Hermann Baumann

baumann2.jpg"Baumann is an excellent musician, both as a soloist and as a collaborator in chamber works. The hallmarks of his playing are singing tone – he can sound operatic! – and the smoothness and evenness of his tone production, even on 'authentic' instruments." He pioneered the playing of early baroque and classical hand horns in performance, and his recovery from a serious stroke has been astonishing and inspiring.

Hermann Rudolph Konrad Baumann was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1934. Perhaps it is not surprising that his horn playing is compared to singing since he started his musical career as a singer and jazz drummer, switching to horn at age 17. He studied horn with the eminent teacher and soloist Fritz Huth, then played with various orchestras for 12 years, including first horn with the Dortmund Orchestra and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.

After winning the ARD International Music Competition in Munich in 1964, Baumann accepted a professorship at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen and pursued a career as a horn soloist. Solo engagements, recitals, world touring, and recordings all followed, and he became known and admired throughout the world. Baumann's recordings on both modern and natural horn (including the corno da caccia) have received rave reviews.

Baumann's fascination with the natural horn began at the Munich competition, when an audience member, Willi Aebi, a farm-machinery manufacturer from Switzerland, complained after his performance that Baumann didn't know the natural horn, but Aebi then invited Baumann to play his collection of natural horns and also presented him with an alphorn.

Baumann taught many successful students at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen during his 30-year tenure. One of his strong point in teaching, according to a student, was not to have his students copy him, but to respect each individual. He encouraged his students to practice together and attend concerts with him. Throughout the decades, he has lectured and given master classes around the world, continuing to participate in symposiums and other venues even in retirement. His wife of 40 years, Hella, a support for both Baumann and his students, died in 1997.

Baumann commissioned works from such composers as Jean-Luc Darbellay, Bernhard Krol, and Hans-Georg Pflüger. He played the first performance of Ligeti's Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano in 1982 to great acclaim from the composer. And he has composed his own works, notably the Elegia for hand horn.

In 1999, the Historic Brass Society honored Baumann in Paris with the Christopher Monk Award for his outstanding lifelong contribution to music on period instruments. He has been known to play other natural horns – some not often found on the concert stage - such as the South African Kelphorn, the posthorn, and the Danish Lure.

Baumann became an IHS Honorary Member in 1992, and the August 1998 issue of The Horn Call was devoted to him. In this issue, Baumann recounts his experience with the stroke that paralyzed his right side, and his difficult but successful recovery. Baumann had performed the Strauss Concerto No. 2 with the Buffalo Philharmonic and was discovered in his hotel room the next morning, hours after the stroke. After two weeks in a Buffalo clinic, he was transported to a rehabilitation clinic in Essen. He had to learn to walk, speak, write, hear, and eventually play horn again. He started teaching just five months after the stroke, and in two years was soloist and conductor at a gala concert.

Bernhard Brüchle (1942-2011)

bruechle2Bernard Brüchle is best known for his books documenting the history of the horn and publications for the horn.

Brüchle was born in Munich in 1942, where he studied both the horn and psychology.

He is the author of the first two volumes of a three-volume set called Horn Bibliographie (published by Heinrichshofen Wilhelmshaven), a reference that lists virtually everything published for the horn before 1983. (The third volume was written by Daniel Lienhard.)

Brüchle has also co-authored with Kurt Janetzky illustrated books on the horn, available in both German and English.

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Brüchle (R) with fellow hornist and
musicologist Kurt Janetzky
  • (The Horn) Das Horn: Eine kleine Chronik seines Werdens und Wirkens, translated by James Cater, ©1977
  • (A Pictorial History of the Horn) Kulturgeschichte des Horns - Ein Bildsachbuch, translated by Cecilia Baumann, ©1976

Brüchle was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 1980.

Kaoru Chiba (1928-2008)

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photo courtesy of the Kumamoto Horn Ensemble, Takeshi Takahashi, Director

Kaoru Chiba was a leader of horn players and other musicians in Japan, a teacher to a generation of horn players, and revered for his beautiful singing style on the horn. He was affectionately known as "Bachi" by everyone and was famous for his warmth and humor, as a chef, and for his hospitality, inviting touring horn sections to parties at his home.

