Ab Koster

KosterAb2The Dutch hornist Ab Koster was professor of horn at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg for 39 years, retiring in 2019; 94% of his former students hold positions as professional performers. Ab is also known as an outstanding orchestral player and as soloist on both natural and modern horn. He has been active in the IHS as a featured artist at IHS symposiums and serving on the Advisory Council for two terms (1998-2001 and 2014-2016).

Ab was born in The Hague, Holland, the son of a Dutch hornist. He completed his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in his hometown with a Prix d’Exellence, then continued at the Folkwang University in Essen, Germany with Hermann Baumann, who called him one of the “leading hornist of his generation.”

Ab held the position of principal horn in the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, Germany from 1977 until 1990, when he left in order to accept many invitations as soloist and chamber musician. He has  collaborated with Jean-Pierre Rampal, Gustav Leonhardt, and Frans Brüggen (Orchestra of the 18th Century) and earned an international reputation with solo performances, records, radio, and television recordings in various countries. Concert tours have led him to almost all countries in Europe as well as in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, China, and Taiwan.

For years, Ab has belonged to the small circle of soloists who are sought after world-wide, on the natural horn as well as on the valve horn. His interpretation of the concertos by Mozart and Strauss are particularly celebrated all over the world.

William C. Robinson (1919-2019)

robinson2.jpgWilliam (Bill) Robinson is responsible, more than anyone else, for starting the International Horn Workshops and the International Horn Society. His mission in life has been as a music educator.

Bill was born in Oklahoma in 1919. He earned his degree in Instrumental Music Education at the University of Oklahoma in 1942 and became band director at Norman High School before going into the Army that same year. He played baritone and trombone in the army band in El Paso and started horn instruction with Leonard Hale, who was also a member of the band. He played in the El Paso Symphony until the band was sent to the Pacific in 1945.

After being discharged from the Army in 1946, he returned to Norman, earned a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma, and resumed his position as band director at Norman High School. He studied horn with George Yeager and played in the Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra for seven years.

In 1958, after hearing the Chicago Symphony Woodwind Quintet and becoming acquainted with Philip Farkas, he went to Chicago during the summer to study with Phil. They became good friends - a friendship that lasted for the rest of Phil's life.

In 1959, the Robinsons moved to El Paso TX, where Bill taught in the public schools and played first horn in the El Paso Symphony for seven years.

During his years in secondary band programs, Bill developed what was called the "Breath Impulse System," which promoted breath support, tone production, and good rhythmic body feeling. With his colleague in Norman, James Middleton, and his colleagues at Baylor University, Richard Shanley, Larry Vanlandingham, and Gene Smith, he wrote a book, the Complete School Band Program for the benefit of school band directors. He later published two horn method books that were edited by Phil Farkas.

robinson3Bill was the horn professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee FL from 1966-71. He was a member of the Faculty Chamber Orchestra, Faculty Woodwind Quintet, and Brass Trio. While there, he hosted the first three International Horn Workshops (1969, 1970, 1971) and was instrumental in forming the International Horn Society in 1970. He served as vice president of the IHS for five years (1971-76).

In 1971, he moved to Baylor University in Waco TX, where he taught horn and later became Chairman of the Instrumental Music Division, which grew from 19 to over 125 instrumental music education students during the years from 1971 to 1986, when he retired. While at Baylor, he also played in the faculty woodwind quintet and brass quintet, the Waco Symphony, and the San Angelo Symphony.

Bill was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 1978, elected to the Oklahoma Band Director's Hall of Fame in 1988, and received the Edwin Franko Goldman Award from the American School Band Directors Association in 1995. He was a charter member of the last organization in 1953. In 1999, he was honored at Baylor University as the founder of the Chamber Music Society in Waco.

Bill studied horn with George Yaeger, Philip Farkas, Dale Clevenger, and Arnold Jacobs and also had help on the horn from Frøydis Ree Wekre and Hermann Baumann. He taught horn students of all ages from schools in Orlando FL and surrounding areas in his retirement until shortly before his death.

