a Concertmaster (biography of her father). In America's Concertmasters, her research demonstrates the difficulties of tracing all the musicians - even the concertmasters - of the Metropolitan Opera. She states (page 281) "...It is telling that a company with an excellent archive of material about its singers and conductors lacks adequate records of its earlier orchestra members." This is particularly striking, given the many famous musicians who graced the pit of the Metropolitan Opera house. Anne Mischakoff Heiles' research, however, is able to document most of the history of the first chair of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, which is the source of much of the information displayed below.
The "Signor Ciofi" or Mr. Ciofi listed in pay records records for the Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in its first season according to Anne Mischakoff Heiles 7 excellent research, but with no first name. This is an example of the lack of detailed records regarding the Metropolitan orchestra members, as contrasted with the more detailed records as to the opera singers. The name of Ciofi would suggest a native Italian from the Neapolitan or Sicilian area, where it is said the surname originated. However, no specific information about this violinist is yet known to me.
Nahan Franko was born in New Orleans July 23, 1861 into a large musical family (11 children). His family lost all during the Civil War, the father, Hamman Franko being an ardent Confederate supporter. Hamman Franco and his wife Helene Bergman Franko were German Jews who emigrated to Texas. The original family name for Hamman Franco, a jeweler, was Hollander, a leading German Jewish family which also produced a number of musicians. In 1864, following the occupation of New Orleans by Union forces, and Hamman's finances being threatened, the Franko family relocated to Germany, Nahan Franko and his brother Sam Franko (1857-1937) studied with Heinrich Karl Hermann de Ahna (1835-1892) in Berlin - probably at the Berlin Akademische Hochschule für Musik where de Ahna taught under Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) direction. Nahan's sister, Jeanne, was a pianist. The Franko family returned to New York in 1869. Later, both Nahan and Sam Franko returned to Berlin for further study with Joachim and August Wilhelmj (1845-1908). Nahan Frank began as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, according to Heiles 7 probably in 1883. He of course did not play at the MET when it was closed 1897 - 1898. Also, he did not play there in the 1904 - 1905 season after a disagreement with the conductor of the German repertoire Alfred Hertz (Hertz was later the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony). As was the practice of that era when musicians sought constant work, Nahan Franko also seems to have at least sometimes acted as Concertmaster of the New York Symphony during this MET period. Franko conducted more than 100 performances of the Metropolitan Opera in the first decade of the 1900s, including the series of Sunday evening orchestral concerts. During the 1910s and 1920s, Nahan Franko also lead the 'Franko Orchestra' at concerts and social occasions. Nahan Franko died in Amityville, New York on June 7, 1930 subsequent to a stroke.
Carlos Enrique Frederico Auguste Hasselbrink was born on July 23 or 24, 1858 24 in Barranquilla, Columbia of a French father, Charles Hasselbrink and Cuban mother, Leocadia Muraillat. Carlos Hasselbrink grew up in Cuba, where he studied violin before going to France to study under the Belgian-born violinist, teacher and composer Hubert Leonard (1819-1890). Hasselbrink emigrated to the U.S. in 1880. In 1884 he was Concertmaster with the New York Symphony, and apparently, according to Anne Mischakoff Heiles, also Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera. (From 1883 to 1891, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra was made up primarily of musicians of the New York Symphony.) Hasselbrink was active as a concert musician in New York in 1894. Hasselbrink later taught at the Institute of Musical Art (the predecessor of Juilliard) in New York City 1906-1932. In 1928, Carlos Hasselbrink moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut where he died on October 4, 1946.
Carlos Hasselbrink in 1888
Max Guhlke, born in New York in 1879, was listed to replace Nahan Franko in 1904 as Concertmaster, following 10 years of study in Germany, but Guhlke killed himself on October 27, 1904. Newspaper accounts at the time said he "...ended his life with a revolver shot. It was joy and not sorrow that overcame him...For one hour before, he had received a telegram from Nahan Franko, conductor of the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra, welcoming him home from his studies in Germany and ordering him to report for rehearsal as first violin of the famous orchestra..." 8
Max Bendix was born in March 28, 1866 in Detroit, Michigan. Max Bendix had a long relationship with Theodore Thomas, joining the Thomas orchestra at the Cincinnati May Festival in 1878, when Bendix was only 12 6. In 1880, he became Concertmaster of the Cincinnati Orchestra under the conductor Maratsek (a musician whom I have not been able to identify) 6. In about 1883-1884, Bendix was Concertmaster of the Germania Orchestra of Philadelphia. In 1885-1886, still only 19, Bendix was a first violin in Anton Seidl's first season as conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Also in the 1885-1886 season, Max Bendix was Concertmaster of the Arion Society of New York, a choral and orchestral society at that time conducted by Frank Van der Stucken. In about 1886-1887, Max Bendix toured as Concertmaster with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra 6. This was at least his second professional collaboration with Theodore Thomas. Max Bendix spent the year 1889 studying in Europe, and in 1890 again was Concertmaster of the Thomas orchestra at the Cincinnati May Festive. Then, when in the Autumn of 1891 Theodore Thomas created the first season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (then called the "Chicago Orchestra"), Thomas again selected Max Bendix as his Concertmaster. In 1893, Chicago organized the World's Columbian Exposition, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. According to the Thomas biography written by Charles Edward Russell, 7, Theodore Thomas did not want to become Music Director of the Exposition, given his bad experiences in Philadelphia in 1876, but reluctantly accepted. The Thomas misgivings proved well-founded, and after months of internecine politics at the Exposition, Thomas finally resigned in August, 1893 7. It seems that the Chicago Orchestra did continue to perform at the Exposition after Theodore Thomas's resignation, but now under the leadership of Max Bendix. It would seem that Theodore Thomas resented this. In any case, Max Bendix had the reputation of being a difficult and sensitive artist, and there were a series of confrontations between the two men during Bendix's tenure with the Chicago Orchestra, in spite of Thomas's efforts to mollify Max Bendix. Finally, Max Bendix did not return to the Chicago orchestra in the 1896-1897 season. The New York Times on September 18, 1896, in an article apparently based on the Bendix view, reported "...the breach between the old friends [Theodore Thomas and Max Bendix], which began when Bendix took charge of the orchestra when Thomas left it in a huff, during the World's Fair, has gradually widened, and this year, Bendix was not given a renewal of his contract. Arthur Mees of New York will be assistant conductor in his place, and will be billed as such - an honor Mr. Thomas never accorded to Bendix." In 1897-1898, Max Bendix made a U.S. transcontinental tour with Eugčne Ysa˙e (1858-1931), violin, Henri Marteau (1874-1934), violin, Jean Gerardy (1877-1929), cello, Aimé Lachaume (1877-1944), piano. Bendix was also active in chamber music, forming in 1899 the Bendix String Quartet: Max Bendix first, Eugene Boegner second, Ottokar Novacek viola, Leo Schulz cello 117.
The turbulent career of Bendix also included extensive conducting. He conducted the St. Louis World's Fair orchestra in 1904. Bendix became Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1904 -1905 season under Van der Stucken. Max Bendix also conducted at the Metropolitan Opera starting in 1905. In 1907, in yet another shift, Bendix went to the rival Manhattan Opera Company as Concertmaster and assistant conductor, under the Music Director Cleofonte Campanini (1860-1919), where he conducted the Sunday night orchestral concerts. Max Bendix also conducted an orchestra briefly in San Francisco. At the end of the San Francisco Symphony 1918-1919 season under Music Director Alfred Hertz, there was reported dissention by some San Francisco Symphony musicians, who organized the 'People's Philharmonic Orchestra' 70. They invited Nikolai Sokoloff (1886-1965) to be their conductor. This group played during the summer of 1919, but meanwhile, the San Francisco Orchestra directors raised money and hired new musicians to replace the defectors. The People's Philharmonic Orchestra tried to continue with Max Bendix as their conductor, presenting popular concerts in San Francisco, but eventually failed 70. Max Bendix died in Chicago December 6, 1945, age 79 after an eventful career, having played a pioneering role in the development and expansion of US orchestras.
a poor quality 1916 passport photograph of Eugene Boegner
Eugene Boegner (or Eugen Bögner) was born March 3, 1870 in Strehlen, at that time in Prussia, Germany, and now at the southwest boarder of Poland. Boegner emigrated to the U.S. in September, 1891 to join Theodore Thomas in the inaugural 1891-1892 season of the Chicago Orchestra. Eugene Boegner played in the first violin section of the Theodore Thomas Chicago Orchestra (the Chicago Symphony) for six seasons, 1891 - 1897. Also in the 1890s, Boegner joined Bernard Listemann in the Listemann String Quartet, consisting of Listemann, first violin, Bruno Kuehn, second, Eugene Boegner (1870- ) viola, and Bruno Steindel, cello. Kuehn, Boegner, and Steindel were at that time all colleagues in the Chicago Orchestra. Eugene Boegner then joined the first violins of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, under the leadership of Nahan Franko in the 1897-1898 season. Boegner remained as a first violin until the 1910-1911 season, when he was appointed Concertmaster. Eugene Boegner continued in the Concertmaster chair for four seasons until the end of the 1913-1914 season. Continuing with his chamber music career, shortly after joining the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Boegner became a member of the Morgan Quartet, consisting of Geraldine Morgan, first, Eugene Boegner, second, Fritz Schaefer, viola, and Paul Morgan, cello. Geraldine Morgan studied in Europe with several of the same teachers as Maud Powell (1867-1920), including Joseph Joachim (1831-1907). This quartet continued at least until the 1900-1901 season. Eugene Boegner became a U.S. citizen in 1904. He returned to Germany in the summer of 1916, with no subsequent record of his musical activity in the U.S. thereafter. So, he may have remained in Germany during World War 1 and thereafter.
Gino Nastrucci in 1922, with wife Emilia, and daughters Anna Marie and Geraldine
Gino Nastrucci was born in Busseto, near Parma in the north of Italy on January 18, 1879. Gino Nastrucci’s father, Francisco, was a violin teacher in Busseto, which also was Verdi’s home town. From 1904-1913, Gino Nastrucci was Concertmaster at La Scala, Milan, first under Toscanini (1898 – 1908) and then under Tullio Serafin (1909 – 1914) 21,22. Toscanini, who was at the Metropolitan Opera from 1908-1915 invited Gino Nastrucci to come to the Metropolitan Orchestra in 1913. Nastrucci was a long-time friend of Toscanini, and Sacchi says that Nastrucci was 'always cheerful, always joking' 21. Gino Nastrucci came to the U.S. in September, 1913. The Musician’s Union agreed to waive the 6 months waiting period, and Nastrucci joined the orchestra in November for the 1913-1914 season as Concertmaster 22. 1914-1915 was Toscanini’s last season at the Met. Nastrucci served as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for eight seasons. Nastrucci also played with the New York Symphony during their European Tour of France, Italy Belgium, Netherlands, and England in May and June of 1920. Gino Nastrucci also performed with Metropolitan Opera conductor Artur Bodanzky at the New York 'Friends of Music' concerts. In about 1924, Gino Nastrucci seems to have returned to Italy, and performed in Europe. From 1925-1927, Nastrucci seems to have served as a musician on Italian cruise ships on a series of crossings of the Atlantic. In 1927 Nastrucci is listed as conducting in Wiesbaden, Germany. From about 1930, Gino Nastrucci had returned to conduct at La Scala Milan. From 1927 into the early 1930s Nastrucci made a number of operatic recordings with La Scala forces.
Leopold Kramer circa 1909
Leopold Kramer was born in 1870 in Prague, then part of Austria. He studied at the Prague Conservatory, and after graduating in about 1890, became Concertmaster of the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne, Germany. Kramer was then Concertmaster of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw 1892-1894. Leopold Kramer was also, perhaps just before coming to Chicago, the Concertmaster of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. In 1897, Leopold Kramer came to Chicago to join Theodore Thomas's Chicago Symphony. In November, 1909, after Theodore Thomas's death (in 1906), with Frederick Stock now Music Director, Kramer became angry at remarks made by Stock. Leopold Kramer then impulsively quit the Orchestra. Kramer quickly regretted his action and tried to retract his resignation, but it was too late. Kramer then moved to the Chicago Grand Opera. Later, Leopold Kramer became Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic for one season, 1913-1914. As was the practice of European musicians in that era, Kramer returned to Europe during the summer of 1914. Apparently, he was blocked from returning to New York, because of the outbreak of World War 1. Leopold Kramer was replaced at New York Philharmonic as Concertmaster by Maximilian Pilzer. Leopold Kramer was later Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for one season, 1922-1923. Established in New York City, Leopold Kramer taught at the Institute for Musical Arts (later renamed Juilliard) 1920-1924. In the summer of 1924, Kramer returned to Prague to teach, where he lived at least until 1936.
Pierre Henrotte in about 1939
Pierre Henrotte was born August 23, 1883 in Liege, Belgium, and came to the U.S. in 1907 at age 24. Henrotte was Concertmaster of the Chicago Opera in 1916 - 1923. Henrotte was active in the 'Maverick Concerts' (as was Georges Barrčre) held in the summers in Woodstock in the New York Catskills region, organizing the programs from 1916 - 1926. At the Maverick Concerts, Henrotte was also active in the Maverick String Quartet: Pierre Henrotte first, Leon Barzir second, Henry Michaux viola, and Silvio Lavatelli cello. In 1919, Henrotte joined the New York Chamber Music Society. Henrotte was Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera 1923-1936, except for the 1925-1926 season, when Eugene Dubois replaced him. During this 1925-1926 season, Henrotte was Concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony, but was unhappy there, and returned to the Metropolitan Opera beginning with the 1926 - 1927 season. Pierre Henrotte also conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for special concerts, and later at the Curtis Institute also instructed in conducting and solfčge. He died in St. Augustine, Florida on January 1, 1974.
Eugene Dubois was born in Montreal, Canada of Belgian parents on July 22, 1892. He studied violin at the Brussels Conservatory. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1908. He became Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera in 1925. The next season, after the Metropolitan Opera, Dubois was Concertmaster of the Chicago Opera from 1926. He also lead summer concerts at New York Lewisohn Stadium concerts. In the 1930s, Dubois was Concertmaster of the Columbia Broadcasting house orchestra. Dubois returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Concertmaster during World War 2, 1944 - 1945, when the younger musicians were at war. He also played with the NBC Symphony under Toscanini. Dubois taught at the University of Miami beginning in the 1950s. Eugene Dubois died in Miami March 22, 1983, age 90.
Stefan Frenkel when entering the MET Orchestra
Stefan Frenkel was born in Warsaw, Poland November 21 1902. In Warsaw, Frenkel studied violin with his uncle Maurice Frenkel. Frenkel then studied in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik 1919-1921 with Adolf Busch and Karl Flesch. Frenkel, along with Szymon Goldberg was Concertmaster of the Dresden Philharmonic 1924-1927 under Eduard Mörike 83. While in Dresden, Frenkel was particularly active in contemporary music, giving premieres of works by Suk (the Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra) and Hindemith. Frenkel was a particular friend Kurt Weill, and in 1927, gave the premiere of Weill's Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra. In 1929 in Dresden, Frenkel gave the premiere of the Weill Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra. With the Nazi rise to power, Frenkel left for Switzerland where he became concertmaster of L'Orchestra de la Suisse Romande in Geneva. In 1936, Frenkel moved to New York City, where he became Principal Concertmaster 1936-1940. Frenkel became a US citizen in 1944. Frenkel was particularly known for his violin arrangement of the 'Mack the Knife' and other music from Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. Frenkel was also particularly at ease with modern and contemporary music. Later, in the late 1950s, Frenkel was also Concertmaster at the Santa Fe Opera in off-seasons. From 1964-1968, Frenkel taught violin at Princeton University in New Jersey. Stefan Frenkel died in New York on March 1, 1979.
Michael Rosenker was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 23, 1895. As a youth, Rosenker studied with Pyotr Stoliarsky (1871-1944) in Odessa, (at that time) Russia. He then enrolled in the St. Petersburg conservatory to study with Sergei Korguyev (1863-1932), who was the teacher of Mischa Mischakoff. But when Rosenker learned that Leopold Auer would accept him, he decided to transfer. Anne Mischakoff Heiles in her wonderful book America's Concertmasters. tells the story:
'...Korguyev was enraged and told Rosenker, 'You're not leaving for Auer; I'm throwing you out !...' 80.
Rosenker studied with Auer in Vienna for three years, and also played in the Vienna Volksoper. In 1917, Rosenker toured Asia, and too this opportunity to leave the Soviet Union. He awaited the arrival of his daughter, and then Rosenker came to the U.S. in 1922. Upon his arrival in New York City, he played violin with Erno Rapée's (1891-1945) Capital Theater Orchestra, sitting next to Concertmaster Eugene Ormandy 80. During the late 1920s and into the 1930s, Michael Rosenker continued as violinist in theater orchestras, and the NBC radio staff orchestra, which were desirable positions, offering year-around employment (not the case with even the major symphony orchestras, then). Michael Rosenker was Concertmaster of the MET Orchestra for two seasons, 1940-1942. In 1940, Rosenker also performed the U.S. premiere of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Violin Sonata with the composer. Then, in the 1942-1943 season, Michael Rosenker joined the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner for one season. Reiner called Rosenker 'the Rock of Gibraltar' 77 and evidently appreciated him. Rosenker got along with Fritz Reiner, whom he also admired, but was quickly hired away by the New York Philharmonic.  In the 1943-1944 season, Rosenker became Associate Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, where he remained until the end of the 1961-1962 season. Interestingly, Michael Rosenker shows up with John Corigliano Sr. and several other NY Philharmonic musicians in the 1947 film 'Carnegie Hall'. Michael Rosenker became Concertmaster again, with the Baltimore Symphony for two seasons, 1962-1964 and then in Tokyo with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony during the 1966-1967 season. In the late 1960s, Rosenker moved to California, where he was Concertmaster with the Monterey Symphony 1967-1968. However, Rosenker had a falling out with with the Monterey conductor (now long forgotten) Jan De Jong, which resulted in both leaving the orchestra. Michael Rosenker died in Carmel, California, on December 16, 1996 at age 101.
