As 2013 comes to a close, I would like to mention the passing of 2 great trumpet players earlier this year:
Derek Watkins & Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth.
Derek Watkins (2 March 1945 – 22 March 2013)
Believe it or not, I actually only learned about British trumpeter Derek Watkins—around the same time that he died. It bewilders me that in my 35+ years of playing the trumpet, for whatever reason, I apparently never came across his name—that is until now. But I happened to discover him this past year while casually surfing YouTube for some great trumpet videos–& that, I surely found! My very 1st find was of Derek playing a featured trumpet solo on the standard song ‘My Way’ with the James Last (pop) Orchestra—LIVE. It was a bit ‘showy’, but he had an incredibly beautiful tone, great phrasing, nice improv ideas…& then his range–Wow!
But even though I hadn’t necessarily heard of Derek by name, I (like most people) had actually heard (& even grown up with!) a bit of his work without ever even realizing it; his trumpet-voice is the sound of the signature line in the ‘James Bond’ theme. In fact, Derek had played on every James Bond soundtrack, from the very 1st ‘Dr No’ to the most recent ‘Skyfall’. But while Watkins is best remembered for his high-note ‘screamers’ on those JB soundtracks, his career in music was way more extensive than that, & his barrage of impressive film credits aren’t limited to 007. His talents accompanied the scores to other such movies as ‘Mission Impossible’, ‘The Mummy’, ‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Indiana Jones’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Johnny English’, ‘Superman (1 & 2)’, ‘Bridget Jones Diary’, & ‘Chicago’—where his trumpet solo opens the Oscar-winning film.
He often played with orchestras, but was by no means strictly a Classical player; he probably played with them more in a Jazz capacity. He was possibly one of the most versatile (but mainly behind the scenes) trumpeter players the world has ever seen. The great Dizzy Gillespie (RIP) even apparently used to refer to Derek as ‘Mr. Lead’. As a session trumpet player, Watkins earned a reputation as one of the very best in the business. During his career, Watkins played with many big-name A-list acts, including: the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Leonard Bernstein, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, etc . He made recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra & the London Symphony Orchestra, & as mentioned before, he was also a long-time member of that James Last (pop) Orchestra. He even composed some incidental music for the TV series ‘Midsomer Murders’, & ‘A Nero Wolfe Mystery’. He was also a visiting professor for Trumpet Studies at the Royal Academy of Music.
Unfortunately Derek died this past Spring at the age of 68, from cancer. He passed at his home in Surrey England, surrounded by his wife Wendy, their children & grandchildren.
Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth (July 25, 1921 – April 13, 2013)
Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth was the principal trumpeter in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1948 – 2001 (a tenure of over 53 years!), & then retired fully from the orchestra in 2004. He performed under many great conductors, including George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine, etc, & served under 6 different CSO music directors—arguably the most noted being Fritz Reiner (1953 – 1962) & Sir Georg Solti (1969-1991).
During the Reiner years, the orchestra rose to great prominence, due in part to the powerful and precise sound of its brass section. As explained by the Telegraph in London on Sept. 18, 2009, “The orchestra’s rise to fame began with the great Fritz Reiner in the Fifties, but it was during the 22-year reign of the fierce Hungarian Georg Solti that the orchestra became the brawny yet subtle precision instrument that it is today, famed especially for its noble and stupendously powerful brass sound.” A Smithsonian profile of Herseth, published Sept. 1, 1994, offered this description: “The Chicago (Symphony) has long been recognized as one of the world’s great orchestras, and Adolph Sylvester Herseth has had a major role in the evolution of its distinctive sound.” As described in the Chicago Sun-Times, July 22, 2001, “For decades Herseth’s rich, golden tone and powerful yet expressive playing were a cornerstone of the fabled ‘Chicago Sound.’ That brass sound drew worldwide attention to the CSO, and propelled the great American orchestra’s reputation around the globe.” According to an entry on the Chicago History Museum’s online history of the city, the CSO’s “unmistakable sound and high standard of performance helped define the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a world class institution. It also made Chicago an international center for the study of brass instrument performance.”