Lucien Thévet (1914-2007)

thevet.jpgLucien Thévet was the last of the horn players of the traditional French school and was called by one critic "Prince of the Horn." In addition to his orchestral playing, he performed all the major solo repertoire, premiered pieces composed and dedicated to him by Le Flem, Françaix, Passani, Landowski, and the Poulenc Elegie (accompanied by the composer), and gave the French premieres of the Britten Serenade (1945 with Peter Pears) and Strauss Concerto No. 2. (1950). He recorded the Ravel Pavane eight times and performed it in concert many more times. His style included vibrato, as was typical of the French school.

Thévet was born in 1914 in Beauvais, France. He studied with his father, an amateur musician, from the age of six, and by age 13 was a soloist with the local band. He studied with Raymond Carlier (not a horn player, but well-rounded musician who played several other instruments) and later with Fernand Reine and Edouard Vuillermoz at the Paris Conservatory, receiving a first prize in 1937, and was appointed principal horn of the Paris Radio Orchestra.

Thévet was also principal horn of the Paris Conservatory Orchestra (1938-1967) and the Paris Opera Orchestra (1941-1974). Charles Munch offered him the principal horn position with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but Thévet declined.

thevet_hand_positionIn a famous incident at the Paris Opera, Thévet was called to the stage for numerous curtain calls after playing the off-stage solo in Wagner's Siegfried, an event that was reported in the press. The press also praised his solo playing: "Mr. Thévet gives the impression of perfection with his confidence, incredible flexible phrasing, and beautiful sound." Thévet made many solo recordings in addition to recordings with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra and Paris Opera Orchestra.

Thévet taught at the Paris Ecole Normale de Musique, the Nineteenth Arrondissement Conservatory, and for 34 years at the Versailles Conservatory. Students came from all over the world to study with him. Thévet would take students at any level. He taught beginning students in concert pitch, and he taught transposition by clefs rather than intervals.

Thévet played a Selmer horn with piston valves and an ascending third valve (described in the Autumn 1973 issue of The Horn Call). In 1950, he became technical advisor for the Selmer company, and in 1964 he designed a new model of horn for them.

Alphonse Leduc published Thévet's Méthode Complète de Cor (1949). Other publications include Sixty Studies for Horn, Fifty Transposition Exercises for Horn, Sixty-five Sight-reading Studies for Horn, One Hundred Rhythmic Exercises in Two and Three Parts for Instruments in the Treble Clef, and Transposition: A Method for Conductors, Players, and Arrangers.

Thévet was made a Knight of Arts and Letters, was Honorary President of the French National Association of Horn Players, and was elected an IHS Honorary Member (1978). The November 1995 issue of The Horn Call contains an homage to him on his 80th birthday as well as an article by him. Two tributes appear in the October 2007 issue.

Hand position picture courtesy of Pete Exline.

Randall Faust

Randall FaustHornist, composer, author, and professor, Randall Faust has contributed to the horn community both regionally, in Western Illinois, and internationally, through the IHS and other organizations. Randy has participated in many IHS symposiums and was host of the 2009 International Horn Symposium in Macomb IL.

Randy has been the horn professor at Western Illinois University since 1997, hornist of the Camerata Woodwind Quintet and LaMoine Brass Quintet, and host of the annual Western Illinois Horn Festival and annual BrassFest. He has participated in regional and international symposiums. His compositions, including Quartet for Four Horns in memory of Philip Farkas, are often heard on concerts and in recordings. He has produced an instructional DVD, How to Stop a Horn. He performs and records, including works of contemporary composers. Performance credits include broadcasts over Peach State Public Radio during 12 years as principal horn of the Columbus (Georgia) Symphony Orchestra and recording as a member of the Clarion Wind Symphony.