1942-1944 Hugo Kolberg
Hugo Kolberg was born in Warsaw, Poland on August 29, 1898. As a youth, Kolberg was a violin prodigy, beginning studies at age 5, and playing as a child for the King Alfonso XIII of Spain 75. Kolberg was later a student of Bronislaw Huberman76. In 1921, age only 19, Hugo Kolberg became Concertmaster of the Oslo Philharmonic. He then was Concertmaster of Paris and Copenhagen orchestras. In about 1931, Hugo Kolberg was appointed Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, alternating as Concertmaster with the great Szymon Goldberg (1909-1993). In 1934, after being Concertmaster for five seasons, Szymon Goldberg resigned from the Berlin Philharmonic in part due to Nazi pressure, and ironically Hugo Kolberg, not Jewish but married to a Jewish wife, was appointed sole Concertmaster. With the ascension of the Nazi government, political control became more and more dominant in the policies of the Berlin Philharmonic. Consequently, Hugo Kolberg and his wife Rosa left Germany and relocated to England in 1938. Kolberg then came to the U.S. in January, 1939. Hugo Kolberg became Concertmaster of the Pittsburg Symphony under Fritz Reiner in the 1940-1941 season. Fritz Reiner, always demanding was said to have had a particular appreciation for the musicianship of Kohlberg. The next year, Kohlberg was Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra for one season 1941-1942, the last full Cleveland season Artur Rodzinski, who departed for New York in December, 1942. Kohlberg reportedly left Cleveland following a salary dispute 77. Hugo Kolberg was replaced at Cleveland the next season by another former Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster (1925-1926) under Wilhelm Furtwängler, Tossy Spivakovsky . During the next two seasons, 1942-1944, Hugo Kolberg was Concertmaster of the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera. It is said that his recommendation came from Fritz Reiner. Hugo Kolberg then returned to the Pittsburgh Symphony as Concertmaster under Reiner for three seasons, 1946-1949. Kolberg was later Concertmaster of the Lyric Theatre of Chicago (The Chicago Opera). After 35 years as a concertmaster of leading orchestras in Europe and the U.S., Hugo Kolberg retired and devoted his activities to teaching. In the 1950s, Kohlberg was head of the violin department at the Chicago Musical College 76. His teaching continued until 18 months prior to his death, when Kolberg was teaching at Juniata College in central Pennsylvania, and making solo appearances with local orchestras 75. Hugo Kolberg died in Hempstead, Long Island, New York on February 27, 1979, age 80.
In the 1948-1949 season, Victor Aitay was second Concertmaster of the MET Orchestra.
Felix Eyle with his Guadagnini violin which had belonged to Mahler's niece and Arnold Rosé's wife Alma Rosé.
Felix Eyle was born in Lvov, Poland (now in the Ukraine) in 1899. Felix Eyle studied violin at the Vienna Academy of Music and the Performing Arts. He was a student of Arnold Rosé, long-time Concertmaster of the Berlin Opera Orchestra and later of the Vienna Court Opera. Eyle was a violinist with the Vienna Opera, and its subset, the Vienna Philharmonic. In 1928, Eyle emigrated to the United States in 1928. Felix Eyle was first violinist of the Buxbaum Quartet. Recruited by Artur Rodzinski, Felix Eyle became Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra for twelve seasons, 1933-1945. During this period, Eyle also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music79.  Then, beginning in the 1945-1946 season at the time of the disruption of the Cleveland Orchestra during its search for a Music Director and the World War 2 turnover of orchestra musicians, Eyle was appointed Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Eyle was the Metropolitan orchestra manager from 1957 until he retired in 1970. For more than a decade, and into his mid-eighties, Felix Eyle taught violin at Colgate University, in Hamilton, New York 1973 - 1986, and died from a heart attack in Hamilton on July 5, 1988 78.
Raymond Gniewek was born in November, 1931 in East Meadow, Long Island, New York. He studied at the Eastman School of Music, where Max Rudolf who was at that time an assistant manager at the MET worked with Gniewek. Max Rudolf also advised Gniewek of the Concertmaster opening at the MET. When in 1957 Raymond Gniewek was selected as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, he was at age 25, the youngest Orchestra musician. Also, often the press said Gniewek 'the first American-born concertmaster', (or perhaps the second, 75 years after Nahan Franko). Gniewek was quickly both popular and respected by the public and his colleagues. It is said that during his career with the Metropolitan Opera, Gniewek led some 115 different opera scores. Gniewek married Metropolitan Opera star soprano Judith Blegen (1941 - ) in 1977. After 43 years at the MET, Raymond Gniewek retired in May, 2000, but remains active. He taught at the Tanglewood Music Center and the youth of the Verbier Festival Youth Orchestra in Switzerland. Invited by Seiji Ozawa, Raymond Gniewek was also Concertmaster of Tokyo Opera no Mori Orchestra each Spring during the mid-2000s. Admired by James Levine, with whom Gniewek played for 29 seasons, Levine told New York Times writer Anthony Tommasini '...The single luckiest thing that happened to me since I have been at the Met is that Ray Gniewek was the concertmaster.' In the same article, Gniewek explained part of his art: '...It's my job to make technical translations of the desired sound. And you have to show, not tell, because the same words can mean different things to different people.' 42 Following his decision to retire from the MET, Gniewek agreed to remain an additional season to assure the smooth transition to his successor Concertmaster, Nick Eanet. After 43 seasons leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Raymond Gniewek made a lasting impact on the qualities of the orchestra. Working closely with James Levine, and particularly during the period from about 1980-1996, a very fine opera orchestra was transformed into a group equal to the world's leading symphony orchestras.
James Levine, during the 1980s introduced policies that would result in a reduction of the massive workload of the string sections of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. One result of this was the appointment of Guy Lumia in the 1984-1985 season as Concertmaster, which would allow Lumia and Raymond Gniewek to alternate. It is said that Gniewek would play at most of the Operas directed by James Levine.
Guy Lumia was born in 1937 in New York City of Italian heritage parents. Lumia began studying violin at age seven. In 1948, Guy Lumia was accepted to study at the Brooklyn Academy of Music 46. In 1952, Guy Lumia began studies at the Eastman School of Music, with Andre de Ribaupierre and Joseph Knitzer, where he graduated with honors, gaining both his bachelors and masters degrees, along with Performer's Certificate and Artist's Diploma. He also studied with Raphael Bronstein at the Mannes School of Music in New York City 46. In the 1950s, Guy Lumia was a member of the first violin section of the Rochester Philharmonic, while at Eastman. From 1952-1966, Lumia was also active with the Greenwich Piano Quartet. Other chamber music activity in the 1960s was the Long Island Chamber Ensemble. In 1961, Lumia was a Fulbright Scholar studying with Rene Benedetti in Paris. Luria was a finalist in the Paganini Violin Competition in Genoa, and the semi-finalist in the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow 45. Lumia later studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He studied further with Yehudi Menuhin in London. Lumia was Concertmaster of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. In the early 1970s, Lumia toured Europe as a soloist. In 1973, Lumia joined the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut) as Professor of violin. In the 1984-1885 season, Lumia was selected as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he alternated with Raymond Gniewek. Lumia continued with the MET Orchestra for four seasons. Then, tragically, Guy Lumia died in New York City on May 18, 1988, age only 51 as a result of complications of type 1 diabetes.
Elmira Darvarova was born in Bulgaria and began violin studies at age 3. She studied violin at the Music High School of Plovdiv, Bulgaria (150 km east of Sofia). Her next studies were at the Sofia Conservatory with degrees at both the university Baccalaureate and Masters levels. Elmira Darvarova was a prize winner at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 1977 Jascha Heifetz granted Darvarova a scholarship to study with him in the U.S. but she failed to gain a visa from the Bulgarian government. Darvarova did gain a scholarship to study at the Guildhall School in London, where she earned a Performer's Certificate. Later, Darvarova studied with Henryk Szeryng at the Geneva Conservatory. Darvarova then studied violin at Indiana University with the famous teacher and former Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, Josef Gingold, where she earned an Artist Diploma. Elmira Darvarova was subsequently Concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic. After the death of Guy Lumia, two musicians of Bulgarian background, Elmira Darvarova and Konstantin Stoianov were successively Concertmasters of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. As such, Elmira Darvarova was first woman ever to be Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera. (Also, one of the very few female Concertmasters any of the great orchestras, such as Albena Danailova, recently appointed Concertmaster of the Vienna Staatsoper Orchestra/Vienna Philharmonic, or Emmanuelle Boisvert, Concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony.) When Konstantin Stoianov became Concertmaster in 1993, Elmira Darvarova became Associate Concertmaster of the Orchestra. Elmira Darvarova was for thirteen seasons 1990-2003 the Concertmaster of the Grant Park Symphony, the summer festival orchestra in Chicago. She resigned this position in June, 2003. Elmira Darvarova is the founder and the Artistic Director of the highly-regarded New York Chamber Music Festival. Elmira Darvarova is married to Howard Wall , fourth horn of the New York Philharmonic March 1994-present, and who also was a featured player in the great horn section of the Philadelphia Orchestra for nineteen seasons 1975-1994.
Konstantin Stoianov was born in 1961 in Varna, Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. Stoianov and his family subsequently relocated to Belgium. From age 9, he studied at the Antwerp Conservatory, and later in Berlin. He was Concertmaster of the Flanders Royal Philharmonic. In September, 1983, Stoianov placed second in the Rodolfo Lipizer Violin Competition in Italy. Beginning in 1990, Stoianov became Co-Concertmaster of the London Philharmonic. Stoianov also conducted the London Philharmonic for some concerts and recordings. In 1993, Konstantin Stoianov became the first violin of the London-based Gabrieli String Quartet (many will recall the first violin when the Gabrieli started: Kenneth Sillito. In that year, Stoianov was also selected as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. After leaving the MET Orchestra in 1999, Stoianov returned to the UK, where he began to conduct more frequently.
Nick Eanet was born in Brooklyn, New York in March, 1972, and his early violin training was with Nicole DiCecco. Nick Eanet was admitted to the Juilliard pre-college program in 1984 at age 12 where he studied first with Dorothy DeLay. Then in the Juilliard college program, he studed with Robert Mann, at that time the first violin with the Juilliard String Quartet (founded in 1946 with Mann as first violin). Throughout his career, Eanet has been active in chamber music. Following graduation from Juilliard in 1994, Nick Eanet was for six years first violin of the Mendelssohn String Quartet. He has also been active in music festivals throughout his career, including the Mostly Mozart Festival - New York, the Sante Fe Chamber Music Festival - New Mexico, the Aspen Music Festival - Colorado, Maui Chamber Music Festival - Hawaii, and the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat Springs - Colorado. Upon the departure of Konstantin Stoianov as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Nick Eanet was appointed Concertmaster for the 1999-2000 season. During the Eanet's first season as Concertmaster, Raymond Gniewek remained for one additional season to assure a smooth transition. Then, in 2009, Joel Smirnoff, first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet for the previous 12 years departed to become President of the Cleveland Institute of Music. This led to Nick Eanet being invited to tour with the Juilliard String Quartet. After playing with his quartet colleagues, during the Summer of 2009, Nick Eanet agreed to became the latest first violin of the Juilliard String Quartet, the chair previously held by his teacher Robert Mann. Joel Smirnoff had succeeded founding violinist Robert Mann in 1997, so Nick Eanet was the third lead violin of the Juilliard Quartet since its creation in 1946.
Nick Eanet, Ronald Copes, Joel Krosnick, Samuel Rhodes - The Juilliard String Quartet in 2009
However, after two seasons with the Juilliard String Quartet, Nick Eanet had, reluctantly, to withdraw due to health reasons which made it impractical for him to tour. However, the good news from this was that in the 2011-2012 season, Nick Eanet was able to return to the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera as Concertmaster, to the welcome of his orchestra colleagues and his many MET fans.
David Chan, born in San Diego, California in May, 1973. His parents came from Taiwan and met as graduate students at Stanford University 81. His parents encouraged him to study violin from an early age. David Chan studied at Harvard, receiving his Bachelor's degree. At the Juilliard School, he went on to earn his Master's degree, where he studied with Dorothy DeLay (1917-2002). At Juilliard, Chan also studied violin with Hyo Kang (1950- ). Chan was bronze medalist in the 1994 Indianapolis International Violin Competition 82. Chen joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1998-1999 season, initially as alternate Concertmaster. Then, in the 200-2001 season, Chen advanced to the Concertmaster chair. Chan made his Carnegie Hall debut under James Levine in the 2002-2003 with the Brahms Double Concerto with cellist Rafael Figueroa. David Chan has also been active in music festivals, including the Pacific Music Festival - Japan, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and the La Jolla SummerFest in California. David Chan married another MET violinist, Catherine Ro, so a Metropolitan family. Chan has been active in teaching, including at his alma mater, Juilliard since 2006.
Josef Pasternack was born in Czestochowa in the south of Poland on July 1, 1878 (probably not 1880 or 1881 given in other sources). His was a musical family, with his grandfather and his father Sigmund Pasternack, with whom Josef first studied both being bandmasters. Pasternack studied violin as a youth. He then studied piano and composition at the Warsaw Conservatory. He later said that at the conservatory, he had studied most of the instruments of the orchestra sufficiently to play each instrument. Pasternack emigrated to the US in 1896 first to the New York City area, becoming a citizen in 1901. In New York, he played in hotel and theater orchestras. In the 1902-1903 season, he joined the violin section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He was later advanced to the Principal viola position, perhaps as early as 1903-1904. Beginning in 1904, Josef Pasternack began performing in recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company in their New York and Camden recording "laboratories" as they were then called by Victor. Josef Pasternack viola section of the Metropolitan Opera in 1909, but it seems that he may have continued to conduct the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 115. In 1916, Pasternack began working more intensively with Victor. In 1916, Josef Pasternack joined the staff of the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey, where he was a conductor and also contracted for musicians to play in various Victor ensembles. Josef Pasternack became Music Director of Victor in about 1920, responsibilities he shared with Rosario Bourdon (1885-1961). At Victor, he was a prolific recording artist, recording with Emilio de Gogorza, Louise Homer, Enrico Caruso, and conducting the Victor Orchestra in many recordings. Also in the 1920s, Pasternack stated that he had conducted the Chicago Symphony and Boston Symphony, but without giving details 115. Beginning in 1928, Josef Pasternack conducted the NBC radio staff musicians in New York City, with concerts broadcast right up to his early death at age 61. Josef Pasternack died in Chicago on May 2, 1940.
Some notes on the Principal viola position. Albino DiJanni was Principal viola until 1936. In a blind audition in 1936, John A. DiJanni, Albino's son took over as Principal viola from his father in 1936, which he continued until 1975. John DiJanni later in his career became the MET Orchestra Manager until 1975, when he retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico
David Berkowitz, long-time violist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra tells an amusing 1936 story of auditioning for the MET orchestra 9 "...I overheard the conductors saying...’elder DiJanni was still the best. We must in all fairness re-engage him as first viola’. Then came the next choice. Who would be assistant and sit with him at the first stand? They said that the young DiJanni sounded very well…and decided to seat him to share the stand with his father. Well it so happened they were mistaken. The one they thought was Albino DiJanni was John and vice versa. So they reversed the decision and John become first violin, and the father Albino, was seated next to him..." Perhaps an apocryphal story, but amusing all the same.
Albino DiJanni was born in Naples, Italy on July 15, 1888. Albino DiJanni was said by David Berkowitz to have been a viola player at La Scala, Milan. Albino DiJanni emigrated to the U.S. in 1906, and in 1909, married Regina DiJanni who had been born in New York City in 1893 of Italian heritage parents. In New York, Albino DiJanni was at first a musician in a New York hotel orchestra. Albino DiJanni was appointed Principal viola in about 1930. Albino DiJanni was first desk partner with his son for nine seasons, 1939-1944 50. Albino DiJanni retired from the Metropolitan Opera at the end of the 1943-1944 season.
John DiJanni in New Mexico, 1980s
John DiJanni was born in New York City in November 23, 1909, son of Metropolitan Opera Principal viola Albino DiJanni and his wife Regina. John DiJanni joined the Metropolitan Opera viola section in the 1931-1932 season 49. Then, four seasons later, as the result of a reseating competition, John DiJanni took the Principal viola chair, and his father, Albino became his stand partner in the second viola chair, as described in the interesting David Berkowitz story recounted above. John DiJanni remained Principal viola of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 39 seasons. John DiJanni's wife, Helen was a former MET Opera ballerina. John DiJanni was also a session recording musician in New York in the 1950s. Sir Rudolf Bing appointed John DiJanni Personnel Manager of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1969, and still retaining his Principal viola chair. During the Summers, 1960-1964. John DiJanni was viola of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. Beginning with the appointment of Michael Ouzounian as Associate Principal viola in August 1972, John DiJanni essentially withdrew from playing, and devoted his activities to his Personnel Manager responsibilities. After retiring from the MET in the Fall of 1976, John DiJanni and his wife Helen Rupp DiJanni moved to New Mexico, where he became Principal Viola of the Orchestra of Santa Fe 1976-1979. He played viola with the Santa Fe Symphony from 1981-1986. John DiJanni continued active into his eighties, playing with the Roswell (New Mexico) Symphony from 1987-1992. He also played played in the New Mexico Symphony and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival John DiJanni 1980-1985 taught viola at the University of New Mexico 49, 50. John DiJanni died in Santa Fe, New Mexico April 20, 2004, age 94.
