Skip to comments.CSO icon Adolph 'Bud' Herseth dies at 91
Posted on 04/14/2013 6:35:08 PM PDT by Borges
Adolph Bud Herseth, who was principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for an astonishing 53 years and did as much as any player to foster its climb to pre-eminence, died yesterday in his Oak Park home. He was 91. Mr. Herseth, who had an avuncular, old-shoe personality, in contrast to exacting performances that turned his Norwegian complexion fire-engine red, was closely associated with renditions of Gustav Mahler, especially the composer's fifth symphony and its opening trumpet solo. Anyone who has heard the CSO brass section riding the sumptuous tonal crests of a Mahler or Strauss blockbuster can trace its distinctive sound and style to Herseth, Tribune music critic John von Rhein wrote in 1995. The man known to colleagues simply as 'Bud' is, in fact, such a vital ganglion of the Chicago Symphony's nervous system that it is hard to imagine the orchestra making music in quite the same way without him. His death came two days after that of another Chicago cultural icon, ballerina Maria Tallchief. Mr. Herseth served as principal trumpet in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra until 2001, and was principal trumpet emeritus from 2001 until his retirement in 2004. Mr. Herseth also taught other top trumpet players, many steered to him by Daniel Barenboim, the CSO's former music director, and other symphony conductors. He's got students playing first trumpet all over the world, said Mr. Herseth's son, Stephen, a Chicago attorney. Barenboim would send people in; (Seiji) Ozawa would send people from Japan to take lessons; (Zubin) Mehta sent some from Israel. Mr. Herseth's long tenure as principal trumpet started out, in 1948, as a fluke. The Bertha, Minn., native auditioned in New York, in conductor Artur Rodzinski's Fifth Avenue apartment, for what he thought was a third-trumpet position. After about an hour, over coffee and cookies, Mr. Rodzinski asked him about his professional experience (none), then declared, Well, you're going to be the new first trumpet in Chicago, according to Mr. Herseth, in an interview published 50 years later by the CSO. Although he is not well known to the general public, to the cognoscenti of symphonic music the world over Bud is the premier orchestral trumpeter of his time, and perhaps of all time, said a 1994 profile in Smithsonian magazine. Wherever the Chicago goes on tour, young players mob him. At the half-century mark of Mr. Herseth's tenure, the CSO threw a tribute concert, Gabriel's Children, with "Doc" Severinsen, 31 other trumpeters and several more horn players. Mr. Herseth conducted the last piece, laying to rest a family quip that he had been stuck in a dead-end job.
Bud Herseth was our long-time neighbor two doors away on Clarence Ave. Never heard him practicing, though, even on pre-AC summer nights!
He was a great musician. RIP.
Maybe he had a soundproof room, or basement.