Bachi was born in 1928 in Beppu, Ohita Prefecture and grew up in Tokyo. Both his parents were graduates of Ueno Conservatory of Music. Bachi started on violin at age seven, but he didn't like its high sound. Entering junior high school in 1940, he encountered an alto horn.

Bachi failed his first entrance exam at the Tokyo Conservatory of Music – he told the story of being unable to write about a famous dramatic writer, Chikamatsu – but he passed the same exam a year later, in April 1945. Life changed in Japan after the end of World War II (August 1945), and Bachi took up guitar and jazz, earning money at the US Officer's Club in Tokyo.

Dr. Daigoro Arima, Secretary-General of the Nippon Symphony Orchestra (now the NHK Symphony Orchestra) invited Bachi to become an apprentice of the orchestra while studying at the Tokyo Conservatory with Professor Nagata. Bachi became a regular member of the orchestra when he graduated from the conservatory.

In the autumn of 1956, Bachi traveled to England and Germany to study. The first time he met Dennis Brain, at a recording session, Brain was very surprised to see him talking amiably with Karajan, who had been a guest conductor of the NHK orchestra two years before. Brain agreed to give Bachi lessons, but when Bachi returned from Germany, where he had studied with G. Neudecker and M. Strupp, he discovered in the newspaper that Brain had died in an automobile accident the night before. In 1966 von Karajan invited Bachi to the Berlin Philharmonic, but Bachi famously turned him down because, "In Berlin I can not find any fresh and delicious sushi."

His colleague Chiyo Matsubara recalls that Bachi started playing on a single F horn with the bell on his leg. But after he returned from England and Germany, he played an Alexander single B-flat horn with the bell off the leg. Many conductors praised his playing.

Bachi was principal horn of the NHK Symphony Orchestra for 36 years, until mandatory retirement age in 1983. In 1982, he received the first Arima Prize, given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the orchestra. After retiring, Bachi played in the New Japan Philharmonic (1983-1997).

Bachi taught at the Kunitachi Academy of Music, the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (formerly the Tokyo Conservatory of Music), Toho School of Music, Yamagata University, Japan University, and Nagoya Music University. He was also President of the Tokyo Horn Club and a member of the board of directors for both the Japan Federation of Musicians and Affinis Arts Foundation. In 1993 he received a Special Prize in Music given by the Nippon Steel Company. He also served as artistic advisor to Yamaha.

Bachi was a member of the IHS Advisory Council from 1986-89 and elected an Honorary Member in 1989. He was one of the hosts for the 1995 IHS Symposium in Yamagata.

Peter Damm

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photo courtesy of Jan van den Eijnden

Peter Damm has been described as "legendary" - he is known for both his exceptional abilities as a player, and for his editions of many of the standard works in the horn repertoire. In particular, among his performances, his recordings of Strauss with the Staatskapelle Dresden are held in high regard.

Damm was born in 1937 in Meiningen, Thüringen, Germany, which was in the GDR (East Germany) from the end of World War II until reunification in 1990. He began his musical education at age 11 with violin lessons, moving to horn at age 14, studying with Franz Nauber in Meiningen. After a short period as a forestry apprentice, he studied horn with Karl Biehlig at the Hochschule für Musik in Weimar (1951-1957).

Damm began his orchestral career in 1957 as solo hornist with the orchestra of Gera, Thuringia (Orchester der Bühnen der Stadt Gera). He became principal horn in the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig in 1959 and principal horn with the Dresden State Orchestra (Staatskapelle) in 1969. On his retiring from Dresden in 2002, the orchestra made him an honorary member. He balanced a solo career with the orchestral job, which he enjoyed because, "I'm the type of person who feels his best when he is under pressure. … I never wanted to leave the orchestra. For me, the orchestra is a very good critic; when we rehearse, we make comments to each other, and it is only in this manner that an orchestra or a group can maintain a high standard of quality. … The experience between both disciplines brings something extra to each one. I know when I have to play as a soloist and when I have to move back and blend in with the orchestra."

Competitions include the International Competition Moscow 1957 (Silver Medal), International Music Competition of the ARD München 1960 (Second Prize), and the International Competition Prague Spring 1962 (First Prize).

