Bud Herseth, who was the principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony for over 50 years, died this weekend. How often do you hear of someone who is unquestionably the best at what he did? Not only that, but the best for a half-century. Like Michael Jordan winning 50 straight NBA titles or something.
There’s a lot of information about him out there, though a good place to start is by listening. Jim Darling once told me that everything you need to know about trumpet playing is in one little four-bar phrase in the first movement of Mahler’s 4th, the way Herseth played it. My favorites are the desert-island worthy Mahler 5, conducted by Solti, and the soft melodious solos in the Fritz Reiner-led “Song of the Nightengale.”
Or, at around 2:59 into this, one of the more fingernail-biting entrances there is:
A while back, someone posted “Herseth Lesson Notes,” and while they have things that are great ideas for musicians of all kinds, there are a few broader concepts for even non-musicians:
- There are appropriate times for beauty and crudeness – use both.
- Never practice – always perform.
- Never work harder than necessary for a desired result.
- Listen to good artists, and know what you want.
- I would rather jump right in and make mistakes than be timid.
- Have the attitude of “I can play anything”.
- For your own personal satisfaction, DO THE BEST JOB THAT CAN BE DONE!
- Be anxious to play, not afraid to play.
- LIVE!!!!! Play and show you are alive, and have something to say to the audience.