Michael Ouzounian with Eugene Izotov, Principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Symphony
Michael Ouzounian was born in Detroit on April 3, 1951. In Detroit, Ouzounian studied with long-time Detroit violin teacher Ara Zerounian (1926- ), who trained several generations of orchestra musicians, including also Ani and Ida Kavafian. Ouzounian was a student of Nathan Gordon, Principal viola of the Detroit Symphony. Michael Ouzounian continued his studies at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. In Cleveland, Ouzounian studied with Abraham Skemick who was Principal viola with the Cleveland Orchestra 1949-1976. Michael Ouzounian also won the University of Michigan music prize in viola. In the late 1960s, Ouzounian studied with James Levine as part of the University Circle Orchestra in Cleveland, while Levine was Assistant to George Szell (1965-1970), the beginning of a long collaboration between Levine and Ouzounian. Michael Ouzounian joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Associate Principal viola in August 1972. However, Ouzounian was from his first day the de facto Principal, since John DiJanni concentrated on his responsibilities as Personnel Manager. At the 1980 Ravinia Festival, Michael Ouzounian gave concerts with cellist Lynn Harrell to excellent reviews. James Levine's performances with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in concerts lead to a series of successful recordings, including an acclaimed Strauss Don Quixote featuring Michael Ouzounian, with his colleagues Ray Gniewek and Jerry Grossman on Deutsche Grammophon. Michael Ouzounian is married to former MET Principal bassoon Patricia Rogers. Michael Ouzounian retired from the Metropolitan Opera at the end of the 2016-2017 season after 45 seasons of making fine music.
Milan Milisavljevic was born in Serbia, and studied in Europe and then at the Université de Montréal (2000). Prior to his appointment as Principal viola, Milan Milisavljevic was Assistant Principal of the MET for twelve seasons. He has also been active in music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival (Vermont), Cascade Head Music Festival (Oregon), Classical Tahoe Festival (Nevada), Agassiz Chamber Music Festival (Manitoba) and the Grand Teton Music Festival (Wyoming). In teaching, Milan Milisavljevic is on the viola faculty of the Mannes School of Music. He is also active as a conductor and founder of Music for the People, a New York-based ensemble active in providing a concert experience of classical music to the public, including youth.
Victor Herbert was born in Dublin in February 1, 1859. Victor's father Edward Herbert died when Victor was an infant, and subsequently, Victor and his mother Fanny Lover moved to London. Fanny then married a German physician, Carl Schmidt. In 1867, Victor joined his mother in their home in Stuttgart, Germany where he continued to receive a musical education, and studied cello with Bernhard Cossmann (1822-1910) in Baden-Baden as a teenager from about 1875-1878. Herbert then became a soloist and orchestra player. In about 1876, Victor Herbert entered the Stuttgart Conservatory for further study with Max Seifritz. Herbert graduated in 1879. In 1880, Victor Herbert was Principal cello for a year in the orchestra of Eduard Strauss in Vienna. In 1881, Herbert joined the Court Orchestra of Stuttgart, where he remained until 1886. In Stuttgart, he performed as a cello soloist, including in several of his early compositions. In 1885, he also began teaching cello at the Neuer Stuttgarter Musikschule, just established. On August 14, 1886, Victor Herbert married Therese Föster (1861-1927), of the Stuttgart Opera. Later that same year, 1886 the Metropolitan Opera Company hired Therese Herbert-Föster as Aida in the first U.S. production of the opera, and Herbert joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as first cellist. Together Therese and Victor Herbert decided to settle in the United States. Beginning in 1888, through his friend Anton Seidl, Victor Herbert worked with the New York Philharmonic, as an assistant conductor, and solo cello soloist. This continued for the next 11 seasons until the end of the 1897-1898 season (also the time of Anton Seidl's sudden death in March, 1898). Then, from 1898 to 1904 Victor Herbert was conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Victor Herbert was a prolific composer, including of 43 operettas, and two less successful grand operas. Although he is said to have appeared always in good health, Victor Herbert died suddenly of a heart attack on May 26, 1924, just after his final operetta, 'Dream Girl' began its pre-Broadway performances.
Paul Miersch was born on January 18, 1868 in Dresden, Germany. Miersch's early studies were at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Munich 116. Paul Miersch came to the US in 1887 and for three years 1888-1891 was a musician and teacher in Washington DC. While there, he was a musician in the Washington Musical Club. Paul Miersch was a cellist in the Bayreuth summer festival orchestra in 1891. He played with the New York Philharmonic Society in 1892-1893. The next season, he was Principal cello of the New York Symphony 1893-1894 where he remained for five seasons 1893-1898 116. He then joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Principal cello in the 1899-1900 season. Paul Miersch was Principal cello of the MET for at least eleven seasons until 1910. Paul Miersch was also a member of the New York Manuscript Society 1894-1900, in which new music by contemporary composers was performed, often from the composer's manuscript. The great violinist Maud Powell in 1904-1908 organized the Maud Powell String Quartet: Maud Powell first, Joseph Kovarik second, Franz Kaltenborn viola, and Paul Miersch cello 117. Paul Miersch was also an active composer of concerti and of chamber works. Paul Miersch died on March 1 1956 in New York City at age 88.
Julius Herner was born on 27 June 1866 in Hanover, Germany (although Germany was not yet unified). He studied first with his father, Karl Herner who was Kapellmeister of the Royal Court Theater in Hanover. Prior to joining the Metropolitan Opera in 1915, he was Principal cello with Oscar Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera Company. In 1920, following the Metropolitan Opera, Julius Herner relocated to Los Angeles where he was Prinicpal cello of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He died on December 13, 1950 in Los Angeles.
Letz Quartet 1921: Hans Letz first, Horace Britt cello, Edward Kreiner viola, Edwin Bachmann second
Horace Britt was born on June 18, 1881, in Antwerp, Belgium. Britt was a child prodigy, and grew up in Paris with his brother Roger (violin) and his sister Gaëtane (harp), under the supervision of their parents Ernst and Maria Britt. When Horace Britt was 6, his mother began his training in solfčge. He therefore learned to sight read before he took up an instrument. Horace studied cello, and his brother Roger Britt, the violin. Horace Britt returned to Antwerp to study cello Gustav Faes to prepare him for the Paris Conservatoire entrance examination 30. In November, 1892, at the age of 11, Horace Britt won entrance to the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with Jules Delsart 1892-1895. Britt won the Conservatoire cello Premier prix in 1895, at age 14, the youngest winner to that time 30 (his record was broken the next year by 13 year old Paul Bazelaire). Horace Britt was cello solo with the Lamoureux Orchestra in 1897, and with the Colonne Orchestra in 1898. Britt made his American debut with the Chicago Symphony (then the Theodore Thomas Orchestra) in 1907. At that time, Britt was Principal cello of the Chicago Symphony 1905-1907. Horace Britt's brother Roger was a first violin with the Philadelphia Orchestra 1918-1924. After Chicago, Horace Britt became Principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra for one season, 1907-1908. In the 1910s, Britt became Principal cello of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Horace Britt in the early 1920s was cello with the Hans Letz Quartet: Hans Letz first, Edwin Bachmann second (later of Toscanini's NBC Symphony), Edward Kreiner, viola (also later of Toscanini's NBC Symphony), Horace Britt cello. In 1924-1925 season, Horace Britt became Principal cello with the Minneapolis Symphony, under Henri Verbrugghen. During the 1925-1926 season, Horace Britt taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Horace Britt in the late 1920s performed with the Elman String Quartet: Mischa Elman first, Adolf Bak second, Karl Rissland viola, Horace Britt cello. The Elman Quartet also recorded for Victor records in 1927, and in the same year, was the first cellist to be recorded on a sound movie. In the 1940s, Horace Britt formed the Britt Trio. From 1947-1950, Britt was visiting Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and then joined the faculty. Britt continued at University of Texas 1950-1963, when he retired as Professor Emeritus, Horace Britt died in Austin, Texas on February 3, 1971, age 89.
Heinrich Warnke in 1913
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, he went to Leipzig where he played with the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Prior to Boston, Heinrich Warnke was first cello of the 'Kaim Orchestra' in Munich, predecessor to today's Munich Philharmonic from 1897-1905. 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, remaining with the Orchestra at least until 1931. Heinrich Warnke remained Principal cello of the Boston Symphony for eight seasons. At the end of the 1913-1914 season, perhaps due to the return of Karl Muck, Heinrich Warnke was replaced by Joseph Malkin as Principal cello. Warnke, however, remained with the Boston Symphony 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.
The Roentgen Trio, circa 1913: Engelbert Roentgen, cello, the composer Dr. Julius Röntgen, piano seated, and Julius Roentgen, violin
Engelbert Röntgen (I will use "Roentgen" hereafter) was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on August 12, 1886, son of Dr. Julius Röntgen (1855-1932) and Amanda Maier. Engelbert Roentgen studied cello with Isaac Mossel (1870-1923) in Amsterdam, and with Julius Klengel (1859-1933) in Leipzig. Engelbert's father, Dr. Julius Röntgen, born in Germany, but long-time Dutch citizen, was a professor of piano at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and active with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Julius Röntgen was also a prolific composer, including of 25 symphonies ! From 1906-1911, Engelbert Roentgen was Principal cello of the Tonhalle-Orchester of Zurich. Then, 1912-1914, he was Principal cello of the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra (Wiener Hofoper). In May, 1916, Engelbert Roentgen went to New York, where he was Principal cello of the New York Symphony for one season, 1916-1917 under Walter Damrosch. Engelbert's brother, Julius Roentgen was already in the U.S. where he succeeded Julius Theodorowicz as second violin with the Kneisel Quartet from 1907-1912. After the Kneisel Quartet, Julius Roentgen returned to the Netherlands to teach at the Rotterdam Conservatory 40.
In New York, Engelbert Roentgen also taught at the Mannes School of Music. Roentgen then went to the Minneapolis Symphony under Emil Oberhoffer in the 1917-1918 season, prior the the U.S. entrance into World War 1. Roentgen served with the U.S. Army medical group in France in 1918 (although his father Julius was still a German citizen). Engelbert Roentgen became a U.S. citizen in in 1919. Following his return from the war in 1919, Roentgen returned to the Minneapolis Symphony in 1919. He also toured with the New York Symphony in their Summer, 1920 European tour. Engelbert Roentgen remained as Principal cello, and occasional conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony until the end of the 1926-1927 season. While there, in 1922, he performed his father's cello concerto under Henri Verbrugghen 28. During his time in Minneapolis, Roentgen was a close friend of conductor Henri Verbrugghen.
1909 Kneisel Quartet: Franz Kneisel at left, Willem Willeke cello, standing
Louis Svecenski, viola, and Julius Roentgen second, at right.
Engelbert Roentgen then returned to New York City, where he joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as co-Principal in the 1928-1929 season in which year his father, Julius had an extended stay with him in New York City. Roentgen suffered a heart attack during the directorship of George Szell, and had to relinquish the Principal cello chair of the MET orchestra in the 1942-1943 season. Thereafter, Engelbert Roentgen remained at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the second chair until the end of the 1953-1954 season when he retired, age 68. He was a member of the New York Chamber Music Society. Following his retirement from the MET, Engelbert Roentgen returned to Europe with his wife, Helena Helffrich, at first in Lugano, Switzerland. Engelbert Roentgen then returned to the Netherlands, where he died in 's-Hertogenbosch ('Den Bosch') - 50 km east of Rotterdam - in 1958 in the hospital of his nephew Dr. Frithjof Röntgen 40.
Fritz Magg, cello
Fritz Magg was born in Vienna April 18, 1914. He studied in Berlin under Paul Grümmer (1879-1965) and at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris under Diran Alexanian (1881-1954). In 1934, he became the Principal cello of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1938, and became co-Principal cello of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1939. Fritz Magg remained with the MET Orchestra for eight season, leaving at the end of the the 1946-1947 season. Magg then in 1948 joined Indiana University music department, where Janos Starker also taught, and taught cello at IU for 36 years until 1984. The Berkshire String Quartet, of which Magg was cellist was quartet in residence at Indiana University, also. Magg was Cello Professor and Chair of the String Department at IU. He retired from Indiana University in 1984. Fritz Magg died in July, 1997 at the age of 83, having a heart attack while adjudicating at the Leonard Rose Cello Competition in Maryland.
János Starker at extreme right with Fritz Reiner conducting circa 1950
János Starker was born July 5, 1924 in Budapest, Hungary. He studied at the Budapest Franz Liszt Academy of Music and joined the Budapest Opera Orchestra and the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1948, after a year in Paris, he became Principal cello of the Dallas Symphony selected by the Dallas conductor Antal Dorati. When Dorati left Dallas at the end of the the 1948-1949 season for Minneapolis, he invited Janos Starker to join him in Minneapolis, which Starker accepted. However, Fritz Reiner at the MET invited Starker to visit him, which ended up with Starker being hired as Principal cello for the 1949-1950 season. Starker gave in his resignation to the MET Orchestra for the end of the 1952-1953 season. However, Fritz Reiner also left the Metropolitan for the Chicago Symphony end of 1952-1953 and Reiner took Starker with him to became Principal cello of the Chicago Symphony, beginning in 1953-1954. Janos Starker remained with the Chicago Symphony until he resigned to begin a new career as cello soloist in 1958.
Yves Chardon was born in Villier-sur-Marne, France just east of Paris on December 27, 1902. Chardon began cello studies at age six, and succeeded in the competition to attend the Paris Conservatoire. Yves Chardon gained his Premier prix in cello in 1918. Chardon then accepted a position in Greece. Chardon taught at the Athens Conservatoire - Greece . Yves Chardon then joined the Boston Symphony under Koussevitzky in 1928, where he remained for fifteen seasons, 1928-1943. In Boston, Yves Chardon founded the Chardon String Quartet: Norbert Lauga first, Clarence Knudson second, Jean Cauhapé viola, Yves Chardon cello. Following Boston, Yves Chardon relocated to Minnesota. While he was in Greece, in the 1920s, Yves Chardon and his wife Henriette de Constant met Dimitri Mitropoulos, which later led Chardon's later appointment at Minneapolis Principal cello and Henriette as Assistant Principal cello under Mitropoulos. Yves Chardon was Principal cello and associate conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony under Mitropoulos from 1946 until about 1950. Continuing his conducting, Chardon was onductor of the Havana Symphony in 1949, and then founded the Orlando Symphony - later the Central Florida Symphony in about 1950-1951. Returning to New York City, Yves Chardon was Alternate or Co-Principal cello of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra for 24 seasons, 1952-1976. Yves Chardon died in New Hampshire on March 6, 2000 after a rich and varied career at age 97.
Jascha Silberstein was born in Poland in 1934 and grew up in Switzerland. His musician mother instructed him in piano from an early age.  Then, as a boy, Silberstein heard a record by Gregor Piatigorsky, which impressed Silberstein to the extent that he took up the cello. In Munich, Silberstein studied with Rudolf Hindemith, brother of Paul Hindemith (1900-1974 - Hindemith was also known by the stage name of Hans Lofer). Later, Silberstein studied with Czech violinist Vasa Prihoda (1900-1960). Silberstein played cello in the Nurnberg symphony and was Principal cello with the Munich Radio Orchestra. Silberstein in 1962 moved to the U.S. to teach at the University of Texas. He was appointed Principal cello of the Pittsburgh Symphony under William Steinberg in about 1963-1964. Silberstein then moved to the cello section of the Boston Symphony for two seasons under Erich Leinsdorf 1964-1966. Then, in the 1966-1967 season, Jascha Silberstein was appointed Principal cello of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Silberstein remained Principal cello at the MET for thirty seasons. After retirement, he and his wife mezzo-soprano Diane Kesling moved to Hot Springs Arkansas, where Jascha Silberstein died in 2008 after a full career.
Jerry Grossman was born Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 15, 1950. Grossman studied at the Curtis Institute with David Soyer, where he graduated in the Class of 1971. During several summers, Jerry Grossman was active in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. He was also active in the conductor-less chamber orchestra, the Orpheus Ensemble in the 1990s. Grossman was then cellist for two seasons 1974-1976 with the New York Philharmonic and 1984-1986 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Following Chicago, Jerry Grossman won the audition for the Principal cello position of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he has continued for more than 25 seasons. With Grossman, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra continues its strong cello tradition dating back a century to Victor Herbert.
Rafael Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico on May 10 May, 1970. Figueroa comes from a musical family: his brother, violinist Guillermo Figueroa is Music Director of the New Mexico Symphony. His sister, Ivonne Figueroa is a concert pianist. Rafael Figueroa studied at Indiana University with Janos Starker and Gary Hoffman. After graduation, Figueroa remained at Indiana University as a member of the cello faculty. Rafael Figueroa was active in chamber music with the Amadeus Piano Trio. During summers, Figueroa has been active in music festivals, including the Casals Festival in his native Puerto Rico, the Casals Hall Festival - Tokyo, Lemi Music Festival - Finland, the Marlboro Festival - Vermont, the Aspen Music Festival - Colorado, and the Marblehead Music Festival - Massachusetts.
Oscar C. Grett was born in Germany in July 1864 and emigrated to New York City as a child with his family in 1870. In 1884-1887, Oscar Grett served as a regimental band musician in the US Army. Oscar Grett entered the Metropolitan Opera Ochestra in about 1896.
Rex Surany as a student studied double bass at Ithaca College. In 2006, Rex Surany attended The Colburn School in Los Angeles, and then was admitted to the Curtis Institute. While in Philadelphia, Surany also joined the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. In 2012, Rex Surany served in the New York Philharmonic as a temporary member. He also studied technique in Germany. In 2014, Rex Surany joined The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra double bass section, and in 2015, he was appointed Principal bass of the MET Orchestra.
One of the advantages for the Metropolitan Opera woodwinds and brass musicians was that starting in about 1954, and during the remainder of the twentieth century, each woodwind or brass chair had two musicians, each of whom would play half of the performances. Such doubling was necessary, since playing six or more performances each week, comprising different operas would be too much for a bassoon or a horn player to sustain, without burn-out or loss of performance quality.