Randy was born in 1947 in Vermillion, South Dakota, into a musical family. He studied at Interlochen, Eastern Michigan University (BS 1972), Minnesota State University Mankato (MM 1973), and the University of Iowa (DMA 1980). His horn teachers have included Marvin Howe, John Berg, Marvin McCoy, Don Haddad, Eugene Wade, Orrin Olson, Paul Anderson, Michael Hatfield, Arnold Jacobs, and Helen Kotas Hirsch; his composition teachers were Rolf Scheurer, Warren Benson, Anthony Iannaccone, Peter Tod Lewis, and Donald Martin Jenni. He has taught at Shenandoah University (1973-1982) and Auburn University (1982-1997), and has been on the faculty of the Interlochen Center for the Arts for over two decades. In 2006 he recorded Fantasies on American Themes, a CD of compositions by William Presser.

Randy’s articles and reviews have appeared in The Horn Call since 1980. He chronicled the work of his teacher, IHS Honorary Member Marvin Howe, in a 1996 Horn Call article “Marvin Howe, Singer of Smooth Melodies,” in his edition of Marvin Howe's The Singing Hornist (2001), an ongoing series of instructional videos, and in a lecture/performance involving many former Howe students at the 2016 International Horn Symposium.

Randy’s compositions have been performed at the International Trumpet Guild, the International Trombone Association, the National Gallery of Art, and the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall and have been the subject of several doctoral dissertations. His music has been recorded on Albany Records, MSR Classics, Crystal Records, Summit Records, and ACA Digital Recordings by artists such as The Palisades Virtuosi, Andrew Pelletier, David Griffin, Ralph Lockwood, Steven Gross, Michael Hatfield, Randy Gardner, David Krehbiel, and Douglas Hill. He and his wife, Sharon, have been publishing his compositions through Faust Music since 1974.

In addition to his activities with the IHS, Randy has been president of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (1992-1994) and has served as Interim Chair of the Western Illinois Department of Music. He has been honored by the Western Illinois University Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi as its Outstanding Artist for 2004 and in 2006 and 2010 by the College of Fine Arts and Communication with its Creative Activity Award. He has received the ASCAP Award in annually since 1990 and the Orpheus Award from The Auburn University Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity in 1987.

Randy has served on the IHS Advisory Council (1984-1990), as Secretary-Treasurer (1986-1987), President (1987–1990), Music Review Editor for The Horn Call (1981-1990), and Composition Contest Coordinator since 2013. He received the Punto Award in 2009 and was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 2016.

Norman Schweikert (1937-2018)

schweikert2.jpgNorman Schweikert was one of the founding members of the IHS and its first Secretary-Treasurer. “Without Norman Schweikert,” stated first IHS President Barry Tuckwell, “there would be no International Horn Society.” Norm was a member of the Chicago Symphony for 26 years and on the faculty of Northwestern University for 25 years.

Norm was born in 1937 in Los Angeles. His parents were both amateur musicians (mother a pianist and father a violinist). He started on piano at age 6, then gravitated to the violin in order to play in orchestras. He studied first with his father, then with Joseph Kessler, whom he credits with giving him a good musical foundation.

Norm played violin in the Pioneer Orchestra under Joseph Oroop (working his way up to concertmaster) and the California Junior Symphony under Peter Meremblum. He switched to horn and played with the California Junior Symphony until he got his first job at age 18. He credits his experience playing the standard symphonic literature in the youth orchestra with preparing him for his first audition. He studied with Odolindo Perissi (father of Richard) and Sinclair Lott in Los Angeles and with Joseph Eger on scholarship at Aspen. While studying with Lott and still in high school, he played eighth horn in Rite of Spring and Wagner tuba in Bruckner 7th with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He was also a member of the Horn Club of Los Angeles in its first years.

In 1955 Norm auditioned for the Rochester Philharmonic at Music Director Erich Leinsdorf's hotel room in Los Angeles and won the fourth horn position. He remained with the orchestra until 1966, playing fourth horn (1955-59), second horn (1959-61 and December 1964-65), and third horn (1961-January 1962 and 1965-66), with three years out for military service with the US Military Academy Band at West Point (1962-64). He earned a bachelor's degree and Performer's Certificate in 1961 at the Eastman School of Music while playing in the Philharmonic, studying with Morris Secon and Verne Reynolds. Reynolds wrote his Partita for Norm's senior recital, and the two had been close friends until Reynolds’s death in 2011. Norm played second horn to Reynolds for two years. Norm also enjoyed playing in the Eastman Wind Ensemble with Frederick Fennell (1957-61), including taking part in more than a dozen recordings.

