Julie Landman is widely known and admired for her 25 years as principal horn of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, teaching at Juilliard, master classes at horn workshops, and as a proponent of the Carmine Caruso method. She has been a mentor and role model to many young horn players.
Julie was born in 1953 and aspired to play at the Met after attending the opera and hearing Howard T. Howard playing principal. She studied at Juilliard with James Chambers, Howard T. Howard, and Carmine Caruso. After serving as co-principal in the Houston Symphony, she won the position of principal at the Met from behind a screen through the audition finals, saying later that she was convinced that she would not have won without the screen.
At the Met, Julie specialized in the demanding Wagner and Strauss operas, but has also been active in summer chamber music festivals. She premiered Gunther Schuller’s Quintet for horn and string quartet in 2009.
In 2015, retired from the Met, Julie is still actively teaching and playing.
Michel Garcin-Marrou has combined a distinguished performing career with pedagogy and served two terms on the IHS Advisory Council (1998-2004). He has a special interest in historical instruments of the Baroque and Classical periods and reinstated the hand horn class at the Conservatoire National Supérior de Paris that had been disbanded a hundred years ago.
A native of Genoble, Michel earned a degree in Philosophy and a first prize in horn at the Conservatoire de Grenoble, then continued his studies under Jean Devemy at the Conservatoire in Paris. After two years of service in a military band, he won first prize at the Geneva International Horn Competition in 1965 and went on to play in several orchestras, including principal horn in the Orchestre de Paris. Later he performed with many European period instrument orchestras.
Michel has taught at Conservatoires in Lyon and Paris, participated in symposiums and workshops, and is researching a book on the history of the French horn and horn players of France.
Gunther Schuller (1925-2015)
"Scholar, composer, conductor, teacher, author, music publisher, indefatigable advocate − Gunther Schuller isn't merely a musician, he's a monopoly." This description by Alan Rich in New York Magazine summarizes the multi-faceted career of this Pulitzer Prize-winning practitioner of the 28-hour day. Schuller coined the term "third stream" to describe the union of jazz and classical music − a clue as to how he straddled and combined the two genres.
The son of German immigrants, Gunther Alexander Schuller was born in New York in 1925, appropriately enough on St. Cecelia Day, patron saint of musicians, November 22nd. After attending a private school in Germany, where an accident resulted in the loss of one eye, he returned to New York and enrolled at the St. Thomas Church Choir School, where he studied music and sang as a boy soprano. He also began to study flute and horn, and was engaged by the New York Philharmonic as a substitute hornist when he was 15. During his high school years, he also studied music theory and counterpoint at the Manhattan School of Music. He joined the Cincinnati Symphony as principal horn at age 17 and the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera at age 19, where he played for 15 years. Although he was mostly hired as principal horn, Schuller later said that he loved playing fourth horn. He balanced his performing and composing careers by composing all night after playing opera performances. But by 1959 his schedule had become too arduous, and he decided to give up performing to devote himself more fully to composition.
At the age of 25, Schuller taught horn at the Manhattan School of Music, beginning a distinguished teaching career; his positions have included Professor of Composition at the School of Music at Yale (1964-67), President of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston (1967-77), Artistic Director of the Tanglewood Berkshire Music Center (1970-1984), the Spokane Bach Festival, and The Festival at Sandpoint (Idaho), and Co-Director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. His love of a wide range of American music guided the activities of his publishing and recording companies, Margun Music (now part of G. Schirmer) and GM Recordings.