For this reason, there were Principal players and "alternate Principal" or "Associate Principal" players, or sometimes "Co-Principal", sometimes with the Principal having an edge in stature over the Associate Principal, either through seniority, or by reputation. In other cases, the two Principal players were considered as equals, and as alternates. The woodwind and brass musician listings below seek, where possible to reflect the situation during each decade.
Marc Lifschey said '...the oboe is the Queen of the woodwinds, unrivaled by any other instrument of the section in its authoritative tone.' 57
Adolph Bertram was born in Germany in August, 1870. He came to the U.S. in 1889. In Chicago, Adolph Bertram was second oboe of the Chicago Symphony (at that time the "Chicago Orchestra") , under Theodore Thomas 1893-1896. By 1900, Adolph Bertram was Principal oboe in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he remained at least until 1910. For the 1911-1912 initial San Francisco Symphony season, Henry Hadley brought Adolph Bertram with him as Principal oboe. Bertram remained Principal oboe for three seasons 1911-1914. Adolph Bertram also was Principal oboe in the orchestra of the 1915 Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. In 1919-1922 Adolph Bertram moved to St. Louis, where he was Principal oboe and sometimes English horn in the St. Louis Symphony under Max Zach and Rudolf Ganz 37. Adolph Bertram seems to have died young, prior to 1930.
Giacomo Del Campo was born in Parma, Italy on July 24, 1884 . Del Campo studied at the Parma Conservatory, where he graduated in 1899 37. He came to the U.S. in 1908, where he was Principal oboe of the Chicago Grand Opera Company under Cleofonte Campanini (1860-1919), a conductor also from Parma. Giacomo Del Campo then came to the Metropolitan Opera in 1914, under Toscanini. Del Campo became a U.S. citizen in 1923. Del Campo seems to have died later than 1942, at which time he was living in retirement in Connecticut.
In 1917, Max F. Wenning was a bassoon and contrabassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, but also was a violinist.
Romeo Boninsegna was an English horn player at the MET in 1928.
Bert Gassman was born in New York City on May 29, 1911. As a child, Bert Gassman began with violin lessons, but changed to oboe at about age thirteen. At age 16, Gassman won a scholarship to the Damrosch School of Music, which was later absorbed into the Juilliard School. Bert Gassman joined the Cleveland Orchestra oboe section at age 19 in the 1930-1931 season. Gassman was primarily English horn solo for fourteen seasons in Cleveland, 1930-1944. Bert Gassman then went to New York to join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. While at the Metropolitan, according to Laila Storch's excellent biography of Marcel Tabuteau (How Do You Expect to Play the Oboe If You Can't Peel a Mushroom? 106), Bert Gassman met Marcel Tabuteau in New York, and although a seasoned professional, Gassman began taking the early train to Philadelphia to study with Tabuteau. In 1938, Bert Gassman became Principal oboe of the Orquestra Sinfonica de Mexico under Carlos Chavez, where he remained for 7 seasons. Gassman played English horn in the famous 1946 Stravinsky recording of his Pastorale for Violin, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet and Bassoon with Joseph Szigeti, violin, Mitch Miller, oboe, Robert McGinnis, clarinet, and Sol Schoenbach, bassoon in New York. Then, George Szell, taking up the Music Direction in Cleveland, and who had conducted Bert Gassman many times, hired him back to the Cleveland Orchestra as Principal oboe in Szell's second and third seasons, 1947-1949. Bert Gassman then left for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was Principal oboe for twenty-five seasons, 1949-1974. Bert Gassman died in Orange County, California on November 14, 2004, age 93.
Josef Marx was born in Berlin in 1913, and moved with his family to Cincinnati in 1927. He studied oboe at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. In 1935, Marx left the U. S. to become Principal oboe of Palestine Orchestra, newly formed by the famous violinist, Bronislaw Huberman. He also taught oboe at the Jerusalem Conservatoire. The Lerners 13 tell an amusing story about how Marx came to study with the famous conductor and oboist Leon Goossens. "...Some members of the Tel Aviv Symphony got together to play a trick on Josef: they sent him a fake letter supposedly written by Goossens, inviting Josef to come to London on scholarship to study with this great master!...In the summer of 1936, therefore...Josef borrowed against his orchestra salary for the 1936-37 season and set sail for London. Arriving on Goossens' doorstep totally broke, he was taken in by the great master and taught free of charge first at the Royal College of Music and then privately." In 1946, he founded the publishing house of McGinnis and Marx. Marx died in 1978.
William Criss was born in Philadelphia on December 3, 1921. Beginning in 1942 at age 20, Criss studied with Marcel Tabuteau at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia 23. After discharge from the Army Air Force following World War 2, Criss joined the Baltimore Symphony in 1946, until the end of the 1947-1948 season. William Criss then relocated to New York City, where he became a session musician, played for ballet and also played in the orchestra of radio station WOR. Then in 1949, William Criss joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He was either Principal oboe with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from the 1949-1950 season for ten seasons until the end of 1958-1959. During the summers in the 1950s, Criss played with the orchestra of the Bell Telephone Radio Hour. In 1959, William Criss relocated to California, where he was a Hollywood musician at several major studios. Among the movies he performed in were The Godfather, Sophie's Choice, and On Golden Pond. Criss also taught oboe at the University of Southern California. During this period, William Criss played with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He continued these Hollywood activities and teaching up until his death in 1984. Criss died on December 12, 1984 at the relatively young age of 63 from cancer.
1959-1960 Marc Lifschey
Marc Lifschey was born June 16, 1926 in New York City. His father, Elias Lifschey was also a violist who played with the NBC Symphony under Toscanini. Marc Lifschey studied with Ferdinand Gillet, Bert Brenner, and with Marcel Tabuteau at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia 100. He was briefly in the oboe section of the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra. Marc Lifschey was first oboe in the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington 1948-1950. He then went to the Cleveland Orchestra as Principal in 1950. Lifschey remained in Cleveland until the end of the 1964-1965 season, except for one year. The exception was the 1959-1960 season, when he was Principal oboe with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 100. Contemporaries said that George Szell dismissed Marc Lifschey to free him to appoint John Mack as Principal oboe following the 1964-1965 Cleveland season. After leaving Cleveland, in 1965, Marc Lifschey joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Josef Krips. Lifschey was initially co-Principal oboe of the SFSO with Jean-Louis LeRoux, from about 1965-1970 100. Lifschey was subsequently named Principal oboe, and served with the San Francisco Symphony for a total of twenty-one seasons, from 1965-1986. 1984, William Hewlett (cofounder of Hewlett-Packard) endowed the Edo de Waart chair of Principal oboe and Lifschey occupied the chair until he retired in 1986. From 1993-1998, Marc Lifschey taught at Indiana University, until retiring to Oregon. In the orchestra and teaching, Marc Lifschey had the reputation for being both kind and generous, different from the teaching style often adopted by teachers with a European conservatory training. Marc Lifschey died at age 74 on November 8, 2000 in Portland, Oregon from complications resulting from diabetes.
William Arrowsmith born in New York January, 1921. He was a long-time Principal oboe with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, serving 1947-1986. in the latter part of his career, Arrowsmith was Co-Principal with Alfred Genovese. In the 1970s, Arrowsmith performed with the The New York Kammermusiker of woodwinds. Arrowsmith died in New York City June 5, 2006.
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.
Richard Nass was born in Berlin, Germany in 1919. He emigrated to the USA as a child with his family at age five. After high school, he entered the Juilliard School in about 1940. After service during World War II, he joined Fritz Reiner's Pittsburgh Symphony serving 1946-1951. In 1951-1952, Richard Nass entered the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra playing English horn. He served for 48 seasons, retiring at age 79 in 1999. During this time he was Principal oboe during 1979-1999 for a total of 48 seasons of service.
MET Orchestra oboes in 1995: front: John Ferrillo, Susan Spector, Richard Nass
back: Elaine Douvas, Sharon Meekins
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, Alfred Genovese and Genovese's predecessor, Ralph Gomberg , 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 Marcel Tabuteau 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. Who could wish for higher praise?
Eugene Izotov was born in Moscow, Russia in 1973. He began oboe study early at 6 years old at the Gnesin Academy of Music in Moscow. In 1991, Izotov was a laureate in the Russian Wind Players Competition. In about 1994, Izotof began studies at Boston University with Ralph Gomberg (1921-2006) of the Boston Symphony. Izotov also studied at Tanglewood in the summer of 1995. Izotof was Principal oboe of the Kansas City Symphony in the 1995-1996 season. In the next year, he was appointed Associate Principal oboe of the San Francisco Orchestra 1996-2001. In 1999, Eugene Izotof won second place in the Fernand Gillet-Hugo Fox Oboe Competition 53. In the 2002-2003 season, Izotof became co-Principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, where he stayed for three seasons. In 2005, Daniel Barenboim appointed Izotof as Principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony for the 2006-2007 season. Active in teaching, while at San Francisco, Izotof taught oboe at the San Francisco Conservatory. During his MET tenure, he taught at Juilliard. No doubt in Chicago, he will continue his teaching and bringing his singing tone to the orchestra.
photo by John Abbott
Elaine Douvas was born in Port Huron, suburban Detroit, Michigan in March, 1952. As a child, she studied piano, violin, and horn, before concentrating on oboe in the Sixth Grade. In 1960-1962, Douvas was a student in the summers at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. After High School, Elaine Douvas entered the Cleveland Institute of Music in 1970 where she remained for three years. There, her principal oboe study was with John Mack of the Cleveland Orchestra. Elaine Douvas at the young age of 21 was appointed Principal oboe of the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Shaw, where she served for four seasons, 1973-1977.
Elaine Douvas won the audition to became Principal Oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1977-1978 season. After more than three decades at the MET, she remains a leader of her section. Elaine Douvas met her husband, Robert Sirinek at the MET, where he played trumpet. Robert Sirinek is now the manager of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Elaine Douvas has performed many times as soloist with both the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and other, including a performance of Dutilleux’s Les Citations with the MET Chamber Ensemble. Active in teaching, Elaine Douvas is also Chairman of the woodwind department at the Juilliard School where she has been teaching since 1997. Athletic, she also enjoys figure skating 52. Perhaps this is another example that physical fitness often goes with sustained great music making.
Nathan Hughes was born near Saint Paul, Minnesota in December, 1976. As a youth, he studied with Michael Aamoth. At the high school level, he studied at the Harid Conservatory (Boca Raton, Florida) with John Dee, Principal oboe of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. Hughes also studied summers at the Aspen Music Festival during these years. Nathan Hughes studied the Cleveland Institute of Music with John Mack, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree. Hughes later studied at the Juilliard with Elaine Douvas, earning his Masters degree. Hughes was Principal oboe with the Savannah Symphony Orchestra.
Hughes trained both at Tanglewood and at the Marlboro Music Festivals. He has been active in music festivals, including the Aspen Festival - Colorado, Bridgehampton Music Festival - New York, Lucerne Music Festival - Switzerland, Mainly Mozart Festival - New York, Salzburg Music Festival - Austria, Santa Fe Music Festival - New Mexico, Sarasota Music Festival - Florida, and the Spoleto Music Festival - South Carolina. In 2006, Nathan Hughes joined the oboe faculty at the Juilliard School. Nathan Hughes joined the Seattle Symphony as Principal oboe in December, 2002. Prior to Seattle, Hughes was associate Principal oboe of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. in the 2006-2007 season, Nathan Hughes joined his teacher Elaine Douvas as a Principal oboe of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. As such, he continues the tradition of greatness of the Metropolitan oboe section.
Leopoldo Bucci was born in Italy in 1867. He studied at the Conservatory of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. After graduation, he taught bassoon at the Conservatory and later at the Milan Concervatory. Leopoldo Bucci became Principal bassoon of the MET Orchestra in about 1898, and served for 22 years. He later became Principal bassoon of the Chicago Grand Opera Company in 1920-1929. His son Marcello Bucci was bassoon of the Cleveland Orchestra 1936-1952, and contrabassoon in Cleveland 1936-1960. Leopoldo Bussi died in New York City in February 1949 at age 81.
1942-1946 Hugo Burghauser
Hugo Burghauser was born in Vienna February 27, 1896 of a German father and Italian mother. Burghauser was former Principal bassoon with the Vienna State Opera/Vienna Philharmonic, but, although not Jewish, was dismissed for political reasons. Burghauser said that he chose the bassoon so as to gain a scholarship at the Vienna Conservatory. His teacher in Vienna was Hans Boehm. Following World War 1, where Burghauser served in a regimental band, he auditioned for the Vienna State Opera, at that time directed by Richard Strauss. Burghauser was at the Vienna State Opera for 17 seasons. He said that the repertoire would typically include some sixty different operas during a 10-month season. Therefore, extensive rehearsal of all these works was not feasible, and the musicians had to learn them separately. He said "...One acquired fast and accurate sight reading ability..." 55 In 1932, in the world-wide economic depression, Hugo Burghauser was designated as administrator of the Vienna State Opera/Vienna Philharmonic. In the Wiener Staatsoper tradition, Burghauser was, apparently, a musical politician, making a number of enemies 56. In the 1930s, Vienna switched to a system of guest conductors, including Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini. At was at this time that Burghauser got to know Toscanini. Burghauser (with an Italian mother) at the Salzburg Festival became an intermediary between the Festival and Arturo Toscanini.
In 1938, Germany invaded Austria, and although, as stated above, he was not of Jewish heritage, Hugo Burghauser was politically unwelcome. He left Austria with virtually no money and made his way with difficulty to Paris. He heard that Toronto was looking for a bassoon, and made this his objective. Aided by Signora Carla Toscanini (Toscanini's wife), he left Paris for New York, and then Toronto arriving late in 1938. Burghauser stayed with the Toronto Symphony for three seasons. In 1942, Burghauser became second bassoon and contrabassoon with the Metropolitan Opera, when Stephen Maxym and other bassoons were inducted into the U.S. Army. Burghauser became a U.S. citizen in 1946. Burghauser remained with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 1942-1965. After retiring, Burghauser continued to teach in New York City, where he died on December 9, 1982.
Stephen Maxym was born in New York City July 17, 1915. Maxym tells his experience as a Stuyvasant High School student, meeting Sol Schoenbach who lent him reeds, and give some suggestions about bassoon embouchure. At Stuyvesant, Maxym auditioned for a New York Philharmonic scholarship to study with their musicians. In 1931, Maxym auditioned with Simon Kovar, Philharmonic Principal bassoon, and since there were only four candidates for six scholarships, he said, Maxym won 38. After study with Simon Kovar, Stephen Maxym gained a scholarship to the at the Institute of Musical Arts (Juilliard) in 1933. After three years at the Institute, he was offered a position the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner as Principal bassoon starting with 1937-1938 season. It was too good for Maxym to turn down, and he needed the money, so he dropped out of Juilliard 38.  Maxym says that in 1939, at the beginning of his third season at Pittsburgh, he became fed up with the treatment from Fritz Reiner, and quit. Maxym auditioned with Erich Leinsdorf to join the Metropolitan Opera and fortunately was hired in January, 1940, mid-season of 1939-1940, following the sudden death of his predecessor. Maxym said that otherwise, no one would believe he had quit Pittsburgh, but rather that Reiner had fired him. . In 1942, Maxym entered the U.S. Army as a radio operator. In the 1946-1947 season, after considering auditioning for the Chicago Symphony, Maxym was re-hired as the Metropolitan Opera's Principal oboe for the 1946-1947 season. When Fritz Reiner came to the MET as a conductor, he had not forgotten that Maxym had resigned in Pittsburgh, and tried to make performance difficult for him. Maxym confronted Reiner, and as Reiner was sometimes to do with others, Reiner thereafter respected Maxym and treated him well. Maxym played under all the great conductors of the Metropolitan Opera, an resigned at the end of the 1975-1976 season, early in the regime of James Levine During his tenure at the MET, Maxym taught at Juilliard (1950-1995 39) and at the Manhattan School of Music. In 1995, Maxym moved to Orange County, California and began teaching at the University of Southern California, until his death in 2002. Stephen Maxym died in Laguna Hills, California on October 12, 2002.
(l to r) Richard Hebert, Hugo Berghauser, Leonard Hindell, David Manchester in the 1980s
Richard Hebert studied at the Juilliard School, Class of 1959.
David Manchester was born in New York City on July 9, 1920. He was Principal bassoon in Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1940s 1950s for over thirty years. The singer and song writer Melissa Manchester, born February 15, 1952, was his daughter, with whom he frequently performed. David Manchester died in Los Angeles on January 2, 1993.
Charles McCracken was born in Pennsylvania in 1957. McCracken began oboe study as a teenager, and in college. McCracken was Principal bassoon of the New Jersey Symphony, and also played bassoon with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He joined the American Symphony Orchestra in 1978, and became Principal oboe of the Orchestra in 1988, a post he still fulfills. Charles McCracken is also Principal bassoon of the New York Pops orchestra. McCracken was a founding member, and longtime musician with the Sylvan Winds, a wind quintet started in 1979. Charles McCracken has been for the last several decades one of the most active of New York free-lance musicians. He is also active in music festivals and groups, including the North Country Chamber Players - New Hampshire, Cape and Islands Festival - Massachusetts, Cape May Festival - New Jersey, and the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival - Finland.
Patricia 'Trish' Rogers was born in Kentucky. At the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Rogers studied bassoon with Otto Eifert, long-time Principal bassoon of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, receiving her BMus. She was appointed Co-Principal bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera in December, 1976. As a chamber musician, she has appeared regularly with James Levine and the MET Chamber Ensemble. Rogers was active in the Marlboro Music Festival from 1981 to 1983, where she also studied with the legendary Marcel Moyse (1889-1984). Rogers has taught at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music. Since 1993 Patricia Rogers has taught at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. Trish Rogers is married to former Principal viola Michael Ouzounian, whom she met after joining the orchestra. After retiring from the Metropolitan Opera, Patricia Rogers has continued teaching, including in master classes at universities and summer institutes.