Other honors include the titles Kammermusiker (1969) and Kammervirtuose (1971), Art Award of the GDR (1972), National Award of the GDR (1979), Fritz-Busch-Award (1995), and Art Award of the City of Dresden (1998).

Damm has appeared in solo performances in Europe, Japan, South America, and the United States. He has played the Strauss Concerto op. 11 in over 150 performances. His editions of the standard literature are published by Breitkopf and Härtel, and he has recorded some thirty solo works on the Eterna label. His recordings of the Mozart concertos with Neville Marriner are the result of decades of research. His extensive repertoire of solo works, chamber music, and concertos ranges from 18th century works to contemporary music.

In an interview in the November 1994 issue of The Horn Call, Damm describes the difficulties of traveling from the GDR (East Germany). "If you played in one of the big orchestras, then you had a bit more freedom. All the concerts that I did in the West were through the initiative of outside invitations, and I wasn't always allowed to leave the country! I discovered much later that there were two years where the agency simply told everyone that I wasn't available. However, after I came to Dresden, as long as I could arrange with the other horn players to have the time off, then I could accept most offers, and was allowed to travel."

"Another problem was that we had to give up part of what we had earned – a so-called 'mandatory transfer' into East German currency – and there wasn't much money left over. Sometimes I would rather eat in supermarkets than in restaurants, and buy music instead. Finally I went to the Ministry of Culture in Berlin to explain that it was necessary to buy music to get new repertoire, and they agreed to reduce by ten percent the amount that I had to transfer. … Now if I decide I want to do something, I can simply get in my car and go; I don't have to ask permission, and apply for permits and so on."

Until 2007, Damm was honorary horn professor at the Carl Maria von Weber Conservatory in Dresden and is a frequent guest professor all over the world. "I enjoy working with young people, especially when they are interested in learning. … It is important not just to practice, but to practice intelligently. … I worked for many years at the International Music Seminar in Weimar where my goal was to bring the East and the West together. After the German reunification, I stopped working there because I felt I had achieved my goal." He has been president of the International Competition for Wind Instruments in Markneukirchen since 1986. He was elected an Honorary Member of the International Horn Society in 1992.

After 56 years, Damm played his last solo performance at the 2007 International Horn Symposium in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. His motto: "Finish your career as long as people still regret it..."

Vincent DeRosa (1920-2022)

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photo courtesy of Walter Hecht

"It's true that I played in thousands of movies, but that was what we did in those days. It would be impossible today, with the current traffic situation, to play as many sessions in a day - often three and sometimes four - as we did then, when we could get anywhere is Los Angeles in half an hour. One day I got a call. I said I could come by on my lunch hour. The studio was near where I played a morning session, so I walked over at noon. On a stand was music with just two notes. They wanted me to play them strongly, so I did, then asked what else they wanted. That was it! And the recording with those two notes became a great hit!"

"I learned the Mozart and Strauss, but the studio business required something different. The music was always new, never seen before; you played it and they recorded it. You never knew what you were going to get. Fortunately, I didn't have problems with that, so I became a well-known player in commercial work. Alfred Brain said, never practice on the stage, and that's what the business was like."

Vince DeRosa was born in 1920 into a musical family in Kansas City. His father played clarinet and his mother was a singer. The family moved to Chicago, where Vince started horn with P. Delecce, and then later the family moved to Los Angeles. Vince studied briefly with his uncle Vincent DeRubertis (who was on staff as a horn player at Paramount Studios), and the legendary Alfred Brain (uncle of Dennis Brain, and Principal Horn at 20th Century Fox Studios), and started his professional career at the age of seventeen in the horn section at 20th Century Fox. During World War II, he played in an Army recording orchestra based in Santa Ana. After obtaining his release from the Army, Vince decided to try freelance recording in Los Angeles. His first jobs were playing live radio broadcasts, and he was successful at this type of work.

As a young horn player, Vince gained playing experience through numerous freelance opportunities while most of the studio players were restricted by contract to playing in only one studio. Before long, Vince successfully established himself as the "first-call" horn player in the recording industry. Many film composers were attracted to Vince's warm and beautiful tone color and began to write prominent horn solos in their scores. Vince's impact on the business brought along with it a new standard for studio horn parts.

