January 16, 2022

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Dale Clevenger, Chicago Symphony’s Fearless Horn Grasp, Dies at 81

Dale Clevenger, Chicago Symphony’s Fearless Horn Master, Dies at 81

Dale Clevenger, whose expressive, daring enjoying because the solo French horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 47 years made him one of the vital revered orchestral instrumentalists of his era, died on Jan. 5 at a hospital close to his dwelling in Brescia, Italy. He was 81.

The trigger was problems of Waldenstrom’s illness, a type of lymphoma, his household mentioned.

Mr. Clevenger was a pillar of the famed Chicago brass section, which has lengthy been famend as an unmatched pressure for its clear, majestic sound, fearless assaults and sheer would possibly. Working together with his equally enduring fellow principals, Adolph Herseth on trumpet, Jay Friedman on trombone and Arnold Jacobs on tuba, Mr. Clevenger helped form that part into the envy of the orchestra world, and the enjoyment of its conductors.

In a statement, Riccardo Muti, the orchestra’s music director, known as him “among the finest and most well-known horn gamers of our time and one of many glories of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.”

Mr. Clevenger’s willingness to take dangers on his notoriously treacherous instrument, and his potential to surmount these dangers seemingly with ease, had been symbols of the brash high quality of his orchestra. He was a technical virtuoso, however he was additionally able to producing an unlimited vary of colours on his instrument, Mr. Muti’s predecessor, Daniel Barenboim, said. He was additionally a frequent chamber music partner and soloist.

The Chicago ensemble was already filled with idols when Mr. Clevenger joined in 1966, however Mr. Herseth and Mr. Jacobs had been inspirations for him, each for his or her excellence and for his or her longevity.

When the Boston Symphony supplied Mr. Clevenger a submit within the mid-Seventies, he requested his mentors in the event that they supposed to carry out in Chicago for so long as they bodily may. They mentioned sure. He resolved, he later recalled, that “so long as they had been within the orchestra, there may be nothing that will lure me away from Chicago.” Mr. Herseth went on to be principal for 53 years, Mr. Jacobs for 44.

Mr. Clevenger was, nonetheless, a extra versatile musician than which may suggest. For 17 years he had a daily Tuesday-night date playing jazz with a bunch known as Ears, which he mentioned made him a stronger orchestral participant. “Inside the confines of symphonic construction,” he mentioned in 1978 in regards to the classes he discovered from improvising, “I could make music in a extra relaxed, freer approach.”

Jazz was a aspect gig, however Mr. Clevenger was severe about leaving his seat on the stage to face on the rostrum. “My dream is ultimately to develop into a revered conductor of a serious orchestra anyplace on the planet,” he instructed The Chicago Tribune in 1986. That was to not be, however he did direct the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble within the Chicago suburbs, from 1981 to 1995.

Michael Dale Clevenger was born on July 2, 1940, in Chattanooga, Tenn., the third of 4 kids of Ernest Clevenger, a sawmill producer who was briefly the president of the Chattanooga Opera Affiliation, and Mary Ellen (Fridell) Clevenger, a homemaker. He started studying piano at age 7 and went to concert events together with his father.

“I saved my eye on this form of metallic, which was the French horn,” Mr. Clevenger recalled of attending these concert events in a video interview for Abilene Christian College in 1984. “I used to be infatuated with the best way they seemed. The extra I seemed, the extra I grew to become infatuated with the best way they sound. I had a dream, a imaginative and prescient, to play a kind of issues.”

Unable to afford a horn, Ernest Clevenger purchased his 11-year-old son a trumpet as a substitute, however Dale persevered. At 14, after making do with a college instrument for a yr, he had his personal horn, and his life.

Mr. Clevenger carried out within the Chattanooga Symphony and the Chattanooga Excessive Faculty band, underneath the bandmaster A.R. Casavant, who performed him data of the Chicago Symphony throughout his lunch hour.

He enrolled on the Carnegie Institute of Expertise in 1958 to check with Forrest Standley, the principal of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

After graduating in 1962, he freelanced in New York, joined Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra and spent a yr as principal of the Kansas Metropolis Philharmonic.

He failed his first audition with the Chicago Symphony, in Could 1965, however succeeded at a second, in January 1966. On his first week on the job, he was a soloist in Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Devices, Timpani, Percussion and String Orchestra.

“For his preliminary day out,” The Chicago Tribune reported, “he appears a succesful addition to our very good first chair lineup.”

The Martin concerto was recorded and later released. In addition to showing numerous occasions on document as an ensemble participant, Mr. Clevenger was a soloist on a number of later Chicago Symphony recordings, together with a glowing account of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings underneath Carlo Maria Giulini and a disc of Strauss concertos that received a Grammy in 2002. Mr. Clevenger additionally set down Haydn and Mozart concertos with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, and earned an extra Grammy for the quintets for piano and winds by Beethoven and Mozart, sharing the invoice with the Chicago principal clarinet Larry Combs (a fellow jazz participant on Tuesday nights), two members of the Berlin Philharmonic and Mr. Barenboim.

In his remaining years in Chicago, music critics began raising questions about whether or not Mr. Clevenger was performing as much as his traditional requirements. In 2010 Andrew Patner, writing in The Chicago Sun-Times, known as for him to put “a cap on a singular orchestral profession that ought to be famous for its many triumphs and never a late battle in opposition to time.”

Mr. Clevenger retired from the orchestra in 2013 and joined the Jacobs Faculty of Music at Indiana College. He had additionally taught at Northwestern and Roosevelt Universities.

Mr. Clevenger married Nancy Sutherland in 1966; they divorced in 1987. Alice Renner, a hornist and someday part associate within the Chicago Symphony, grew to become his spouse that yr; she died in 2011. He married Giovanna Grassi in 2012. She survives him, as do a son, Michael, and a daughter, Ami, from his first marriage; two sons, Mac and Jesse, from his second marriage; a sister, Alice Clevenger Cooper; and two grandchildren.

Mr. Clevenger, for whom John Williams wrote a concerto in 2003, all the time maintained that the aim of his enjoying was to please.

“I understand that I’ve been given a present, by God, to make music, to carry out music, and to offer individuals pleasure,” he mentioned within the 1984 video interview. “I’ve the pleasure, the privilege, of constructing individuals completely happy — and in doing so, making my very own self completely happy.”



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