Whitney Crockett was born in Tampa, Florida in October, 1962. He began his bassoon studies in Miami with Michael Finn and Luciano Magnanini. He then entered the Juilliard School, studying bassoon with with Stephen Maxym. In Florida, Crockett was Principal bassoon with the South Florida Youth Symphony in Miami, and the Florida Orchestra in Tampa in 1989. He also was Principal bassoon with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in the the Dominican Republic. Crockett was Principal bassoon with the Montreal Symphony 1990-1998. Crockett was appointed co-Principal bassoon of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, with Patricia Rogers, in the 1998-1999 season. While Crockett was in Montreal, he also taught bassoon at McGill University. More recently, Crockett has taught at Juilliard since 2001 and at the Manhattan School of Music.
Whitney Crockett in Los Angeles
In April, 2010, Whitney Crockett won the competition to become Principal bassoon of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he has been one of the Philharmonic's admired soloists.
William Short studied bassoon at the Curtis Institute, BMus Class of 2010. He then did graduate work at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, MMus. William Short was Principal bassoon with the Delaware Symphony prior to his appointment with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra beginning in the 2013-2014 season. He has also been active in music festivals, including the Mostly Mozart Festival - New York City, the Spoleto Festival - South Carolina, the Pacific Music Festival - Japan, and the Verbier Festival - Switzerland.
Principal Clarinets of the Metropolitan Opera
Antonio Bellucci was born in Pisa, Italy on February 5, 1857. Bellucci came to the United States in August, 1883 to join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Principal clarinet in its opening season 70. The New York Times in 1915 said: '...He played on the opening night of the Opera House when Mme. Patti was the star. Antonio Bellucci was Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 31 seasons, from the opening in 1883, until illness caused him to retire at the end of the 1913-1914 season 70. During this time, he also toured with Metropolitan Opera stars, such as Alma Gluck in 1912. Antonio Bellucci is particularly remembered today, in part, because he played the clarinet with the reed on top 66. Antonio Bellucci died in New York City on May 24, 1916 after an extended illness. Antonio Bellucci's son Giovanni Bellucci was also with the Metropolitan Opera, and his brother, Emilio was a music teacher.
Alberto Chiaffarelli was born in Prata Sannita, Italy, 75 km north of Naples on February 5, 1884. He emigrated to the U.S. as an infant in 1884, with his father, Charles (born June, 1839) who was also a clarinet player. This was a musical family, and Alberto's brothers Frank (born April, 1871), and Angelo (born January, 1875) were also trained as clarinetists. In 1903-1910, Chiaffarelli played in Victor Herbert's traveling orchestra, and in several bands 127. In 1904, Chiaffarelli joined the Sousa band. Then, for nine seasons, 1910-1919, Chiaffarelli played clarinet in the New York Philharmonic 66. The next season, in 1919-1920, Alberto Chiaffarelli became co-Principal clarinet in the Metropolitan Opera, remaining for two seasons. Chiaffarelli then took the same position with the Chicago Opera Orchestra. In 1924, like a number of other musicians, he worked in the orchestra of a theater, in this case, the Theater of Marcus Klaw (1858-1936) in New York City. Unusual was that Alberto Chiaffarelli played on an Albert-system clarinet 66 more associated with ethnic music (turkish, Klezmer, etc.) than with a symphony orchestra. Alberto Chiaffarelli died in New York City in 1945.
Michele Fusco was born In Cardito, just north of Naples, Italy in 1878. He came to the U.S. in 1905. Michele Fusco became co-Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1919, where he remained as Principal for 21 seasons. Could Michele Fusco be related to the famous musician and scholar Michele Fusco active at the Naples Conservatory in about 1830-1840?
Ettore Bendazzi was born in Novi Ligure, Italy, north of Genoa November 16, 1881. At age 14, Bendazzi began clarinet study with Domenico Mari at the Liceo Musicale in Turino, where he graduated in 1900. He was later a bandsman, and also taught clarinet at the Liceo Musicale. In 1922, Bendazzi emigrated to the U.S. to join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Bendazzi was Assistant Principal clarinet at the MET for 36 seasons.
Attilio Poto (right) with the Boston Symphony. At left is John Holmes BSO Principal oboe 1947-1950 and in center, Manuel Valerio clarinet 1933-1955 and Principal clarinet of the Boston Pops.
Attilio Poto was born in Boston in August 14, 1914, but moved with his family to Italy shortly thereafter. He and his family then returned to Boston when Attillio was 9. Attilio Poto played clarinet in Boston's Youth Orchestra, conducted by Koussevitzky's nephew, Fabian Sevitzky. In 1929, Poto went to New York City to play in the National Orchestral Association, a training orchestra, and to study conducting with Leon Barzin, the orchestra's conductor. In 1939-1940, Poto was Principal clarinet with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for the German repertory. Poto returned to Boston still pursuing his conducting ambitions. Poto in 1940 he conducted the Massachusetts State Symphony. During WW2, 1942-1946, Attillio Poto joined the Air Force as a band member. In the summer of 1946, Poto studied conducting at the Tanglewood Music Center. 1949-1950, Attillio Poto was second clarinet in the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky and Charles Munch. Poto remained in Boston and from 1950-1992 he taught clarinet and conducting at the Boston Conservatory. Attillio Poto died in Boston on July 24, 2003 at the age of 88.
detail of photo: Boston Symphony Archives, 1956
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 " Signor Ciofi " 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 clarinet 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 with 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 59 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.
David Weber was born in Vilna, Lithuania, in 1913. Webber came the United States with his family in 1921, settling in Detroit, Michigan. He began studying clarinet at age 11. As a teen, he studied with two Principal clarinets of the Detroit Symphony, Roy Schmidt and Alberto Luconi. To further his development, David Webber went to New York City in the 1930s. There he studied with Simeon Bellison, then Principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, and also with Daniel Bonade, at that time Principal clarinetist of the Columbia Broadcasting System radio orchestra. In 1938, David Weber was hired by Arthur Rodzinski to join the clarinet section of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, where he stayed two seasons. In 1940, David Weber was appointed Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, alternating with Luigi Cancellieri. Weber was at the MET for three seasons.  David Weber was then appointed assistant Principal clarinet in the New York Philharmonic 1943-1944. He was Principal clarinet of the New York City Ballet Orchestra 1960-1986. After leaving the New York City Ballet, Weber taught at both Columbia University and at the Juilliard School. David Weber had the reputation of being strict, but supportive with his students, and inflexible in his relations with colleagues, and even with conductors 67. David Weber died in New York City on January 23, 2006.
Luigi (or sometimes Louis) Cancellieri was born in Rome in June 21, 1895. Cancellieri studied with Aurelio Magnani at the St. Cecilia Conservatory in Rome. In the early 1920s, after its re-opening, Cancellieri was Principal clarinet at La Scala Milan under Toscanini until the end of the 1923-1924 season. Luigi Cancellieri then emigrated to the U.S. in the summer of 1924, and became a citizen. He became Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Cancellieri was said by Gunther Schuller and other colleagues to have a rich, full clarinet sound, immediately identifiable. Luigi Cancellieri lived for years above Carnegie Hall, a convenient location. Cancellieri used a crystal or glass mouthpiece on his clarinet, just as Gino Cioffi and Robert Marcellus were said to have done, at least in part. Luigi Cancellieri died in 1959.
Musicians of the New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble, Joseph Rabbai, center
Joseph Rabbai was born in New York on August 23, 1938. He studied at Temple University in Philadelphia and at the Juilliard School. After Juilliard, Joseph Rabbai went on to a career as Principal clarinet in a series of leading orchestras: the American Symphony Orchestra - New York under Leopold Stokowski, the Israel Philharmonic and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. He also played clarinet in the New York City Opera Orchestra. Joseph Rabbai was appointed Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1980. For two decades beginning in 1971, Joseph Rabbai was Principal clarinet with The Mostly Mozart Festival summers in New York City. Also in summers, he has been active in festivals, including the Caramoor Festival north of New York City. As a teacher, Joseph Rabbai has been active at Queens College, Brooklyn College, Graduate School of the City University of New York, the State University of New York - Purchase and the New Jersey City University. While in New York City in his various permanent appointments, he also was a regular musician at New York recording sessions. Among contemporary composers recorded by Rabbai are works by Ned Rorem and Olivier Messiaen. He has also been active in chamber music throughout his career. Joseph Rabbai was a long time clarinet with the New York Philomusica Ensemble. After a full career as Principal clarinet in many leading orchestras and chamber groups, Joseph Rabbai retired from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2003 and was succeeded by Stephen Williamson.
Roger Hiller studied at the Curtis Institute in the 1950s. He was Principal clarinet of the Houston Symphony under Leopold Stokowski prior to joining the Metropolitan Opera.
Herbert S. Blayman was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1921. He graduated from the Julliard School of Music in the class of 1939. After serving in the US Army during World War II, Herb Blayman joined the Metropolitan Opera orchestra in 1950. He was Principal clarinet, serving 30 years in the Principal chair.
Ricardo Morales was born in Puerto Rico in 1972. He studied, along with his five siblings at the Escuela Libre de Musica. He then studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and later at Indiana University. Ricardo Morales orchestral career began as Principal clarinet of the Florida Symphony. He was Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 1993-2003. Wolfgang Sawallisch selected Morales to be Philadelphia Orchestra Principal clarinet in 2002. This was Sawallisch's last appointment of a new musician to the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ricardo Morales teaches at both the Juilliard School and at Temple University in Philadelphia. In April, 2011, the New York Philharmonic announced that Ricardo Morales would take up the Principal clarinet position in New York beginning in September 2012, following his final Philadelphia commitments in the summer of 2012. However, upon reflection, in March 2012, Ricardo Morales let it be known that he had decided against accepting the New York Philharmonic offer. Of course, all Philadelphia Orchestra fans are thrilled by this resolution, and the Philadelphia Orchestra woodwind section continues its rich history of excellence.
Stephen Williamson was born on December 8, 1969. He studied at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his Performer’s Certificate and BMus. Then, at the Juilliard School, he went on to his MMus. Stephen Williamson was also a Fulbright scholar, studying at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin. He became Principal clarinet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in December, 2003-2004. Seiji Ozawa also appointed Stephen Williamson Principal clarinet of the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra. Stephen Williamson also teaches at Columbia University and at the Mannes College of Music in New York City. Williamson also has been active in the MET Chamber Ensemble, making great music with James Levine. By the summer of 2011, there were numerous reports that Chicago had offered the Principal clarinet position to Stephen Williamson. In August, 2011, the Chicago Symphony confirmed that Stephen Williamson had accepted appointment as Principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony. Stephen Williamson joined the Chicago Symphony under Riccardo Muti on their European Tour, August 22 to September 7, 2011. The Principal clarinet chair of the Chicago Symphony had been open for three seasons. Williamson's appointment was well received by both the Chicago public and Stephen Williamson's colleagues. However, in February 2013, the Chicago Symphony and the New York Philharmonic announced that Stephen Williamson would become Principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic effective July, 2013. The Philharmonic had been without a Principal clarinet for 4 seasons. At one time it had been announced that Ricardo Morales would join the New York Philharmonic, but Morales decided to remain as Philadelphia Principal clarinet.
Anthony McGill grew up in Chicago. He studied with Principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Larry Combs. He also studied at the Interlochen Arts Academy - Michigan. McGill gained admission to the Curtis Institute where he graduated Class of 2000. His is a musical family, and his older brother Demarre studied flute at Curtis Class of 1996. Demarre McGill was San Diego Symphony Principal flute before assuming the same position with the Seattle Symphony. From 2000-2004, Anthony McGill was Associate Principal clarinet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He then won the competition for the Principal clarinet chair with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra for the 2004-2005 season.
photo by David Finlayson
McGill has been active in music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival - Vermont, and the Pacific Music Festival - Japan. On January 20, 2009, performed with Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Gabriela Montero Air and Simple Gifts composed by John Williams for at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Boris Allakhverdyan was born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1984. His family is of Armenian descent, and is a musical family. Boris Allakhverdyan studied first with his father who was Principal clarinet of Baku Opera Orchestra in Azerbaijan 131. He then moved to Russia when he gained admission to the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory where he earned his BMus in 2006. Boris Allakhverdyan then relocated to the USA, studying at the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College - Ohio, gaining his Artist Diploma in 2008. He then studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music gaining his MMus in 2010. Boris Allakhverdyan had been Associate Principal clarinet of the Kansas City Symphony for three seasons, August 2009-August 2012. He is also active in music festivals, including the Colorado Music Festival and the Britt Festival Orchestra - Oregon performing as Principal clarinet in both, as well as the Lucerne Festival Academy - Switzerland under the direction of Pierre Boulez and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Connecticut.
John Wion in his superb flute site documents that the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra had only one 'Principal' flute until the 1956-1957 season 44 when James Politis, previously Assistant Principal was elevated to the new position of 'Associate Principal'. Beginning in the 1944-1945 season Hendrick de Vries was given the new position of 'Assistant Principal', and James Politis received the same title when he replaced Hendrick de Vries in the 1951-52 season.
As with the Concertmasters, the program for the opening season of the Metropolitan Opera in 1884 simply lists the family names of the musicians; 'Signor Roberti' and 'Signor Calvera' for the flutists.
Key information for this flutes section comes from the excellent listing in the superb John Wion website http://homepage.mac.com/johnwion/orchestra.html, supplemented by information from http://www.flute.com/ and the excellent source books and writings, such as Nancy Toff's Monarch of the Flute, and Demetra Baferos Fair's Doctoral Disertation: Flutists’ Family Tree 10 and information from David Berkowitz.
Hugo Wittgenstein in about 1898
Hugo Wittgenstein was born in Westphalia, Germany in May 1856, but emigrated with his family to Kentucky at age 3. He was a flute student of Martin Heindl of the Boston Quintette Club (in which Rudolph Hennig, the first Principal cello of the Philadelphia Orchestra also played). In 1874, Wittgenstein joined the Theodore Thomas Orchestra and taught at the Cincinnati College of Music, where Theodore Thomas had for 18 months accepted the Directorship. For one season, 1884-1885, Hugo Wittgenstein seems to have been Principal flute with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, although records are incomplete. Wittgenstein was later flute with the New York Philharmonic in the 1890s.
Marino Capelli may have been one of the Principal flutes of the mid-1880s MET orchestra, but records are poor. Marino Capelli is listed as solo flute in an Atlanta, Georgia silent movie theater in 1921 68, suggesting his musical career had not prospered.
Carl Wehner was born in Mannheim, Germany February 27, 1838 62. Both his grandfather and father had been flute players. Wehner's father died while Carl was young, and he went to Würzburg, Germany to study under Caspar Röder 62. Carl Wehner then became a flute student of the famous Theobald Boehm (1794-1881). Wehner then went to Russia, where, after difficulties, finally was appointed solo flute with the Wehner was solo flute for Imperial Mariinksy Theater in St. Petersburg, sitting next to the Italian flutist Cesare Ciardi (1818-1877), in St. Petersburg from about 1867-1884 62. Wehner spent 17 years in Russia, after which he accepted a solo flute position at the König Theater Hannover in about 1875 63. It was there, in Germany that Theodore Thomas recruited Wehner for his orchestra in the United States. Wehner was then Principal flute with the New York Symphony under Leopold Damrosch from 1877 to about 1885. In the 1885-1886 season, Wehner was solo flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The next season, Wehner joined the New York Philharmonic as solo flute 1886-1891 under Theodore Thomas. The next season, 1891-1892, Otto Oesterle served as solo flute of the Philharmonic. The next season, Wehner became Principal with the New York Philharmonic again, serving from 1892-1900. A historian of the flute maker William Hayes, Susan Berdahl wrote: "...While Carl Wehner, first flutist with the Metropolitan Opera Company Orchestra, was touring in Boston he had occasion to use one of William Haynes’ early flutes made while he was still with J.C. Haynes and Co. in 1898. Wehner liked the flute so much that he purchased it for one hundred dollars and subsequently was responsible for the sale of six more Haynes flutes to his friends and colleagues...", which helped establish Haynes’s reputation 15. However, it seems Wehner did not like metal flutes. Leonardo De Lorenzo, a student of Carl Wehner stated "...I regret to say that Carl Wehner's hatred for the metal flute was excessive and exaggerated. In spite of his financial difficulties in his last years, he would never hear or teach anyone with a metal flute!" 16. Georges Barrčre was gaining new flute students at Wehner's expense 63. Flutists were more and more preferring the lighter French sound played with a metal flute. Carl Wehner died in New York City in 1912.
Otto Stoeckert was born in Germany in 1863. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1884, and settled in New York City. Stoeckert played in numerous concert groups in New York City during the 1890s. Otto Stoeckert became Principal flute in the Seidl Orchestra that conductor Anton Seidl organized in 1897, which likely would have continued except for the event of Seidl's sudden death in 1898. Otto Stoeckert was Principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at least from 1905 until 1913. As did most other musicians of this era, Stoeckert played in summer festival orchestras in the 1910s. Stoeckert is also listed by the Chicago Symphony archives as being Principal flute with the Chicago Symphony in 1907, apparently for less than a full season. Stoeckert also seems to have been a Principal flute with the New York Symphony, which in the early MET years was the house orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera Philharmonic. Otto Stoeckert died in Brooklyn, New York on March 23, 1913 at the end of the 1912-1913 season, age only 50.
Giuseppe Brugnoli was born in Borgotaro, near L'Aquila (100 km northeast of Rome), Italy August 4, 1873. Brugnoli was solo flute under Toscanini at La Scala, Milan and also of the Orchestra del teatro Augusteo di Roma 63. At the Metropolitan, he was referred to as "the flute of Toscanini". After his six seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, he returned in 1920 to join Arturo Toscanini at the famous reopening (with Falstaff) of La Scala, Milan in 1921. Giuseppe Brugnoli died in Italy in 1952 63.