Schuller is acknowledged as father of the Third Stream movement. He became interested in jazz in Cincinnati, primarily through the music of Duke Ellington, which he transcribed from recordings and arranged for the Cincinnati Pops. He was actively involved in the New York bebop scene, performing and recording with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and pianist John Lewis. He wrote a series of works to perform with Lewis, with both the Modern Jazz Quartet and a larger ensemble, the Modern Jazz Society. Typically, in these collaborations, Lewis would lead a jazz ensemble augmented by strings or woodwinds, which Schuller conducted. Schuller worked with Arturo Toscanini, Miles Davis, Aaron Copland, Ornette Coleman, Leonard Bernstein, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, John Updike (librettist for Schuller's opera The Fisherman and His Wife), Joe Lovano, Elvis Costello, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Zappa, and others. “The Third Stream movement,” he once said, “inspires composers, improvisers and players to work together toward the goal of a marriage of musics, whether ethnic or otherwise, that have been kept apart by the tastemakers − fusing them in a profound way. And I think it’s appropriate that this has happened in this country, because America is the original cultural melting pot.”
Schuller created original compositions in virtually every musical genre, including commissions from the Baltimore Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Boston Musica Viva, Chicago Symphony, Minneapolis Symphony, National Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic. Commissions include his 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning work Of Reminiscences and Reflections for the Louisville Orchestra; An Arc Ascending for the American Symphony Orchestra League and the Cincinnati Symphony; The Past is in the Present, also for the Cincinnati Symphony; a Sextet for Leon Fleisher and the Kennedy Center Chamber Players; Brass Quintet No. 2 for the American Brass Quintet; an Organ Concerto for the 1994 Calgary International Organ Festival; and Ritmica-Melodica-Armonica for the Newton Symphony Orchestra. In 2010 the Boston Symphony commissioned a large work, Where the Word Ends, and in 2014 performed his earlier Dreamscape in Boston and New York. He composed to the end of his life.
Schuller was self-taught as a composer. He was partial to the 12-tone methods of the Second Viennese School, but he was not inextricably bound to them. Arnold Schoenberg and Duke Ellington were both musical lodestars. Schuller used serial technique in most of his compositions, and in fact used the same tone row in a number of diverse works. He wrote for unusual instrumental combinations, such as a Symphony for Brass and Percussion, quartets of four double basses and four cellos, more than 20 concertos, including for double bass, contrabassoon, alto saxophone, and a Grand Concerto for Percussion and Keyboards.
Schuller gathered together a lifetime of observations on conducting in his book The Compleat Conductor (Oxford University Press). His extensive writings, on a variety of subjects ranging from jazz through music performance, contemporary music, music aesthetics, and education, have been issued in Musings: The Musical Worlds of Gunther Schuller. His monumental jazz history, The Swing Era, was published in 1989. In 2011 he published an autobiography, Gunther Schuller: A Life in Pursuit of Music and Beauty. He wrote an article on the Brahms Horn Trio weeks before his death.
Among Schuller's many awards are: a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Award (1991); the Pulitzer Prize (1994); inaugural Member of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame; DownBeat Lifetime Achievement Award; the Gold Medal for Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1997); the BMI Lifetime Achievement Award (1994); the William Schuman Award (1988) given by Columbia University for "lifetime achievement in American music composition"; and several Grammy Awards. Though a high school drop-out, Schuller also received twelve honorary degrees from various colleges and universities. “As a composer and teacher,” composer Augusta Read Thomas, the chairwoman of the selection committee for the MacDowell award, said at the time, “he has inspired generations of students, setting an example of discovery and experimentation.”In 2000, the IHS elected Schuller an Honorary Member for his lifelong contributions to music and the horn. When contacted about the award, he said, "This is a special honor for me because I haven't played the horn since 1963. I am very grateful to be so honored in the company of many other great horn colleagues."
While his numerous contributions to the larger music world are widely known, perhaps Schuller's best known contribution to the horn world is his book Horn Technique, first published in 1962 and later re-issued by Oxford University Press. His compositions, covering a full range of musical genres, have included or featured the horn in almost every one. In addition to his challenging large ensemble works, he composed numerous chamber works including horns in traditional settings (e.g., brass quintets) and innovative combinations, and as featured instrument: two horn concertos, a horn sonata (commissioned by the IHS), Lines and Contrasts for 16 horns, Five Pieces for Five Horns (recorded by Barry Tuckwell and the NFB Horn Quartet), and the Quintet for horn and strings (co-commissioned by the IHS, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, and the La Jolla Music Society and premiered by Julie Landsman and the Miró Quartet in 2009).
