Christopher Larkin

larkinChris Larkin is Chairman of the British Horn Society, has special interest in historical brass instruments and period horn playing, and is also a conductor.

Chris was born in Wigan in Northwestern England and started playing in his school's brass band. He studied at the Northern School of Music with Peter Rider and Julian Baker and at the Royal Academy with James Brown. He has been a member since 1973, and Director since 1982, of the London Gabrieli Brass Ensemble, and has a passion for unearthing and publishing original music for brass. He has been a member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 1979 and has conducted many brass and wind programs for various radio stations around the world.

Chris has researched and recorded CDs of French music for organ and brass, 19th-century brass music and 20th-century American music (including music of Charles Ives) for the Hyperion label. For the 1996 BBC Ives Festival, he created an open-air re-enactment of a George Ives brass band collision in London’s Leadenhall Market. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of brass instruments and often gives lecture-demonstrations, entitled Around the Horn, on horns through the ages. His most recent recording for Hyperion, Antique Brasses, was made entirely on period brass instruments.

Chris owns an extensive collection of historical horns, including two hand horns, two Kruspe crooked rotary valve horns, a Vienna horn, a Raoux piston valve horn, four trompes d'Orléans, a trompe Dauphine, a trompe Dufouilloux, three cow horns, and an althorn.

Chris was elected an Honorary Member in 2014 at the IHS Symposium in London, where he performed on trompes-de-chasse and the Vienna horn.

Michael Thompson

mthompsonMichael Thompson has had a varied career – principal horn in major British orchestras, an international soloist, professor of horn, and conductor.

Mike was born in 1954. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and was appointed principal horn with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at age 18. At age 21, he became principal horn in the Philharmonia, leaving after 10 years to concentrate on his solo and chamber music career.

Numerous solos, premieres, recordings, movie sound tracks, work with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Michael Nyman Band, and Sir Paul McCartney (Stately Horn), conductor of the Ulster Youth Orchestra and City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and Fellow and Aubrey Brain Professor of Horn at the Royal Academy indicate the breadth and depth of his accomplishments. He has been especially acclaimed for his inspiring leadership and work with young musicians. As a member of the London Sinfonietta, he has given many first performances, including the UK premieres of Ligeti's Hamburg Concerto and Richard Ayres's Noncerto.

Recordings include solo repertoire, on period instruments, and with his wind quintet and horn quartet. Numerous soundtracks as a studio musician include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Bond films. He plays a Paxman horn.

Mike was honored with the Punto Award at the IHS symposium in London, where he conducted several concerts.

Sydney Coulston (1910-1999)

Coulston (l) being presented his
Punto Award by Barry Tuckwell

Sydney Coulston was one of Britain's most highly respected hornists and teachers of the 20th century. His influence on British horn playing, through both his teaching and performing, was immense. He had legendary powers of concentration and accuracy, and he was a teacher of great renown.

Coulston was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1910, son of a warehouseman. As a youth, he played tenor horn in the local Temperance Band and worked in a metal polish factory. He moved to a piston valve French horn and studied on scholarship with Otto Paersch at the Royal Manchester College of Music (1927-1930). His first professional position, while still a student, was with the Hastings Municipal Orchestra, a seasonal orchestra with top-class soloists and conductors.

In 1930 he left his studies to join the Scarborough Spa Orchestra and in 1934-1935 played two seasons of opera at Glynbourne. He changed to an Alexander 103 double horn in 1934. In 1938, he became principal horn with three orchestras – the Hallé, the BBC Northern, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic – possible in those days because of part-time and compatible schedules.

In 1940, Coulston joined the RAF Air Gunnery Section, eventually serving as a Lancaster rear gunner over Germany. He returned to the Hallé a few times between sorties to play in wartime concerts.

After the war, the Hallé and Liverpool became full-time orchestras, so Coulston concentrated on playing principal horn with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, later renamed the BBC Philharmonic. He traveled to America in 1950 with Dennis Brain and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham. He frequently was guest principal with the Philharmonic, especially when Brain was away in another engagement. In 1953, he played second to Brain at the coronation in Westminster Abbey. He was a close friend and admirer of Brain, having first met him in Hastings when Brain was there on holiday as a boy.

Coulston was professor at the Royal Manchester College (later the Royal Northern College of Music) from 1950 until his retirement in 1979. His list of successful students is phenomenal. He even gave lessons to Brain on the then-new German horn in B-flat. He remained loyal to the BBC in Manchester, despite the temptation to move to London.

Coulston received the Punto Award at the IHS workshop in Manchester, England in 1992. A profile appears in the October 1992 issue of The Horn Call and a tribute in the 1999 issue of The HORN Magazine of the British Horn Society.

The horn section of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, ca. 1960, included
(l-r) Peter Ryder, Frank Taylor, Robert Aspden, and Sidney Coulston.