Nicola Laucella, who in public records referred to himself as Nicholas Laucella, was born in the Avellino province, east of Naples, Italy on July 1, 1882, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1895. Laucella during 1904-1907 was either a flute or the solo flute of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 14. Nicola Laucella was Principal flute of the New York Philharmonic 1909-1911, and then stayed with the Philharmonic until the end of the 1918-1919 season. In the 1919-1920 season, Nicola Laucella became Principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, where he stayed for 17 seasons. In 1920, Nicola Laucella made three flute recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company with the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomia Robles (1871-1942), but these recordings were not issued 69. We do however have recordings of Nicola Laucella playing, such as this Wolf-Ferrari aria from 'I gioielli della Madonna' sung March 24, 1930 by Giuseppe De Luca (1876-1950), Metropolitan Opera star, with Nicola Laucella, flute obbligato.
Click here to listen to Laucella and De Luca in 'Aprila, bella' from 1930 . Nicola Laucella composed a string quartet, a number of concerti, and a flute trio, and several of his orchestral works were performed at about the time of World War 1. Nicola Laucella died on April 3, 1952.
Ewald Haun was born in Homestead, Pennsylvania (suburban Pittsburgh) December 7, 1891 of German parents. He was trained in both piano and flute. He studied music in Germany with Barlassieve 12. In the 1910s, he worked as a musician in Cincinnati, including as a hotel musician, both in piano and flute. Haun played flute with the Cincinnati Symphony 1920 - 1926. He provided piano accompaniment for singers, including Amelita Galli-Curci in tour on in the 1920s. Ewald Haun also performed on flute with the Atwater-Kent Orchestra under Louis Edlin in 1926. He played in New York orchestras in the 1920s. Haun also conducted radio orchestras in the early 1930s. He died in January, 1939 from heart disease.
Arthur Lora was born in the Novale province of Vicenza, Italy on March 11, 1903.  In 1907, his family emigrated to the U.S., settling in Rhode Island. In 1916, when his family moved to New York, Lora decided to follow a career as a flutist. His was a musical family, with his brother Alfred Lora becoming a violinist with the New York Philharmonic, and his brother Antonio Lora being a pianist and composer who also studied and taught at Juilliard. In 1919 at age 16, Arthur Lora enrolled in the Institute of Art (Juilliard) where he studied flute under the legendary Georges Barrčre (1876-1944). Arthur Lora graduated from Juilliard in 1923. Lora then became Principal flute with the State Symphony of New York under Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960) 26. Beginning in 1926, Lora was Georges Barrčre's assistant at the Institute of Musical Art, teaching flute, which he continued for the next thirty years. Arthur Lora was active with the New York Chamber Music Society from 1921-1936 62. During 1928-1936, Arthur Lora was first flute for the NBC radio broadcast orchestra, a desirable post since it was year-around employment, at a time when orchestra musicians might play for a 24 or 30 week season. Then, in 1937, Arthur Lora became Principal flute of the Metropolitan opera for seven seasons 1937-1944. Following the death of Georges Barrčre in 1944, Lora succeeded him as head of the flute program at Juilliard 62, where he continued into the 1970s. Lora became Principal Flute of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini 1948-1952, succeeding Carmine Coppola. Lora also played in the Symphony of the Air's Far East tour in May and June, 1955. As well as teaching at the Juilliard School in the 1950s and 1960s, Lora was also active as a New York session recording musician, and played Broadway shows (e.g. Stoppard's 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead'). Lora was also interested in musical scholarship, and certain forgotten works, such as the compositions of C.P.E. Bach. Arthur Lora died on November 28, 1992 in Santa Barbara, California.
Harold Bennett was born in Casper, Wyoming on August 27, 1913. He studied with William Kincaid at the Curtis Institute where he graduated in 1935 99. Harold Bennett, after graduating from Curtis was from 1935-1937 Principal flute of the National Symphony of Washington, D.C. under Hans Kindler. Harold Bennett then went to New York, where he was Principal flute with the Radio City Music Hall orchestra, an attractive, year-around job. Bennett then went to the Pittsburgh Symphony as Principal Flute under Fritz Reiner, 1938-1940. Bennett went from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia in the 1940-1941 season. In Philadelphia, he was Assistant Principal flute and piccolo in the Philadelphia Orchestra, sitting next to his teacher and colleague William Kincaid during the War, 1940-1944. After Philadelphia, Harold Bennett was principal flute for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 21 seasons from 1944-1965. During much of his tenure at the Metropolitan, Bennett also performed radio, and later television concerts ('The Voice of Firestone') and recorded regularly with the New York-based Firestone Orchestra 1938-1960, under Howard Barlow. Harold Bennett later said that he had developed a device to prevent the flute from losing its pitch with the change in temperature. This bears further research! Incidentally, Harold Bennett was not related to Henry Fillmore (1881-1956), the composer of many marches, who used the name Harold Bennett as a pseudonym. Beginning in 1962, Harold Bennett taught flute at the Manhattan School of Music 99. Harold Bennett died of a heart attack on September 17, 1985 in Jackson Heights, New York.
James Politis was born September 2, 1921 in New York City of Greek parents. He studied flute under John R. Wummer (1899-1977) of the New York Philharmonic. James Politis joined the Metropolitan Opera as Assistant Principal flute in the 1951-1952 season. He became Principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera in the 1956-1957 season serving first with Harold Bennett, and beginning in the 1965-1966 season, with Victor Just. David Berkowitz wrote that Politis, due to family problems developed poor habits which undermined his health in his later years 43. James Politis suddenly died in December, 1976, still performing, age only 55.
Victor Just was born in 1913. Victor Just studied at the Institute of Musical Art (Juilliard) with Georges Barrčre (1876-1944) in New York in about 1932. Just was Principal flute of the Baltimore Symphony for one season, 1943-1944. in the 1950s, Victor Just was a sessions musician in New York City. Just joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Co-Principal flute in the 1965-1966 season. He remained at the MET for eleven seasons, retiring at the end of the 1975-1976 season. During this time, Just taught at the Mannes School of Music in New York City. Victor Just died in April, 2002.
Trudy Kane was born on October 21, 1950 in New York. She came from a musical family, both her parents being music teachers. Trudy Kane studied at the Juilliard School, gaining her BMus and MMus. After graduation, Trudy Kane was a New York freelance musician, including being a regular extra with the New York Philharmonoic. On the sudden death of James Politis in December, 1976 and the retirement of Victor Just, Trudy Kane won the audition for the Principal Flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. She served in the first chair postion for thiry-two seasons until retiring at the end of 2007-2008. Trudy Kane has been active during summers in the Waterloo Festival - New Jersey, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra - New York, and the Mostly Mozart Orchestra - New York City. In 2008, she joined the faculty of the Frost School of Music of the University of Miami, where she continues teaching and sharing her heritage with next generations of musicians.
Michael Parloff Michael graduated from the Juilliard School, class of 1974. He joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchesta in 1977, and served for 30 seasons. He teaches at the Manhattan School of Music. He was the founder and Artistic Director of Parlance Chamber Concerts in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson was born in Neskaupstadur, Iceland. In Iceland, he studied at the Reykjavik College of Music. He then relocated to the UK where he married and also studied with Peter Lloyd (1931- ) at the Royal Northern College of Music - Manchester. Stefán Höskuldsson joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra flute section in the 2004-2005 season. In the 2008-2009 season, Stefán Höskuldsson gained the Principal flute chair of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Prior to the MET, in 2006, Stefán Höskuldsson performed the Lowell Liebermann (1961- ) Flute Concerto with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Reykjavik. He has also been active in summer festivals, such as the Woodstock Mozart Festival - Illinois, where he was soloist. In 2016, Stefán Höskuldsson was appointed Principal flute of the Chicago Symphony by Riccard Muti.
Denis Bouriakov was born in 1981 in the Ukraine. As a youth, he gained entrance to the Moscow Central Special Music School, where he graduated in 2000. Bouriakov then entered the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he graduated with honors (honours!) in 2004. In the 2004-2005 season, Denis Bouriakov was appointed Principal flute with the Tampere Philharmonic - Finland. In 2008, Bouriakov won the competition for the Principal flute position with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. Also in 2008, he won the competition for the Principal flute position with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, being Co-Principal with Stefán Höskuldsson. Interestingly, Denis Bouriakov has recorded the Sibelius Violin Concerto, perhaps due to his years playing in Finland. In teaching, Bouriakov has for several years cooperated with William Bennett as his teaching assistant in the International Summer Schools in Farnham, Surrey, UK and in Chicago. In 2015, Denis Bouriakov was appointed Principal flute of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra by Gustavo Dudamel.
Seth Allyn Morris was born in 1984. He studied for a degree in Music Education and in music performance at the University of Kentucky. Then, persuing his musical career, he studied at the New England Conservatory where he earned his MMus. He also earned a doctorate in Music at the University of Michigan. He was Principal flute Houston Grand Opera 2012-2019. He was appointed Principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2019.
Chelsea Knox grew up in Connecticut. Her early training included the Hartt School of Music located in West Hartford, Connecticut. She later studied at the Juilliard School earning both her BMus and MMus. Prior to the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, she was Assistant Principal flute of the Baltimore Symphony and Principal Flute of the New Haven and Princeton Symphonies.
The MET maintains two horn Principals, due to the heavy work load. In recent years, this has comprised two "quartets" of horns, with a ninth horn as backup.
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 overcoat..."102 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 103. 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 persuit of a victim. His horn was slung across his back as he rode across the Boston Commons on his bicycle...'104.
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 Henri Leroy clarinet, Xavier Reiter horn, August Mesnard bassoon, Anton Fayer flute, and joined by Leopold Kramer, 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.' 105. Xavier Reiter died in May, 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 http://www.squiresproductions.com/ Thanks Gregg! )
Hermann (or Herman) Hand was born in Vienna, Austria where he studied first with his Musician father Ingnatz Hand. Herman Hand was later a horn student of Josef Schandel in Vienna 59 on August 17, 1875. Hermann Hand was Principal horn at the Vienna Staatsoper in the early 1890s. He emigrated to New York City in November 1900. In New York, Hand was one of the initial teachers at the Institute of Musical Art 59. During the 1905-1906 season, Hermann Hand was Principal horn of the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch. Then, beginning 1906, Hermann Hand was Principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at least during 1906-1907, and perhaps in the two later seasons. Hand was in 1910-1911 a horn in the John Philip Sousa Band 98 including the Sousa world tour in 1911. In the 1910s, Hermann Hand was a New York City theater orchestra musician, playing in musical productions under the conductor Victor Baravalle (1885–1939) of later Broadway fame (later, Showboat and other Jerome Kern musicals). In March 1923, Hermann Hand joined the Paul Whiteman Band in their tour to the United Kingdom. In the late 1920s, Hermann Hand moved to Hollywood where he played in the film studios, including MGM. He lived in Beverly Hills, and died in Los Angeles, California on December 1, 1951.
Richard Lindenhahn born in Germany June 13, 1877. He played horn in Amsterdam, prior to relocation to New York in 1909. He joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1909-1910 season, and became Principal MET horn in the 1910-1911 season. For 23 1/2 seasons, from 1911 - 1934, Richard Lindenhahn was Principal horn of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra under conductors Emil Oberhoffer (1867-1933) and Henri Verbrugghen (1873-1934). Lindenhahn also taught horn at the University of Minnesota during the period he was at Minneapolis. Lindenhahn played for a time in the Sousa Band. Richard Lindenhahn died in November 7, 1934 in Minneapolis at age 57 after having hurried to a rehearsal of Ein Heldenleben 27.
Joseph Avallone was born in Salerno, Italy January 1, 1895, and came to the U.S. with his family in 1911. He began study of the horn in Italy when he was 7. In the 1940s, he also played Principal horn in the orchestra of the Bell Telephone Hour.
Richard Moore was born in Minnesota in 1914. His father, William Moore was an Entomologist and amateur musician. Richard Moore studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, and later studied with Lorenzo Sansone (1881-1975) in New York City. He was a graduate student at the Juilliard School in the mid-1930s, studying with Josef Franzl 1882-1955. In the summer of 1936, Richard Moore was Second horn of the Chautauqua Orchestra in New York. In about 1937-1938 Richard Moore was Principal horn of the National Symphony of Washington DC, and then Assistant Principal horn of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner in 1938-1939. In 1940 Richard Moore played horn in the orchestra of the Radio City Music Hall. At that time, he was an active free-lance musician in New York City, and briefly played in Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra. Then, in the 1942-1943 season, Richard Moore entered the horn section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, but almost immediately he entered the World War 2 armed forces. Richard Moore was Principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera for 22 seasons, 1942-1964, playing next to Principal horn Gunther Schuller most of that time. He continued in the horn section, with a total of 43 seasons of service with the Metropolitan opera 1942-1985. During this time, Moore continued to be active in the New York freelance scene. According to the Horn Call, the journal of the International Horn Society, Richard Moore was particularly proud of the recordings of Engelbert Humperdink's Hansel and Gretel in 1947, Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti conducted by Fritz Stiedry, and the famous performance of Richard Strauss's Salome with Lujba Welitch and Kerstin Thorborg conducted by Fritz Reiner in December 1949. For two decades Richard Moore taught at the Manhattan School of Music, and he published several volumes of exercises and practice instruction for the horn, still widely used. Richard Moore died in New York in 1989.
As a youth, David Rattner took lessons at the New York College of Music. He then gained admission to the Juilliard School He further studied Music Education at New York University and at Columbia University. This was followed by graduate work at the Juilliard School 124. David Rattner played in the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra in 1939-1960. The Radio City group had the advantage in that era of year-around employment, unlike the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, or any US symphony orchestra, except the Boston Symphony. In New York City at that time, Rattner also freelanced, including playing in radio staff orchestras for CBS New York, NBC New York and WOR radio New York. Rattner played at the Woodstock Music Festival in the Summers of 1948 and 1949 After retiring from the Metropolitan Opera, David Rattner continued to teach at the Hyde Park School System in New York.
Gunther Schuller at the beginning of his Metropolitan Opera career
Gunther Schuller born November 22, 1925 in New York to a New York Philharmonic violinist father Arthur Schuller. Arthur Schuller (1900-1992), whose father was also a musician and conductor, had studied at the Berlin Akademische Hochschule für Musik and had emigrated to the US in 1923. Gunther Schuller studied both flute and horn as well as musical theory and composition at the Manhattan School of Music. At age 17, Gunther Schuller was appointed Principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony where he served two seasons 1943-1945. Then, in the 1945-1946 season, Gunther Schuller entered the horn section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In his wonderful, newly published autobiography Gunther Schuller: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty, Schuller writes: "...I was now approaching my fifth year at the Met ... [and] my full promotion to co-principal horn. David Rattner was relieved of his position near the end of the 1949–50 season, and I was told sometime on the spring tour that Max Rudolf, Fritz Reiner, and Fritz Stiedry had all recommended that, without need for an audition, I be moved up to first horn ... "
Gunther Schuller:: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty - Boydell & Brewer, Limited. 125
Gunther Schuller also taught music at this alma mater: the Manhattan School of Music 1950-1963. Living in Boston, he was also President of the New England Conservatory 1966-1977. Schuller has wrotten more than 190 compositions, including winning the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Music. A recent example is Where the Word Ends which was given its premiere by the Boston Symphony in 2009 126. He has also been active in both chamber music and as a jazz musician (and writing books and articles on the history of Jazz). Gunther Schuller was the Spokane Symphony - Washington Principal conductor beginning 1984, and was Artistic Director of the Festival at Sandpoint - Washington 1985-1999, and the Northwest Bach Festival.
Silvio Coscia was born in Milan, Italy November 27, 1899 and came to the U.S. in 1921. He told interviewers that his father had come to New York with Metropolitan Opera manager Gatti-Casazza, and that his father and brother sang in the Metropolitan Opera chorus 30. Silvio Coscia was co-Principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 34 seasons from 1930 to 1964. Coscia composed a number of works for horn, including 'Faust in the Forest' and chamber works for horn. Silvio Coscia retired from the MET orchestra at the retirement age of 65 at the end of the 1963-1964 season. He was still active in teaching, including the New England Conservatory in Boston in 1972. Silvio Coscia died in Watertown, Massachusetts on September 15, 1977.
Clarendon Van Norman was born in Illinois on August 23, 1930. He grew up in Galesburg, a rural town some 100 km south west of Chicago. He went on to study for one year at the Eastman School of Music. Van Norman then relocated to the Juilliard School. For two seasons, 1958-1960, Van Norman was Principal horn of the Buffalo Philharmonic under Josef Krips. He then joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Third horn and later Principal horn during the 1960-1962 seasons. In the 1963-1964 season, Van Norman was selected as Principal horn of the Chicago Symphony during the first season of the new Chicago Symphony Music Director Jean Martinon. He remained in the Principal position for two seasons 1963-1965, and was succeeded by Dale Clevenger. After Chicago, Van Norman organized the Clarion Wind Quintet: Philip Dunigan flute, Stephen Adelstein oboe, Robert Listokin clarinet, Mark Popkin bassoon and Clarendon Van Norman horn 107, which was mainly based in New York City. The Clarion Wind Quintet was also resident at the North Carolina School of the Arts in the later 1960s. Back in New York City, Van Norman rejoined the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera as Principal horn in 1964. He remained Principal for 18 further seasons until 1982. Carendon Van Norman then took the MET Third horn chair 1982-1990 after which he retired. Also while in New York, Van Norman studied at the Teachers College of Columbia University to support his work in music education. He earned his Ed.D. degree in 1965. Van Norman also chaired the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Committee for several years and was active in the negotiation of contracts for the orchestra. While in New York City, Clarendon Van Norman also taught at the Manhattan School of Music. Van Norman's father, Clarendon Van Norman Sr. was a collector of Americana, and particularly items of Abraham Lincoln. This collection in Galesburg was expanded by Van Norman father and son. The collection was particularly strong in Americana of Abraham Lincoln, the State of Illinois, and more generally in western Americana antiquarian books, pamphlets and manuscripts. Clare Van Norman moved this large collection to his home in Sullivan County in rural New York, organizing the Wantagh Rare Book Company.