Norm then spent five years as Instructor of Horn at the Interlochen Arts Academy and a member of the Interlochen Arts Quintet (woodwind). During that time, he also played in the Moravian Music Festival (1966), the Chicago Little Symphony (tours of 1967 and 1968), and the Peninsula Music Festival (1968-70),l and was soloist with the last two. He has been curator of the Leland B. Greenleaf Collection of Musical Instruments housed at Interlochen (1970-71).

In June 1971 he joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal horn, taking part in the orchestra's first European tour at the end of the summer. He moved to second horn in 1975, where he remained until retiring in 1997. He continued to play as a substitute or extra until June of 2006. In 1977 he and Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, and Tom Howell performed and recorded the Schumann Konzertstück in Chicago, then, while on an orchestra tour in June, played the first professional performance of it in Japan with Seiji Ozawa and the New Japan Philharmonic. He taught horn at Northwestern University from 1973 to 1998.

In his retirement, Norm continued research into the lives of US orchestra musicians, a project which he started when he was studying at Eastman. His collection of material on this subject was probably the largest private collection anywhere. He answered letters and emails from all over the world.

Norm’s contributions to the IHS were considerable. He chaired the IHS organizing committee in 1970 and was the first Secretary-Treasurer, handling most of the organizing work. He wrote the first several newsletters on a typewriter, folding, stuffing, and stamping them. He continued on the Advisory Council for six years (1970-76), and contributed many articles to The Horn Call, notably ten articles in the first two years of publication. He was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 1996.

John Clark

clarkJohn Clark has advanced horn playing in both classical and jazz improvisation, playing and teaching, recording, composing, and publishing. He is one of the first and one of the few full-time jazz horn artists in the US. He has been a leader and teacher in modern and free jazz and free improvisation. He received a patent for the “hornette,” an instrument with the same range as the horn but with a forward-facing bell. His book, Exercises for Jazz French Horn, has been a standard for both jazz and classical students since its publication in 1993.

John was born in Brooklyn in 1944 and grew up in Rochester, New York. He earned a BA at the Eastman School of Music, played in the US Coast Guard Band, and then earned an MM degree from the New England Conservatory in Boston. John’s teachers included Verne Reynolds, James Stagliano, Thomas Newell, and Paul Ingraham on horn and Jaki Byard, Ran Blake, and George Russell for composition and improvisation. He taught at SUNY Purchase (2001-1008), then at the Manhattan School of Music.

John hosted the Northeast Horn Workshop at SUNY Purchase in 2005, featuring three IHS Honorary Members: Gunther Schuller (discussing the horn solo in Till Eulenspiegel), Willie Ruff (in performance with his duo partner, pianist Dwike Mitchell), and Verne Reynolds; although Reynolds was unable to attend, his 48 Etudes were performed and recorded by a series of artists.

John has freelanced in the New York City area and performed and recorded with many jazz and popular artists and ensembles, classical ensembles, and on films. His recording and publishing label is Hidden Meaning Music. His awards include the Down Beat Critics’ Poll (1979-1982), a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Award (1986), and IHS Honorary Member (2018).

Hector McDonald

mcdonaldHector McDonald has been principal horn with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Concentus Musicus Wien, performing on the Vienna, Baroque, Classical, natural, and modern double horn. Over his 45-years playing brass instruments, he has also played tenor horn (alto horn in the US), euphonium, and trombone. He recently retired from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (1989-2018) and as Professor of Horn at University for Music and the Performing Arts in Graz, Austria (1997-2018).

The Vienna Symphony stated, “A true legend bids farewell. Having shaped the sound and life of the orchestra for close to three decades, our Principal Horn retires. We will miss him deeply.” Peter Luff, Griffith Conservatory in Brisbane, says, “Next to Barry Tuckwell, Hector is the most influential living Australian horn player/pedagogue, and along with Barry was a major inspiration to me as a student and still is!”