Jack Covert

covertJack Covert (born 1937) is known especially for his years of teaching at Ithaca College in New York State (1966-1996), where he was honored with the Dana Professor Distinguished Teaching Award. Many former students play professionally and/or teach at music conservatories, including Martha Glaze-Zook (Philadelphia Orchestra), Gail Williams (Chicago Symphony, Northwestern University), Jon Menkis (Boston Symphony, New England Conservatory), Richard Graef (Indianapolis Symphony), and Rick Menaul (Boston free-lance, Boston University). Jack also taught at the University of Memphis (1965-1966) and at elementary schools in Livonia, New York.

Jack's music education was at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Fred Bradley in the Preparatory Division, with Milan Yancich while earning a BME degree (1959) and Performer's Certificate, and with Verne Reynolds for an MME degree (1965).

Orchestral playing includes the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Memphis Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Northeastern Pennsylvania Orchestra, and Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durbin, South Africa. While teaching at Ithaca College, he also played in the Ithaca Woodwind Quintet and Ithaca Brass Quintet.

Yamaha Brass sent Jack to South Africa in 1974 to work with indigenous brass bands and at universities. He returned to South Africa and Namibia in 1982 to work at a number of universities, concertizing, giving master classes, and consulting on curriculums. Since retiring, he has continued to teach and play: guest teacher at Eastman, sabbatical replacement at Northwestern University, and a season with the Syracuse Symphony.

Jack was honored with the Punto Award at the 2013 IHS Symposium in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dale Clevenger


Dale Clevenger has been principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1966, a soloist with orchestras worldwide, a participant in festivals and symposiums, and a conductor. He received an honorary doctor of music degree from Elmhurst College in 1985 and teaches at Roosevelt University.

Clevenger is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh. His mentors are Arnold Jacobs and Adolph Herseth. Before joining the Chicago Symphony, Clevenger was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of the Air, and principal horn with the Kansas City Philharmonic. While in New York City, he recorded commercial jingles.

Clevenger has performed with ensembles worldwide, including the Berlin Philharmonic with Daniel Barenboim. Summer festivals include the Santa Fe chamber Music Festival, Sarasota (FL) Music Festival, Marrowstone Music Festival (Port Townsend WA), and Affinis Music Festival (Japan),

His recordings include antiphonal music with the brass sections of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, Mozart Horn Concertos, Joseph and Michael Haydn Concertos, Schumann Konzertstück, Britten Serenade, and Strauss Concerto No.1. He premiered John Williams' Concerto for Horn and Orchestra in 1993.

His conducting career has included guest appearances with the New Japan Philharmonic, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Symphony, the Civic Orchestra Chicago, the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra (Perth), the Aguascaliente Symphony Orchestra (Mexico), and the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra.

Clevenger has published a series of method books, The Dale Clevenger French Horn Methods, with the Neil A Kios Music Company.

Clevenger has served on the IHS Advisory Council (1974–1981), received the Punto Award in 2009, and became an Honorary Member at the 2010 IHS Symposium in Brisbane, Australia.

Eugene Rittich (1928-2006)

rittichEugene Rittich played a remarkable 37 years in the Toronto Symphony (1952-1989), taught many fine students, and developed the Rittich mute, the prototype of the mute used by most horn players today. Fergus McWilliam, a former student and second horn in the Berlin Philharmonic, said, "As far as I am aware, there exists no other personality who has had as much influence on Canadian horn players as Eugene Rittich."

Eugene was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1928 to Hungarian parents. The following year, the family moved to Kelowna, a small farming community in British Columbia. His father had studied cello and was able to put together a string quartet. "The first classical music I think I ever heard was a string quartet. We didn't have a radio and there was no exposure to live music in those days, especially in a rural community and in the 30s." A member of the quartet persuaded the town to purchase band instruments, and Eugene chose an alto horn because, with only three keys, it looked easier than the other choices.

The family moved to Victoria BC in 1941, and Eugene studied with Douglas Kent, who switched him to horn. "Douglas Kent was my first horn teacher. He was probably the seminal influence in my musical career." In 1946, Eugene began studies at Victoria College, but academic life looked difficult, and when Kent suggested he audition for Curtis, Eugene decided to try a career in music.

Eugene traveled to Philadelphia in the fall of 1947 and auditioned for Mason Jones, who had just returned from his war service. Eugene was accepted and began his studies immediately. He noted, "Jones was a brilliant player, and I think I probably learned most by hearing him play. He was very meticulous about basic things."

On graduation in 1951, Eugene's ambition was to get a position in one of the major American orchestras, but he realized that if he won such a position, he would be drafted into the US Army. He decided to go to Toronto because it was the closest Canadian city and it was a music center. He joined the Musicians' Union and after the required three-month wait started playing for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). In the spring of 1952, the first horn of the Toronto Symphony left; Eugene auditioned and got the job.

He was principal horn of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1952 and was co-principal or associate from 1973 until he retired in 1989. He was principal horn of the CBC Symphony Orchestra (1952-1964) and the York Concert Society (1953-1965) and a founding member of the Toronto Winds and the Toronto Woodwind Quintet.