Clarendon Van Norman reviewing the Knox College collection
Much of this collection was later donated by Clarendon Van Norman to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, to Knox College in his native Galesburg, Illinois and in 2010 donated to the Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Howard T. Howard (r) with Principal horn colleague Julie Landsman in the 1990s
Howard T. Howard was born in Montana. He studied at the University of Michigan where he earned his BMus. Prior to the Metropolitan Opera, Howard played in the Detroit Symphony. He joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1961-1962 season, and became Co-Principal horn the next year in the 1962-1963 season. Howard Howard retired from the MET Orchestra at the end of the 2006-2007 season, after 45 seasons with the Orchestra (where he was also famous for his long-running poker games as well as for his gifted musicianship).
Julie Landsman was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 3, 1953. She after winning her audition at the Julliard School, whe studied with James Chambers, Philadelphia Orchestra Principal horn. Julie Landsman prior to the Metropolitan Opera was Co-Principal horn of the Houston Symphony and Principal horn of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She has been active in summer music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival - Vermont, the Sarasota Music Festival - Florida, the La Jolla SummerFest - California, Chamber Music Northwest - Oregon and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival - New Mexico. Julie Landsman teaches at her alma mater, the Juilliard School and at Bard Conservatory. She also has conducted master classes in Norway, Sweden, and Israel.
MET Orchestra horn section circa 1999: (l to r): Scott Brubaker, Michelle Reed Baker, (unidentified), Julie Landsman
Joseph Anderer was born in Philadelphia in 1950. While in Philadelphia, as a young musician, he studied at the Settlement Music School. Then Joseph Anderer won his audition to study the Juilliard School. At Juilliard, he studied primarily with Ranier De Intinis, York Philharmonic horn 1950-1993. Joseph Anderer joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1984. He served as Principal horn during the 2003-2004 season. He has been active in summer music festivals, he was featured in the Caramoor Festival - New York, Bargemusic - Brooklyn, Mt. Desert Island Festival - Maine. Anderer was has been active with the Boehm Woodwind Quintet including in several CDs, including Music of Irwin Bazelon (1922-1995), conducted by Gunther Schuller (see below).
Joseph Anderer was also a founding member of the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the New York City-based chamber orchestra, with which he has been active all during his MET career. With St. Luke's, Joseph Anderer was the soloist in the American premiere of Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal at Carnegie Hall on April 15, 1988. Joseph Anderer also performed at Herman Prey's last New York recital prior to his death, in Schubert's Auf dem Strom with both Hermann Prey and James Levine. He is also active as a New York sessions musicians, including everything from commercials to albums by Dawn Upshaw, Billy Joel, Mandy Patinkin, Grover Washington, Jr, Marcus Roberts, and Tony Bennett. With the great Metropolitan Opera Orchestra today, Joseph Anderer continues the MET's rich horn section tradition of virtuosity at the service of opera.
Erik Ralske was born on Long Island, New York on December 5, 1957. Ralske studied at the Juilliard School, earning his Bachelor of Music in 1980 and Master of Music degree in 1982. Erik Ralske began a strong orchestral career as Principal horn with the Tulsa Philharmonic - Oklahoma 1982-1983 and with the Florida Symphony in Orlando 1983-1984. He was then Principal horn with the Vancouver Symphony 1984-1987 and Associate Principal with the Houston Symphony Orchestra 1987-1993. Erik Ralske then joined the New York Philharmonic, where he served 1993-2010. At the Philharmonic, Erik Ralske was Third horn just as his Juilliard teacher (and the teacher of Joseph Anderer) Ranier De Intinis had been. Erik Ralske was also for several years New York Philharmonic Acting Associate Principal. After auditioning with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and with the Metropolitan Opera, with offers from both to become Principal horn, Ralske decided in May 2010 to accept the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra offer. So, beginning in the 2010-2011 season, Erik Ralske succeeded Julie Landsman, joining his fellow Principal horn, Joseph Anderer. Erik Ralske teaches at the Manhattan School of Music, and at the Mannes College of Music. He has also been active in summer music festivals, including the Seattle Chamber Music Festival - Washington and the Vancouver Chamber Music Festivals - British Columbia. His rich and varied orchestral career has been further enriched with the repertoire of the great operas.
(l) Howard Wall, Principal horn of the New York Philharmonic and (r) Eric Ralske MET Principal horn
1883 - 1884 Signor Cavazza (One Season)
1883 - 1884 Signor Pallemans (One Season)
1884 - 1899 No historical records are available
Herbert L. Clarke, one of the most famous cornet soloists in the U.S. in the early part of the Twentieth century at a time when cornet playing was at its height. Herbert Clarke was bon in Woburn, Massachusetts on September 12, 1867. Clarke's father was a musician and organist, and Clarke's early musical education was on the violin. Because of his father's organist profession, the family moved often, and to Toronto in 1880. Herbert Clarke first studied violin, and interestingly, in 1881, at age 14, he was a second violinist in the Toronto Philharmonic. However, Clarke states in his autobiography that also in 1881, the American Band visited Toronto, where Clarke heard the cornet playing of Bowen R. Church. In the United States at the time, and until about the 1930s, there was a great entertainment tradition of cornet solo playing with bands, lost in today's availability of music from numerous sources. In 1893, Clarke joined the Sousa Band as a cornet soloist. In 1893, Clarke also played in the Chicago World's Fair, continuing to play with different bands during the mid-1890s. In about the 1898-1899 season, Herbert L. Clarke was second trumpet with the New York Philharmonic under Emil Paur. The next season, 1899-1900, Herbert Clark was Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. From abotu 1900 to 1917, Herbert L. Clarke played again in the Sousa Band, including leading it in recording sessions of the Sousa Band for Victor Talking Machine Company. Clarke also recorded for the Edison, Columbia, and Brunswick labels. 1917-1923, Herbert Clarke returned to Ontario, Canada where he directed a band, composed, and taught trumpet. In 1923, Herbert Clarke and his wife moved to Long Beach, California for his wife's health. In California, Clarke Long Beach Municipal Band until 1943. Herbert L. Clarke died in Long Beach on January 30, 1945.
Herman Basse was born in Goslar, near Hannover, Germany in February 18, 1866 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1893 with his wife Johannah and baby daughter to New York City, becoming a citizen in 1902. From 1899-1904, Basse was Principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic. During the 1904-1905 season, Basse was Principal Trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Fritz Scheel. With the next season, 1905-1906 and until the end of the 1911-1912 season, he was again solo trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. In 1912-1914, Besse was Principal trumpet of the of the Chicago Grand Opera Company under Cleofonte Campanini (1860-1919). In the 1914-1915 season, Basse again joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as Principal trumpet under Leopold Stokowski. After that season, Basse then remained with the Philadelphia Orchestra 1915-1917, but relinquished the first chair trumpet position to Harry Glantz. In 1917, Basse left the Philadelphia Orchestra, and went to the Detroit Symphony trumpet section. Basse later retired to Florida where he lived at least until 1937.
Oscar Saul was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1868 of German parents. His father William Saul, born in Germany in 1826, and his brother Theodore Saul, born in New York City in 1848 were also a musicians. Oscar Saul was co-Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for six seasons, 1899-1905, alternating with his colleague Principal trumpet Herman Basse. Saul continued to be a private musician into the 1920s in New York City.
Louis Penzkoffer (or Penzkofer) was born in Germany in 1847, and was solo trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for one season.
Edwin Franko Goldman was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 1, 1878. His mother was Selma Franko Goldman, of the musically famous Franko family, and Nahan Franko was his uncle. In the late 1880s, after his family relocated to New York City, Goldman studied cornet with George Wiegand at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Goldman then won a scholarship to enter t he National Conservatory of Music in New York, of which Dvorak was Director. There, Goldman studied composition and cornet/trumpet with Jules Levy and Carl Sohst. In 1893, Edwin Franko Goldman began playing trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, at a time when his uncle, Nahan Franko was Concertmaster of the MET Orchestra. Goldman was named Principal trumpet at the MET in the 1901-1902 season. After nine seasons at the Metropolitan Opera, in 1911, Edwin Franco Goldman founded the New York Military Band, later in 1920 became known as the Goldman Band. The Goldman Band was famous during the next 40 years, including in radio broadcasting. Goldman was an active band composer, primarily of marches, including his most famous march 'On the Mall'. Edwin Franko Goldman died in New York on February 21, 1956, age 79.
Christian Rodenkirchen was born in Hennef, 30 km south of Cologne, Germany on February 19, 1858. Rodenkirchen played cornet in a regimental band in Cologne in 1883 34. Shortly thereafter, Christian Rodenkirchen emigrated to the US, and seems to have settled first in the Chicago area. During his constantly changing career Rodenkirchen was first trumpet of a number of leading American Orchestras from 1891 to 1915. In 1890, he was a member of a mid-west touring orchestra, the Aamold Concert Company, conducted by August Aamold (1863-after 1930). Rodenkirchen joined the trumpet section at the founding of the Chicago Symphony in the 1891-1892 season as first cornet. Rodenkirchen was first cornet and then Principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony for eleven seasons, 1891-1902. He then seems to have had a falling-out with Theodore Thomas, and Rodenkirchen's contract for the next season was not renewed. Rodenkirchen then became Principal trumpet of the New York Symphony during the 1903-1904 season under Walter Damrosch. The next season, Rodenkirchen became Principal Trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera for the 1904-1905 season. Continuing his peripatetic career journey, Christian Rodenkirchen then joined the New York Philharmonic as first trumpet from 1905-1907. In New York in 1907, Rodenkirchen married his second wife, Mary McNally, 20 years younger.
Christian Rodenkirchen with wife Mary McNally in about 1910
He moved to the Philadelphia Orchestra for two seasons as Principal trumpet under Karl Pohlig 1907-1909. Rodenkirchen then returned to the New York Philharmonic (it would seem as first trumpet) from 1909-1911 during the years of Gustav Mahler as Music Director 34. Rodenkirchen then returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra as second trumpet from 1911 until his early death on February 6, 1915, just days before his 57th birthday. Because of his early death, Christian Rodenkirchen did not finish the Philadelphia Orchestra 1914-1915 season, ending his restless career. Christian Rodenkirchen, through his many students was, like Max Schlossberg (1873-1936), an early creator of what became to be considered an American school of trumpet playing 114.
1909 - 1923 Jacob Hager Principal trumpet
1912-1919 Pietro Capodiferro Principal trumpet
Pietro Capodiferro in 1928
Pietro Capodiferro was born in Bari in the boot of Italy on 7 October 1882. He emigrated to the USA with his family in 1899. He joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1912-1913 season as Principal trumpet. He was Co-Principal with Jacob Hager, and in the section Frank Chiaffarelli and Max Voigt. Immediately after the Metropolitan Opera for a short time, Pietro Capodiferro directed the orchestra of Oscar Hammerstein's Manhattan Opera Company. The, in the early 1920s, Capodiferro became Principal trumpet with the Capital Theater. In the later 1920s, he became Principal trumpet of the Roxy Theater orchestra. Both these theater orchestras were year-around well-paying employments. Musicians of the Roxy Theater played four engagements each day - they earned their money ! He also was a New York City based radio musician in the later 1920s and early 1930s. Pietro Capodiferro died in New York on 10 May 1953, at age 70.
Frank Chiaffarelli was born in Italy on 4 April 1870 and emigrated to New York City with his family in April 1885. He was a member of the Metropolitan Opera trumpet section for several seasons, and was Co-Principal trumpet for the 1918-1919 season when he replaced Pietro Capodiferro who was ill. Frank Chiaffarelli died in New York City just after his 96th birthday on 6 April 1966.
John (or Giovanni) Nappi was born in Italy on 4 November 1883. He emigrated to New York City in 1906. John Nappi was Principal trumpet for twenty years, with some gaps when others took the Principal chair. John Nappi died in New York City on 30 April 1939, age only 55. With Nappi's Principal trumpet position with the the Metropolitan Opera open, William Vacchiano auditioned for the position. He was accepted by the MET as Principal trumpet. However, the same day, a Monday, Vacchiano also auditioned for the New York Philharmonic and also was immediately accepted as Principal trumpet 130. In this way, Vacchiano entered his long career as Principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic. John Nappi was succeded as Principal trumpet by Isadore Blank, who went on to 33 year career at the MET.
Joseph Alessi was born in Italy on March 4, 1876 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1890. In 1901, he married Josephine Interrante, and in 1910, they lived in Brooklyn, New York where Joseph was cornet player in a band. In the 1920-1921 season, Alessi became Co-Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera, with John Nappi and Philip de Blasi. He later played trumpet with the NBC Symphony. He was father to Joe Alessi, Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and grandfather of Philadelphia Orchestra Musician Joseph Alessi, Jr . (1959- ), second trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1981-1984 and Principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic 1984-present. Joseph Alessi Sr. taught at the Manhattan School of Music and played trumpet in the NBC Symphony.
Philip de Blasi was born in Naples, Italy on 3 February 1890. As a child, he emigrated to New York City with his family in 1898. His was a musical family, and his older brother Thomas de Blasi was also a musician. In World War II, he served with a US Army band 1943-1947. His son, Francesco de Blasi was also an orchestral trumpet, playing with the Detroit Symphony which he also occasionally conducted.
Edmondo Botti was born in Modena, Italy, near Bologna on April 19, 1882. After study with his musician father, Edmondo Botti entered the Royal Conservatory of Music, Bologna where he graduated in 1898 129. Edmondo Botti was trumpet with the orchestra of La Scala, Milan for about 20 seasons. Botti then emigrated to New York City at age 42 in 1924. He became a staff musician with the NBC radio orchestra in New York. In the 1930-1931 season, he was named to join Philip de Blasi as Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. Botti served as Principal for 13 seasons until his early death. Edmondo Botti died suddenly in New York City on August 22, 1943, age 61.
Humbert Pennino was born in New Jersey on 14 September 1907. He studied first with his Italian-born musician father Frank Pennino, who outlived Humbert. Humbert Pennino joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Principal trumpet in 1934. He was then a Principal trumpet of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra under Frank Black 1935-1940. He then played trumpet with the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanin during 1937-1945. After the NBC Symphony, Humbert Pennino moved to Los Angeles where he opened a store with musical instruments and instruction. Humbert Pennino died of cancer in Los Angeles at the young age of 47 on 6 March 1955.
Isadore Blank photo: Sedge LeBlang circa early 1950s
Isidore Blank [note: seems to have been Isidore, although sometimes listed as "Isadore"] was born in New York City in 1913. He studied first with his Russian-born musician father Jacob Blank, who was a cornet player and who also operated a music store. Blank later studied with the legendary teacher Max Schlossberg (1873-1936) 122. Isadore Blank was appointed Co-Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1939-1940 season, serving at that time a the alternate Principal trumpet with Edmondo Botti. Isidore Blank served as Principal trumpet with the MET for thirty-three seasons. He was also an active teacher. David Berkowitz, long-time MET violinist recalled that often the things that Isidore "Izzy" Blank said seemed to come out comically, even though Blank was serious. Berkowitz tells the story about the gifted first horn of the MET, Joseph Avallone, normally mild-mannered, becoming enraged at a critic in the New York Herald Tribune, writing of a horn error by the MET orchestra in the overture to Fidelio. As Berkowitz tells it, Joseph Avallone shouted "...'stupido, doesn't he know this is one of the most difficult passages written for the horn', and then smashed his horn against the brick wall. Izzy Blank, whose father had a musical instrument store then said 'don't worry Joe, my father will fix it for you cheap'..." 29.
Raymond Crisara at the university of Texas
Raymond Crisara was born in New York in 1920. He studied as a teen with Ernest Williams at the Ernest Williams School of Music in Brooklyn, He was then invited by William Revelli (1902-1994) to study with him at the University of Michigan where Revelli was Director of Bands. His Wikipedia biography says that Revelli "...recruited talented musicians to Michigan like a football coach recruited top athletes..." 123. After the University of Michigan, Raymond Crisara played solo trumpet with the New York City-based Goldman Band. Then in the 1941-1942 season, Raymond Crisara was appointed Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Crisara entered the US Army in 1942. After World War 2, Raymond Crisara joined the staff orchestra of NBC radio in New York City, which had the advantage of year-around employment, which neither the MET nor any symphony orchestra of that era, other than the Boston Symphony, could offer. This led to his playing with Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra in the late 1940s. After retiring from orchestral playing, Raymond Crisara pursued a lengthy tenure at the University of Texas - Austin teaching the next generation of orchestral trumpet musicians. A 90th birthday celebration of Raymond Crisara's career was held at the University of Texas - Austin on October 16, 2010. What a career!
Cecil Collins was born in Salina, Kansas on May 31, 1914. After playing trumpet in high school, he studied at Kansas State University (or Kansas State College as it then was). William Vacchiano said that Cecil Collins was his first trumpet student, the first of hundreds of trumpet players taught by Vacchiano. On the sudden death of Edmondo Botti just prior to the beginning of the Metropolitan Opera 1943-1944 season, Cecil Collins was named Principal trumpet, joining Isidore Blank. During World War 2, Cecil Collins was Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera for 3 seasons 1943-1946 (he does not seem to have served in the US Army, although he was an ROTC student at Kansas State 128). In New York, Cecil Collins taught extensively at the Manhattan School of Music. Cecil Collins died in Connecticut on November 3, 1988, age 74.
Ben Grauer was born in New York City in 1918. He studied at the City College of New York, Class of 1939.