In the final pages of his memoir, Schuller wrote: “All I can say for myself is that I at least have tried hard to use my all too brief time on this planet as fruitfully as possible, as productively as I could imagine…. The only thing about the prospect of dying that upsets me – that I grieve over – is that I will never again hear all that beautiful music that I have come to know and love. But then some people tell me that I will, in fact, hear all that music – and more – in the afterlife.”
Material from The Boston Globe and New York Times obituaries is included here.
Adriaan van Woudenberg
Adriaan van Woudenberg was the solo hornist in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam for 41 years and also the hornist in the Danzi Wind Quintet, one of the most highly regarded quintets active in the 1960s and 1970s. He was also an exponent of the natural horn.
Woudenberg was born in 1925 in Amsterdam and studied horn at the Conservatory there with Richard Sell. In 1943 he won a position in the Concertgebouw Orchestra and was promoted to solo horn in his second year, a position he held until 1985.During his tenure in the orchestra, he devised the system of co-principals that has become standard throughout the world.
Woudenberg made many recordings with both the orchestra and the quintet and collaborated with Hermann Baumann in recordings of natural horn. Many composers wrote works for the quintet, including Rob du Bois, Peter Schat, Ton de Leeuv, Misha Mengelberg, and Josef Tal.
Woudenberg has taught at the conservatories of Maastricht, Tilburg, and the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. His students include Fergus McWilliam, Sören Hermannson, Peter Steinmann, and Herman Jeurisson.
Woudenberg was elected an IHS Honorary Member at the symposium in London in 2014.
Phil Myers, a native of Elkart, Indiana, has been principal horn of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra since 1980 and a member of the New York Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet. He frequently solos with the orchestra and and at other venues and has recorded as soloist and with members of the horn section.
Phil started piano at age 8 and horn at age 9. He studied with Frank Brouk and Dale Clevenger, then with Forrest Standley at Carnegie Mellon University (on Clevenger’s recommendation). He was principal horn of the Atlantic Symphony in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1971-1974), third horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony (1974-1977), and principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra (1978-1980) before joining the New York Philharmonic. Dennis Brain and Myron Bloom were early influences.
Phil is currently a faculty member at Mannes College, New York University, and the University of Music Lausanne in Fribourg, Switzerland. At one point he owned 17 instruments; currently three or four. He was known for playing Conn 8Ds for years, but later switched to an Engelbert Schmid triple horn.
Phil was elected an Honorary Member in 2014 at the IHS Symposium in London, where he and the New York Philharmonic horn section performed a recital and the Schumann Konzertstück.
Lowell Greer holds a unique place among the hornists of his generation. Known for his musicianship and versatility with or without valves, he has received critical acclaim and international recognition as an orchestral hornist, chamber musician, soloist, educator, and horn maker.
A Wisconsin native, Lowell began violin studies at age 4 and took up horn at age 12 due to a hand injury. His parents, both college professors, changed jobs several times, so Lowell had many horn teachers, the most notable being Ernani Angelucci of the Cleveland Orchestra. Lowell returned to Wisconsin to study with John Barrows at the University of Wisconsin and then pursued studies in Chicago with Helen Kotas, Frank Brouk, Dale Clevenger, and Ethel Merker. While in Chicago, he freelanced extensively, performing with the Chicago Civic Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, shows, recordings, and as extra horn with both the Chicago and Milwaukee Symphonies.
Lowell joined the Detroit Symphony in 1972 as assistant principal. In 1978, he accepted the position of principal horn of the Mexico City Philharmonic and began to pursue his solo career. In 1980, he moved to Europe to better pursue his natural horn interests, and performed in Belgium as guest principal horn of the Antwerp Philharmonic/Royal Flemish Orchestra. He returned to the US in 1984, where he served as principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony until 1986. He also performed as principal of the Toledo Symphony from 1990-1997.