The Toronto Symphony and CBC Symphony shared a number of personnel and so had compatible schedules. It was through the CBC that Eugene had the opportunity to work with composer Igor Stravinsky. "The CBC Symphony was well-known through its broadcasts for doing a lot of contemporary music and for being a virtuoso reading orchestra. Stravinsky was interested in recording all his music and so a deal was reached…. Robert Kraft would lead the rehearsals and then Stravinsky would conduct the concerts…. He had a magic touch."

Eugene also studied privately with Philip Farkas (1967), Frantisek Solc (1971), and Arnold Jacobs (1973). Farkas used the bell throat size of Eugene's Kruspe horn as the prototype for the Holton H179 model. Eugene traveled to Brno, Czechoslovakia to study with Solc and learn about the Bohemian style of playing, "because our tradition of horn playing comes from there."

Eugene commissioned John Weinzweig's Divertimento No. 7 for horn and strings and Oskar Morawetz's Sonata for Horn and Piano and premiered both works on CBC radio in 1980, the divertimento with the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra and the sonata with Patricia Parr. A number of other works were dedicated to him.

In addition to teaching and conducting at the University of Toronto (from 1962), Eugene worked for many years with students in the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and, in the summers, with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (founded in 1960). His students have been prize-winners in Prague, Munich, CBC, and Toulon competitions, play in orchestras throughout Canada, in the US, and around the world, and are now themselves horn teachers and music educators.

Eugene developed the Rittich mute beginning in the early 1960s because he couldn't find a good mute. "The only ones were commercial models which had no low register so I started to experiment. I tried a plain cone, which was simple to put together. Surprisingly it worked very well. I started to make and improve them, changing the materials and proportions I used." The Rittich mute is used all over the world and has often been copied.

Eugene is unique in having been named a Punto recipient twice – in 1988 at the Potsdam NY symposium and in 1998 at the Banff, Canada symposium. Tributes to Eugene appear in the November 1998 and October 2006 issues of The Horn Call, and profile in the April 1990 issue.

Eugene Wade

wadeEugene (Gene) Wade was principal horn of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1972-2001) and a music educator with many successful students.

Gene grew up on a wheat farm in Wellington KS. He credits his early upbringing on the farm for teaching him the value of hard work. He began piano lessons with his mother in first grade and moved to horn in eighth grade, studying with Leo Ashcraft in the next town. He listened to symphony orchestras on the radio, and once a month his family traveled 35 miles to Wichita to hear the symphony.

Gene earned a bachelor's degree from Wichita State University, a master's degree from Northwestern University, and a performer's certificate at the Eastman School of Music. His teachers included Philip Farkas, Verne Reynolds, and Louis Stout.

Gene was known for his solid leadership of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra horn section, saying, "The main thing is to try to make things as easy and comfortable as possible with the greatest accuracy and with the best tone." He has appeared as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, among others, and as a member of the Detroit Symphony Woodwind Quintet.

As a teacher, Gene has taught at Wichita State University, the University of Minnesota, Carleton College, Mankato State University, Wayne State University, the University of Windsor (Canada), and the University of Michigan. He has been a guest clinician and recitalist at regional and international workshops. Rick Seraphinoff (Indiana University) comments, "He was a very fine teacher for learning how to play the instrument consistently and easily, and for learning all the things one needs to know to be a successful orchestral player. It was from Gene that I got my basic knowledge of the standard orchestral excerpts during my undergraduate years, and was very grateful to have access to his thorough knowledge of them."

Gene was given the Punto award at the 2001 symposium at Kalamazoo MI. A profile appears in the August 2001 issue of The Horn Call.

Alexander Grieve (1923-2006)

Alexander Grieve receiving the TOAN Lifetime Achievement Award from Roger Wilkins

Alexander Grieve was an outstanding Australian orchestral player, one of Australia's greatest musicians, and beloved for his affability and generosity. "He can make more music with one perfectly placed note than many people do in a lifetime." He was a professional musician, teacher, examiner, and recording artist and an active early member of the IHS.

Alex was a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for thirty years, then principal horn of the Stonnington Symphony (a community orchestra in Melbourne) for many years. He also played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and many Australian orchestras, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Broadcast Company orchestras, Australian Pops Orchestra, and Australia Felix. He was still playing in area orchestras into his 80s "and still makes that magic sound."

Alex made a number of recordings, the most popular being Horn Masterworks (C112 in the Australian Music archives).

Alex was founder and director of the Melbourne Horn Club. He taught at all levels, "in retirement he spent much of his time developing horn players and assisting orchestras by being involved with management committees." He also was an accomplished artist and exhibited paintings and drawings in Australia and overseas.

Alex was awarded the Order of Australia medal in 1994 for services to community music and the TOAN (Australian National Orchestra) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Alex was a member of the IHS Advisory Council (1971-1977) and was given the Punto award in 1986 at the Detmold, Germany IHS symposium. A tribute appears in the October 2006 issue of The Horn Call.

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