Over six decades, Vince played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in the LA Horn Club, and for Henry Mancini, Alfred Newman, Lalo Schifrin, and John Williams, among many others. He can be heard in motion pictures (such as ET, Days of Wine and Roses, Cowboys, Rocky, Robin Hood), television, and records for hundreds of artists (including Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra).

In the late 1950s, Vince started playing a Conn 8D. Composers all loved the sound, and more and more horn players switched to the 8D, creating a more unified sound that was recognized and respected as the LA horn sound. Over his career, Vince has worked on horn designs with various craftsmen and horn makers, including the Paxman model 40L with Merewether and the Heritage horn with Hoyer.

As an educator, Vince was a faculty member at the University of Southern California for 30 years (1974-2005), and his students can be heard professionally around the world in every facet of horn playing from jazz to symphonic to chamber music to recording solo and studio playing. Among his students were his cousin Henry Sigismonti (Principal Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta), George Price (long time third Horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic), and his nephew Jeffrey DeRosa (a busy studio horn player).

A Vince DeRosa Scholarship Fund was established in 2003 (currently supporting the IHS Solo Contest), and Vince was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 2004.

Michael Hatfield (1936-2020)

mhpic.jpgMichael Hatfield was an extraordinary musician and horn player, a dedicated and inspiring teacher, an admired and valued colleague, and an active member of the IHS.

Mike was a native of Indiana, born in 1936. He studied both trumpet and horn in his youth but also had early ambitions towards a career in the television industry as a producer or director. At Indiana University, he earned both the Bachelor of Science degree and the first Performer's Certificate in Horn granted by that institution under the tutelage of Verne Reynolds. He also studied with Christopher Leuba and Philip Farkas.

Upon graduation in 1958, Mike joined the Indianapolis Symphony as assistant principal horn, moving to third horn the next season. In 1961, he was appointed principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for the next 23 years. While in Cincinnati, Hatfield also served as Adjunct Professor and Chair of the Brass, Woodwind, and Percussion Division at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, and was a member of the Cincinnati Woodwind Quintet with his principal colleagues from the Symphony. Summers he returned to Aspen where he played second horn to Philip Farkas in the Aspen Festival Orchestra from 1960-68. In 1972 he became co-principal of the orchestra and joined the faculty of the Festival, positions he would hold until 1989.

In 1984, Mike joined the faculty at Indiana University, replacing his former teacher, Philip Farkas, upon Farkas's retirement, and served as Chair of the Brass Department. In the summers he was also principal horn of the Santa Fe Opera and a member of the Grand Teton Festival Institute faculty and its Orchestra. He retired from IU with the title Professor Emeritus. In 2000, he was elected to the Board of Directors of Cormont Music where he offered input into the planning and execution of the Kendall Betts Horn Camp and its scholarship program.

Mike was a featured artist at the 1983 and 1985 IHS International Workshops, co-host of the 2003 symposium at Indiana University, served two terms on the Advisory Council (1999-2005), and was chair of the scholarship program. He was presented with the Punto Award in 2003 and elected an Honorary Member in 2006.

James Decker (1921-2013)

decker2.jpgJames Decker has been involved in many diverse aspects of the horn. His career has spanned symphony orchestras from Washington DC to Los Angeles, conductors from classical icons to popular figures, studio work from contracts through a strike to free-lancing, and teaching at universities to creating the IVASI video system.

Jim was born in 1921 in Venice CA. His mother was a singer who performed on radio broadcasts. When Jim was nine years old, an infection in his right ear led to a mastoid operation that resulted in deafness in that ear. Another operation in the 1950s partially restored that hearing.

Jim started playing the cornet in school, switching to horn at age 16 at the request of the school orchestra director. Soon he was playing in Leopold Stokowski's National Youth Administration Orchestra, the Long Beach Community Orchestra, and Peter Meremblum's Youth Orchestra and taking lessons from James Stagliano.

His first truly professional positions – at the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC (1942-43), the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1943-44), Fox Studios, and Kansas City (1946-47) – were offered without audition. Returning to Los Angeles after Kansas City, he "auditioned" for principal horn at Columbia Studios by recording a sound track. His former teacher, Stagliano, didn't want to play a concert and asked Jim to play principal horn; this was his introduction to Otto Klemperer and Igor Stravinsky, conducting Tchaikovsky's Fifth and Firebird Suite, respectively.