In 1952, Bud suffered a very bad car accident—& his mouth took what could have been a potentially career-devastating hit to the steering wheel. He had to undergo major dental reconstructive surgery. But his strong will & determination in the passion for his craft helped him to return to his post (at the same high level!) after an extensive rehabilitation. It also helped that Bud always maintained an incredible work ethic in his own ‘practice’ habits—reportedly practicing around 3 hours every day, even well into the latter part of his career.
Herseth was widely regarded as one of the greatest orchestral trumpeters of his generation. Regular concert-goers knew him not only by his golden sound, but also by sight; as long-time Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein wrote in his farewell piece, “Herseth was the man whose face would turn radish-red when he was scaling the trumpet stratosphere or tossing off a rapid scale passage. Where he found the huge volume of air needed to make a notoriously recalcitrant brass instrument soar like that, Herseth wasn’t saying. That was part of the Bud Mystique.”
Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth was an incredible musical influence to many trumpet players—especially to the generation of us brass players now at ‘middle age’ (& older), when we were growing up. His recordings of the Haydn & Hummel Trumpet Concertos are legendary. Recently I saw an interview on YouTube with Phil Smith of the NY Philharmonic who also spoke very highly of Bud—his extensive impact on Phil’s own orchestral playing & musicality, & even his encouragement for Phil to ‘leave the nest’ in Chicago to try his own hand at a principal trumpet chair in NY; & we NY-ers thank him very much for having given Phil that bit of advice!
Herseth died at his home in Oak Park (Illinois), on April 13, 2013, at the age of 91. The position he occupied in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is now named after him – The Adolph Herseth Principal Trumpet Chair.
May the monumental lifetime-contributions made by these 2 great trumpet-giants live on (or at the very least, never be forgotten) in our ever-struggling pursuit to hold onto a ‘culture of quality’ in the dying art, but fine tradition of, LIVE (& high quality) music.
Wishing everyone all the best for a Happy & Healthy New Year in 2014.
I have been post-alerted to a 3rd notable Brass player who also passed during the Spring of 2013:
David Zauder (1928 – April 16, 2013)
Zauder had been raised in Krakow, Poland & was a Jewish Holocaust survivor—having spent 5 years in the concentration camps of Sachenhausen, Flossenburg, Plaszow & Auschwitz where he was forced to tend a crematorium. When he was 15, the liberated Zauder escaped a displaced person’s camp & talked his way into odd jobs at a U.S. Army camp. With a soldier’s help, he contacted relatives in the US & emigrated to Detroit in 1946, where he first lived with an aunt & her family. He played in the Detroit Concert Band & studied both trumpet & English with its director and Leonard B. Smith. He also studied with Harry Glantz in New York where he played first trumpet for the New York Military Academy. He enlisted in the Army and played with a West Point band for four years. He became an American citizen after his honorable discharge. He was then First Trumpet with the Boston Pops & also played for Broadway shows, commercial recordings, & television.
In 1958, Zauder auditioned at Severance Hall for the Cleveland Orchestra. Conductor George Szell said Zauder had no control over soft dynamics and should go home to practice them. A month later, Szell called, gave him a second trial, & hired him. Ten years later, Zauder became the orchestra’s first cornet. In addition to his duties in the orchestra, Zauder helped create the Blossom Festival Concert Band in 1968. He played featured solos in twenty of the band’s July 4th concerts. He also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1978 to 1995. In 1997, he retired at the age of sixty-five. That year, he won the orchestra’s second annual distinguished service award. Executive Director Thomas W. Morris wrote in May 1997, “Overstating the impact David Zauder has had on The Cleveland Orchestra would be impossible.” Michael Sachs, the orchestra’s principal trumpeter said, “David was truly the glue in the institution… He was phenomenal in his attention to detail, his thoroughness of preparation, his complete understanding of how to make everyone around him sound better.”
Zauder died on April 16th 2013, at home in Pine, Colorado, where he’d lived the past six years with his daughter, Karen Zauder Brass, who is president of a Holocaust-awareness & anti-bullying program that talks about her father’s experience in the Holocaust & as a survivor. He was cremated by request, telling his family that he was no better than those who had been cremated at the concentration camps.
A triumph of survival & then even success…An incredible Life-story.