1946-1959 Joe Alessi Principal (son of Joseph Alessi)
Joe Alessi photo: Sedge LeBlang circa 1950
Joe Alessi was born In Brooklyn, New York City on September 2, 1915, and grew up in Norwood, New Jersey, a suburb of New York. At age 11, he began study of the trumpet with his father, Joseph Alessi, Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera 1920-1927. He was admitted to the Julliard School, where he studied with Max Schlossberg. Alessi later studied with William Vacchiano, and Harry Glanz. He was in the Army during World War 2, and upon discharge in 1945, played with the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, and the New York City Symphony under Leonard Bernstein. Beginning with the 1946-1947 season, Joe Alessi became Principal trumpet, along with Ben Grauer, and then Leonard Henkle of the Metropolitan Opera. Joe Alessi was father of Joseph Alessi, Jr. (1959- ), Principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic. In 1959, leaving the Metropolitan Opera, Joe Alessi with his wife Maria, a former soprano at the Metropolitan Opera moved to Las Vegas where he performed trumpet and trombone at the Las Vegas hotels. In 1959, their son, Joseph Alessi, Jr. future Principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic was born in Detroit, Michigan. Another son, Ralph Alessi, born in March, 1963 became a leading Jazz trumpeter. Then, for the 1960-1961 season, Joe Alessi joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra as Assistant Principal trumpet. Alessi then embarked on a career as music teacher, teaching at Aptos Junior High School (50 km south of San Francisco), City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. Joe Alessi was father of Joseph Alessi, Jr. (1959- ), second trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1981-1984 and Principal trombone of the New York Philharmonic 1984-present. He was also married to Maria Leone Alessi who was a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera company. Incidentally, Joe Alessi, according to his son was a very good baseball player, and considered a professional baseball career. Joe Alessi died in San Rafael, California on December 24, 2004, aged 89.
Leonard Henkle was born in New York City on September 1, 1917. He studied first with his Russian-Ukrainian-Jewish emigrant father Ralph Lasar Henkle (1888-1973) who was a music teacher, and later played in the New York Philharmonic. Leonard Henkle was also one of the many orchestral trumpets who studied with William Vacchiano. Leonard Henkle was also Principal trumpet of the Detroit Symphony 1943-1944 under Karl Krueger. Leonard Henkle was appointed Co-Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the 1948-1949 season. He served in the first chair of the trumpet section for nine seasons 1948-1957. Leonard Henkle died on August 23, 1990 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Melvyn "Mel" Broiles was born in Kansas in September 4, 1929. He learned to play the trumpet in second grade in Salina, Kansas. At the time of World War 2, while still a teenager, Melvyn Broiles moved to the Los Angeles area where he played in dance bands. Broiles was admitted to Juilliard in September, 1950, and became one of the many great artists who trained with William Vacchiano. While at Juilliard, Broiles also toured for 3 months in Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia with the Symphony of the Air, made up primarily of former musicians of Toscanini's NBC Symphony. Broiles was also a New York free-lance musician. During the period of the Korean War, from 1951-1955 Mel Broiles was in the US Army and served with the West Point Military Academy Band. Mel Broiles also played in the Metropolitan Opera stage band in 1956. In the 1957-1958 season, Eugene Ormandy decided to make a change in the Principal trumpet position. He selected Melvyn Broiles to become Co-Principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra with Samuel Krauss for the 1957-1958 season. The Philadelphia Orchestra rosters show Melvin Broiles as Associate Principal trumpet, but contemporary records, and the International Trumpet Guild Journal notes of April, 2004 119 state that Melvyn Broils was Co-Principal in Philadelphia for one season. In the 1958-1959 season Mel Broiles returned to the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Co-Principal trumpet, where he remained as Principal until his retirement in July of 2001. Melvyn Broiles also taught at his alma mater, the Juilliard school for three decades 1971-2001. Melvyn Broiles died in New York City August 26, 2003, age 73.
The great Mark Gould recounts a memory of the great Melvyn Broiles to New York trumpet player Josh Frank 120: "...My first year at the MET in 1974, in a run of performances of Elektra, (I was playing Fifth trumpet) Mel Broiles used to hold the high concert 'D' in the Recognition scene so long and so loud, he used to black out or white out. The Third trumpet player, Harry Peers, used to rub Mel's shoulder after this note to wake him up and get him ready for the next entrance. I remember hearing Harry whispering the countdown to the next entrance as Mel slowly revived, his head bobbing slowly, his eyes again beginning to focus. He 'woke up' just in time for the next big toot. When I asked him about this passage, Mel told me, 'men die in battle to the sound of the trumpet', and then walked away. WOW!! There will never be another Mel Broiles..."
Harry Del Peers was born in New York on March 6, 1925, and took up the trumpet early. At age 16, he was admitted to the Curtis Institute, studying with Sol Caston, where he graduated in the Class of 1942. Harry Peers was Principal trumpet with the National Symphony of Washington DC following Curtis. He also attended the Tanglewood Summer sessions in about 1942. He was briefly in a US Army band at the end of World War 2, and then was a staff musician with NBC in New York City. Harry Peers joined the Metropolitan Opera orchestrra in the 1947-1948 season. He was initially Second trumpet and then Third trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In the 1972-1973 season, James Levine advanced Harry Del Peers to the first stand as Principal trumpet. From 1974 to his retirement in 1988, Harry Peers was Third trumpet in the MET orchestra. Harry Peers married Judith Thelen Peers, a dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Following his retirement, he continued to teach in New York City. Harry Peers in New York on January 20, 2012, age 86 after a full career including 41 seasons with the MET.
Mark Gould early in his MET tenure and more recently (right photo Peter Schaefer)
Mark Gould was born in New York City. He studied at Boston University where he earned this BMus. Mark Gould joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Principal trumpet in the 1973-1974 season. He is also Director of the New York Trumpet Ensemble, a brass chamber group which he co-founded. The Ensemble consists of Thomas Bontrager, a classically trained trumpet musician who frequently plays jazz, Scott Thornburg Principal trumpet of several orchestras, including New York City Symphony and the Orchestra of St. Lukes, David Bilger now Principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Mark Gould. Click on the thumbnail below to see an early picture of the New York Trumpet Ensemble, with the musicians listed above shown left to right.
Mark Gould also plays in the New York-based the Main Street Band. Mark Gould has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School since 1982, as well as teaching at the Manhattan School since 2004. Both respected and well-liked for his stimulating sense of humor, Mark Gould retired from the Metropolitan Opera at the end of the 2002-2003 season at the top of his art. He has been active in music festivals, including the Waterloo Festival - New Jersey, the Caramoor Festival - New York, and the Vermont Mozart Festival. He also has been active as the frequent guest with Speculum Musicae, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the MET Chamber Ensemble, the Empire Brass, the Canadian Brass, the Summit Brass, the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble, and Extension Ensemble. He recorded the Bach Brandenburg Concerto no 2 with its exciting high trumpet part, with the Philharmonia Virtuosi for Sony Records. Mark Gould has also been active as an orchestral conductor following the MET. So, he continues his full and active career in both teaching and performing.
David Krauss was born in Long Island, New York in about 1971. David Krauss attended the Juilliard pre-college division. While a student, he had interesting early experience when at the age of 10 he sang in the Metropolitan Opera Children's chorus. David Krauss studied at the Julliard School with such greats as William Vacchiano and Chris Gekker. At Juilliard, Krauss gained both his BMus and MMus. Prior to joining the MET, Krauss was an active New York freelance musician. As a freelance, Krauss played with a wide variety of groups, including: the Orchestra of St Lukes, the New Jersey Symphony, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New England Bach Festival Orchestra, and with several Broadway shows. David Krauss was appointed Co-Principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in April, 2001. During his career, David Krauss has also been active in summer music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival - Vermont and the Saito Kinen Festival - Japan.
Billy Ray Hunter was born on October 15, 1974 in Austin, Texas. He also studied in Austin at the University of Texas where he earned his BMus in 1997 studying with Raymond Crisara 121. He studied further at the Juilliard School including with his predecessor as Principal trumpet Mark Gould. Early in his career, Billy Ray Hunter played as a freelance musician including with at Disney World, Florida 121. Billy Ray Hunter broke into the orchestral world by a progression of posts, including playing with the the Baltimore Symphony, the New World Symphony in Florida (a training orchestra for young orchestral musicians), the Spoleto Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Music Center orchestra. In 2004, Billy Ray Hunter won the very competitive auditions for the open Co-Principal trumpet postion with the Metropolitan Opera, joining the Orchestra in the 2004-2005 season, where he continues the tradition of MET trumpet greatness. His continues to be a musical family - he is married to Bulgarian-born pianist Anna Stoytcheva who is also a Juilliard graduate.
Otto Gebhardt circa 1916
Otto J. H. Gebhardt was born in Germany in July, 1864. He studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory where it was said he was a classmate of Tchaikovsky. After the Conservatory, he played in Russian orchestras 240. Otto Gebhardt emigrated to the USA in 1885. In the first season of the Chicago Orchestra, Theodore Thomas selected Otto Gebhardt as the first Principal trombone of the orchestra. Otto Gebhard served in Chicago for thirteen seasons 1891-1904. In summers, he performed with a series of bands and salon orchestras, including Bellstedt-Ballenberg Concert Band in 1897 and at the "1899 Greater America Exposition" in Omaha, Principal trombone of the Minneapolis Park Band under conductor Emil Oberhoffer in 1904 and 1905 199. Also Oberhoffer's Lake Harriot concert band in Minneapolis and the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra in the summer of 1909. Otto Gebhardt was Principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 1904-1911.
In this era, no American orchestra offered year-around employment, so orchestra musicians worked in a series of groups for summer employment. After the Chicago Symphony, Otto Gebhardt was was Principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 1904-1911. For nine seasons, 1911-1920, Otto Gebhardt was Minneapolis Symphony Principal trombone under Emil Oberhoffer (1903-1922). Otto Gebhardt died suddenly of a heart attack in Minneapolis on 5 November 1920 during the 1920-1921 Minneapolis Symphony season age only 56. 241.
Simone Belgiorno (or Simon) was born in Salerno (south of Naples), Italy on 19 April 1888. He emigrated to the USA arriving in Boston in 1906 at age 18. He became Assistant Principal trombone of the Boston Symphony 1914-1918. He was also Cincinnati Symphony Principal trombone. Belgiorno was Principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 1922-1925. After the Metropolitan opera, Simone Belgiorno was Cleveland Orchestra Principal trombone 1926-1928. In Philadelphia, he was Principal trombone 1930-1931, being one of the musicians terminated by Leopold Stokowski in 1930. According to trombonist Harold McKinney, Simone Belgiorno "only lasted 14 weeks with Stokowski...", so apparently did not finish the 1930-1931 season in which Stokowski fired a dozen other orchestra musicians. While in Philadelphia, Belgiorno taught at the Curtis Institute in 1930. After Philadelphia, Simone Belgiorno returned to New York City where he was an active Broadway theater musician. Later in 1940 he was conductor of groups in New Orleans and Shreveport Louisiana and later in Texas.
1944-1950 Roger R. Smith Principal trombone
Roger R. Smith was born in 1915 Mays Landing, New Jersey. He was active as lead trombone in the Goldman Band of New York City in the 1940s. In the 1940s, he was a New York Broadway theater musician. He taught at the Williams Music Camp in the 1940s, While at the MET, Roger Smith also taught at the Juilliard School.
1948-1954 Earl H. Leavitt Principal trombone
The Philadelphia Orchestra trombone section in early 1948:
(l to r) Robert Lambert, Charles Gusikoff, Earl H. Leavitt, Robert S. Harper
Earl H. Leavitt (sometimes spelled 'Earle' in newspaper accounts, but was 'Earl' in all official documents) was born in Rochester New York on 2 July 1919. Earl Leavitt was in the trombone section of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1945-1948. He then joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra serving 1945-1954. Earl Leavitt was a 'substitute trombone' in the New York Philharmonic during their 1958 trip to the Soviet Union under Leonard Bernstein. 133
Per Brevig was born in Halden, Norway on September 7, 1938. After study and playing in bands as a teen, at age 17 he was engaged as the euphonium soloist with a national military band. After three years in the military band, during which time he was a frequent soloist in concerts and radio broadcasts. Then, Per Brevig appointed Principal trombone of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Brevig then received a scholarship to study in Denmark with Palmer Traulsen, Principal trombone of the Royal Danish Opera Orchestra in about 1958-1959. Per Brevig then gained admission to the Juilliard School in 1959. After Juilliard, Per Brevig returned to the Bergen Philharmonic until 1965. At that time he was also a Tanglewood fellow in the summer of 1965. In 1965, Per Brevig was also appointed Principal trombone of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York by Leopold Stokowski. In the 1968-1969 season, Per Brevig was appointed Principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He also began teaching at the Juilliard School, where he also gained his Doctorate in Music in 1975. Brevig also gave a series of trombone recitals in New York City including of new music by Berio and other contemporary composers, including contemporary Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim. In 1991, with Nordheim as composer-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival - Colorado, Brevig introduced the Nordheim works The Hunting of the Snark and the Return of the Snark. After retiring from the Metropolitan Opera in 1994, Per Brevig has continue to be active in teaching and concertizing. He has also been active as a conductor: in 2011, Per Brevig finished his nine-year tenure as Music Director of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra in Tyler, Texas.
David Langlitz was born in New York on February 8, 1953. He studied at the Juilliard School gaining his BMus in 1975 and MMus in 1976. Immediately following Juilliard, David Langlitz was appointed Principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra directly out of Juilliard. During his tenure, it was a particularly active period for the orchestra, including extensive touring in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Japan. He was also active in music festivals and in performance with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. He also studied film directing and editing, and his first Angel Passing which he wrote and directed, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won a number of awards.
Demian Austin was born in Kentucky on August 26, 1970. After high school Demian Austin studied at Oberlin College - Ohio BMus in 1992, and at the Juilliard School MMus 1995. After being appointed Principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the season, he was a founding member of the MET Chamber Ensemble. Demian Austin teaches at the pre-college and college sections of his alma mater, the Juilliard School. His violinist wife Joanna Michelle Maurer, also a Juilliard graduate played with the American Chamber Players in Washington DC.
John Romero was born in Texas in 1992, graduating from Longview High School in 2010. He then studied at Baylor University earning his BMus and then gained his MMus at the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University. John Romero was appointing Principal trombone of the MET Orchestra beginning in 2018. He was previously Principal trombone of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. As a teacher-clinician, he has taught master classes at the International Trombone Festival (Georgia), the Blast of Brass Festival (Texas), and the Juilliard School. He won competitions in France, Virginia, Texas, and Virginia.
The MET Orchestra trombones in 2018: (l to r) John Romero, Weston Sprott, Denson Paul Pollard, (unidentified), and Christopher J. Hall tuba
Timpani Principals of the Metropolitan Opera
circa 1905-1930 August Helmecke Principal timpani
August 'Gus' Helmecke was born in New York City on 7 July 1869. He was for 20 years the lead drummer for John Philip Sousa's traveling band during the summers, when the Metropolitan Opera was silent. August Helmecke was Principal timpani and percussionist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from about 1905 to the later 1920s. He continued with the MET Orchestra during the opera season, and toured with the Sousa band in summers. August Helmecke died in New York on February 26, 1954, age 83.
1967-1983 Fred D. Hinger Principal timpani
Fred Hinger was born in Ohio in 1920. He studied at the Eastman School of Music BMus Education and Performer's Certificate in Percussion 1942. He studied at the Western Reserve University MMus - Ohio about 1948. While in New York, Hinger headed the percussion programs at Yale University and at the Manhattan School of Music. Fred Hinger was Principal percussion of the Philadelphia Orchestra 1948-1951. He was also Rochester Philharmonic percussion and timpani while studying at the Eastman School. For his military service, Hinger was in the United States Navy Band in Washington DC from 1942-1948. After Philadelphia, Hinger becamer Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Principal timpani 1967-1983. He died in 2001.
Richard Samuel Horowitz was born in the Bronx, New York on 3 February 1924. His father was a cellist in New York City playing primarily on in silent-picture theater orchestras. He then became a movie-theater projectionist with the coming of sound. His mother, who taught violin and piano, would recall that 2-year-old Dick possessed perfect pitch. Richard Horowitz studied at the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, then at Brooklyn College and finally the Juilliard School, graduating in about 1945. He joined the percussion section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1946, becoming Principal timpani in 1971. He was Principal timpani for 30 seasons, 1971-2002. Richard Horowitz died on Nov. 2, 2015 at age 91.
Richard Horowitz in 2008
Parker Lee is a native of Reston, Virginia. He gained his BMus degree for the Bachelor of Music from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He pursued his graduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He also studied at the Lynn University Conservatory (Florida) and at Cleveland State University.
William Reitz circa 1911
William Reitz also played in the Philadelphia City Band and recorded a number of xylophone recordings for Victor Talking Machine Company 1911-1927.
Herbert Baker born in 1939, grew up in the Boston area where as a student, he played in Jazz Clubs in and around Boston. At age 17 he entered the New England Conservatory studying with BSO Principal percussion Vic Firth. He was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Festival 1958-1960. He was Tympanist with The Fine Arts Symphony in Boston directed by Harold Farberman. He also played Jazz in the Hamptons and two Summers with The Ice Capades in Atlantic City. Prior to the MET Orchestra, Herbert Baker played percussion and timpani with the Boston Pops Orchestra 1958-1963. He was Principal timpani of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (Massachusetts) 1957-1969. Herbert Baker was also timpani for the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. In January 1994, Baker was compelled to leave the MET Orchestra due to failing eyesight (which he later recovered in retirement.)
Gregory Zuber was born in Boston and grew up in Chicago. As a student, he was a member of the Chicago Civic Symphony (student training orchestra). Zuber studied during two summers at The National Music Camp at Interlochen (Michigan) and attended the Interlochen Arts Academy. He then attended the University of Illinois BMus, followed by and Temple University MMus. As a studentm, he was a Fellow at the Tanglewood Center for the Arts Before joining the MET, Gregory Zuber was Principal percussionist with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra 1985-1986. He has been on the facult of the Juilliar School since 1993.
Richard Horowitz in 2008
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