Hector was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia in 1953. He studied with Alan Mann and later with Campbell Barnes and Hermann Baumann. He played in the RAAF Band and the ABC Training Orchestra before becoming a member of the Berlin Philharmonic 1976. He returned to Australia in 1980 to teach at the Canberra School of Music. His playing and teaching have influenced horn playing in Australia and around the world. He appears regularly at International workshops and seminars.

Hector has performed as soloist with leading orchestras in Europe, the US, South-East Asia, and Australia. He is professor of horn at the University for Music and the Performing Arts in Graz, Austria (kug.ac.at) and appears regularly at workshops and seminars around the world. He has recorded solos and chamber music, including Weber's Concertino and Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante K.297b on natural horn as well as concertos by Haydn, Telemann, Förster, and Teyber. More recently, he has performed as Principal Horn with the Australian World Orchestra with Zubin Mehta, Sir Simon Rattle, and Simone Young.

Hector received the Punto Award at the IHS symposium in Brisbane, Australia in 2010 and was elected an Honorary Member at the IHS symposium in Muncie, Indiana in 2018.

Hans Pizka

pizka.jpgHans Pizka, because of his lifelong devotion to his art and his activities as ambassador through music, has been honored by the President of the Federal Republic of Austria with the honorary title of Professor. Hans is also associated with many performances of the Siegfried Long Call, and the photo was taken after one of his Long Call performances.

Hans was born in 1942 in Metz, Lorraine, France, the eldest son of horn professor Erich Pizka. His family roots go deep into Bavaria's Suebia province near Fuessen and Memmingen which was part of Austria then, and his mother's side goes back to the early 12th century in St. Hubert near Kempen, not far from Cologne and Duesseldorf, next to Cleve and Xanten. It is interesting to note that Xanten is the site of Wagner's Siegfried, and also there is a Maria Stich on his father's side of the family in Upper Austria, from central Bohemia in the early 18th century, the same century in which Johann Wenzel Stich (Giovanni Punto) was born.

Hans was educated at the Academic Gymnasium in Linz, Upper Austria, (a 450-year-old school) mainly by professors of the Jesuit tradition. A citizen of Austria, he speaks German, English, and Italian, understands and speaks other languages well enough to communicate (Spanish, some Japanese), and can read Greek and Thai (slowly). A scholar of history, he also can read the old-style Suetterlin German writings and the ancient French court writings of the 16th and 17th century. He began his musical education at age four on violin, and continued with viola and horn at age 9. His first horn teacher was his father, and later he continued his horn studies with Gottfried von Freiberg and Josef Veleba of the Vienna Philharmonic. His first public performance was at age 11, and he played his first horn concerto in front of a professional orchestra at 15.

His orchestral career led him from Linz (Bruckner Orchestra), to Duesseldorf as successor to Gerd Seifert, and to Munich as successor to Norbert Hauptmann. He held the "Franz Strauss Chair" as the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra's principal horn in Munich from 1967 to 2007, and is called as an extra player or to fill in as first horn with the Vienna Philharmonic. He has played under conductors Karajan, Boehm, Kleiber, Sawallisch, Mehta, Ozawa, Muti, Abbado, Kubelik, Bernstein, and many others, and he has been a frequent soloist in countries all over the world. Hans has been a concert soloist, author of several important horn-related books (Mozart and the Horn, Hornist Dictionary 1986, and Wagner and the Horn), lecturer, horn designer, horn collector, publisher of horn-related music, producer of compact discs, and an expert regarding nearly everything connected with the horn. He has published about 500 titles of music, most for or with horns. He has started a horn-making business under his own brand name, producing double horns and Viennese Pumpenhorns.

In 2002, Hans finished his sixth term on the Advisory Council (1982-95 and 1997-2002), having served the society in many capacities, including Vice President. He translated and published The Horn Call in German (Hornruf) from 1983-1994. Also in 2002, the IHS elected Hans an Honorary Member.

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