In May of 2005, I hosted a trumpet conference that featured the former principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony, the great, Adolph Herseth.  It was a three-day event that not only showcased him in recital with none-other than Doc Severinsen, but featured him in a number of educational settings.  What follows is an article written by a former student, Jerod Sommerfeldt, and myself that appeared in the September 2005 ITG Journal.

Adolph Herseth Presentation

Perhaps the most touching moment of the festival, aside from the emotional standing ovation he received at the opening convocation, was seeing Mr. Adolph Herseth on stage, listening to recordings of himself playing most of the well-known trumpet excerpts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, while his own parts were displayed on a large screen behind him, in a PowerPoint presentation.

Another very memorable moment of the festival came at about fifteen minutes into the presentation when someone walked out onto the stage while Mr. Herseth was speaking and “interrupted” the event. This “interruption” was made by none other than Doc Severinsen, Bud’s long time friend, colleague and student! It had been a number of years since these two masters had seen each other so this reunion was very emotional for the two of them and also for the audience. Doc then took a seat in one of the front rows of the auditorium and listened respectfully to the rest of Bud’s presentation and even asked a few questions.

Some of the excerpts that were discussed were Bach, Brandenburg Concerto no. 2; Mahler, Symphony no. 5; Mussorgsky/Ravel, Pictures at an Exhibition; Hummel, Concerto in E; Stravinsky, Song of the Nightingale; Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra; Scriabin, Poem of Ecstasy; and Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra.

One of Mr. Herseth’s main points in his presentation was to always play musically and not just mechanically. To him, it is important to have the ability to be flexible while playing, and be able to interpret excerpts in a variety of ways. He was quick to give examples of the different ways to play a particular excerpt. He first played a solo from Mahler’s Symphony no. 1 in a very straight manner, and then repeated the excerpt with a completely different emotional approach to it. It really changed the way that the musical idea spoke to the audience.

Another large aspect of his talks, not to mention his other discussions, was to always convey a musical story. For him, it isn’t just about hitting all of the right notes; one has to be able to tell the story that goes along. This was a valuable piece of information that he provided everyone with, because it helped those in attendance understand the high level of emotion that Mr. Herseth brings to his playing. His presentation was definite highlight to the weekend.