playingErich Penzel first recorded many horn concertos and sonatas; his discography is perhaps the most legendary of any hornist in the twentieth century. Through his recording and his teaching, he has influenced horn playing in Germany and throughout the world.

Penzel was born in 1930 in Leipzig, in the former East Germany. He received his horn training at the Musikhochschule in Leipzig, where he studied with Wilhelm Krüger and Albin Frehse. From 1949 to 1961 was the solo horn of the Gewandhausorchester in Leipzig; from 1954 to 1960, he was a member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra; and from 1955 to 1961 he taught horn at the University of Leipzig. In 1953 he won third prize in the Prague Spring competition.

In 1961 Penzel escaped from then East Germany and was solo horn of the WDR (West German Radio Orchestra) Köln (Cologne) until 1973.

In 1973 Penzel became the horn professor at the Musikhochschule in Köln and Maastricht.  Many important hornists have since studied with him, including Christian Lampert, Stefan Dohr, Wolfgang Wipfler, Marie-Luise Neunecker, Claudia Strenkert, René Pagen, Will Sanders, and Jens Plücker.

In 2005 Penzel was elected an IHS Honorary Member and received the Order of Merit, First Class, for his outstanding achievements. He continues to teach horn and chamber music at home and abroad.

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