During this time, he won seven first prizes at six prestigious international horn competitions: Heldenleben (1977), Gian Battista Viotti, Vercelli (1978), Hubertus Jaachthoornfestival (1979), SACEM, Paris (1981), Jacques-Francois Gallay (1981), and American (1983, 1984).
As a soloist, Lowell has performed on natural and modern horn with some fifty orchestras in the US, Canada, Mexico, and all across Europe, not to mention his appearances at numerous chamber music venues. His extensive discography includes four CD’s on Harmonium Mundi, including the Mozart Horn Concertos and Quintet, Brahms Horn Trio, and the Beethoven Sonata on natural horn, and a recording for Decca L’oiseau Lyre of the entire music of Mozart for winds performed on original instruments.
A dedicated scholar and educator, Lowell has taught at Wheaton College, Oakland University, Interlochen Arts Academy, the School for Perfection in Mexico City, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan, and at the Carl Neilsen Academy in Odense, Denmark. An acclaimed expert on natural horn performance, his research has led him to become a maker of fine reproductions of classic instruments, and he has taught a course in natural horn building techniques at the William Cummings House since 1994.
Lowell was honored with the Punto Award at the 2008 International Horn Symposium in Denver, where he led his natural horn group, the Hunting Horns of General Washington, and was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 2014.
Wendell Hoss (1892-1980)
Wendell Hoss, distinguished hornist and revered teacher, is perhaps most often associated with the founding of the Los Angeles Horn Club and the International Horn Society. He served as the first President of the LAHC, and was the first Vice President of the IHS. He is known throughout the horn world for his transcription of the Bach Cello Suites, for many years the transcription to have, and still highly influential. Respected and admired also as a true gentleman, Hoss has been hailed as “the Dean of American Horn Players.”
Hoss enjoyed a wide-ranging career prior to settling in Los Angeles. As early as 1916, he had played extra horn with the Chicago Symphony in their first performance of the Strauss Alpine Symphony. He was principal horn of the Cleveland Orchestra (1921-22). He returned to Chicago (1922-23) as principal horn, but soon left, not wanting to participate in the humiliation of his teacher L. de la Mare, who was dismissed around the same time. He was principal horn of the Rochester Philharmonic from 1924-1930, at the same time becoming the first professor of horn at the Eastman School of Music. From 1928 to 1930 he commuted to New York City for commercial recording and radio work, even playing briefly with the NBC Symphony. He again was principal horn in Cleveland (1930-32), where he also soloed with the orchestra in Mozart’s 3rd Concerto.
Hoss moved to California in 1933, entering the busy commercial scene. There he remained, interrupted only by a two-year engagement (1940-41) with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Fritz Reiner conducting. (Fittingly, Hoss played Bach for Reiner at his audition.) During his years in Los Angeles, Hoss played with every major film studio orchestra, including 18 years with the Walt Disney studio.
Hoss was soloist with the Rochester and Cleveland orchestras numerous times. He also loved chamber music, performing regularly with the Cleveland Chamber Players and forming the Lobero Trio with his wife, Olive, on violin and viola and pianist Melvin Smith. He recorded the Schubert Octet with the Kolisch Quartet in Washington DC in 1940. He celebrated his 70th birthday with a performance of the Brahms Trio and Schumann’s Adagio and Allego.
Hoss taught at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Southern California at Santa Barbara, the Music Academy of the West, San Diego State College, and the California Institute for the Arts. His students include composer John Cage, Robin Graham, Keith Johnson, George Cable, Walter Hecht, Warren Greff, and David Jolley.
Hoss was a founding member of the IHS, on the Advisory Council (1970-1976), first Vice President (1971-1972), and was elected an Honorary Member in 1974.
James Decker (1921-2013)
James 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.