As a contracted studio player (in the Hollywood studios at Columbia, Fox, Paramount, and CBS television), Jim had days (and sometimes weeks) without work, so he and friends started a rehearsal  orchestra that used the many musicians under contract in the studios as well as free-lance musicians hoping to play in the studios. He asked Hollywood composers/conductors – Frantz Waxman, Lalo Schifrin, Miklos Rosza, Johnny Green, Bernard Hermann, Carman Dragon, Nelson Riddle – to conduct. When the manager of the faltering Glendale Symphony, a local community orchestra, proposed that they would sponsor a series of concerts if we could do our rehearsals there. It was agreed. He held new auditions and began an all union orchestra that became the new Glendale Symphony.

Jim was the vice president of the newly formed LA Horn Club; Alfred Brain (uncle of Denis Brain) was President; Wendell Hoss, Secretary; and Arthur Frantz, Treasurer. Jim was co-host of the IHS workshop held at the University of Southern California in 1979 and a clinician at the IHS workshop in Claremont CA in 1983, He was elected an Honorary Member in 2003 and has attended most of the workshops in the United States and the international workshops in Munich, Germany and in Banff, Canada.

Because of the actions of the AFM president, many of the prominent studio players, including Jim, went on strike against the studios. This led to studio work going overseas Many of the most successful musicians, including Jim, formed a musicians Guild. After the strike was over, the Guild won all the contracts with the studios. Jim had steady work at Paramount, but then was hired (with Vince DeRosa, Jack Cave, Sinclair Lott, and Rich Perissi) to make recordings of Wagner, Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart, and others with Erich Leinsdorf and Bruno Walter – "the highlight of my career," according to Jim, was playing principal under Stravinsky in many of the composer's most famous works. According to Robert Craft, Stravinsky’s assistant, Jim was one of three orchestra musicians most favored and requested by Stravinsky.

Commercial work with Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nelson Riddle, Henry Mancini, David Rose, Percy Faith and many others led to a very busy schedule. Jim also was principal horn of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Sir Neville Marriner, played chamber music with Jascha Heifetz and Gregor Piatigorsky, and recorded countless movie and television soundtracks. In those days, studio players could play three sessions in a day; "Now you can hardly do two dates with all the traffic."

Jim was Professor of Horn at the University of Southern California (USC) for 40 years. He also taught horn at the University of California Long Beach and was the horn instructor at the Music Academy of the West for eighteen years. He was the horn teacher and chamber music instructor at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival for five years and was a member of  NARAS, the board for the National Association of the Recording Arts and Sciences that awards the GRAMMYS. He served as judge for the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts in Miami, Florida (the organization that selects the annual awards of the Presidential Scholars) from 1990-1995.

For many years Jim and his family owned a landmark castle in the Hollywood hills where they entertained musicians from the world over. During the cold war, when the Moscow Symphony from Russia toured the United States, the LA Horn Club invited the brass section to a reception at the castle. It was the only home in the United States they were allowed to visit. Needless to say, the many Russian musicians living in Hollywood seized on the opportunity to meet with the visitors. It started out as a very formal affair but gradually, after many vodka toasts were exchanged, it turned it into a gala polka dancing event. The Russians couldn’t believe this castle was owned by a musician but were convinced after his wife took them upstairs to the sleeping kids' bedrooms. Later Jim met many of these same musicians in Moscow, including Timothy Dokshitsor and Valeriy Polekh. Jim kept in touch with the Polekh family for many years and authorized an English translation of his life story, "Your Valeriy Polekh," for The Horn Call.

Jim's devotion to teaching is evidenced by his book The Master Series for Horn, which includes demonstrations of many exercises, conducted excerpts of famous audition requests, and a master class group series of drills. Along with his son Douglas, he developed the IVASI system (Interactive Video Audition Systems International), which consists of conducted DVDs. The DVDs use a conductor leading an orchestra in standard repertoire to help students learn in a realistic situation of preparing for auditions.

This interview with James Decker was given in the mid 1990s with a public radio station in Maine.

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