Three weeks ago, I posted an item about a bassoonist in Lake Placid, NY, who was retiring after 64 years’ service. Was David Van Hoesen, I wondered, the longest serving player of all time in the same orchestra?
The wires have been buzzing ever since with suggestions and reader Clinton F Nieweg has come up with a near-definitive list.
The list is heavily Anglocentric. Does anyone know of players in other countries who worked as long, or longer? Russians, perhaps?
1. Violinist Francis Darger: Utah Symphony 1942 to 2011 – 69 years – current member.
2. Bass: Jane Little, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra – 1945 to 2011- 66 years – current member.
“Asst. Principal Bass Emeritus of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Jane Little, first performed with the ASO in 1945 under their original name of
Atlanta Youth Symphony for two years before the orchestra officially changed to Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1947.”
3. Principal Timpanist Richard Horowitz: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra 1946 to 2011 – 65 years – current member.
4. Violinist Felix Resnick: Detroit Symphony Orchestra – 1943 until his death in April 2008 at age 89. 65 years.
5. Bassoonist David Van Hoesen: Lake Placid Sinfonietta NY – 1947 to 2011 – 64 years – retired.
6. Clarinetist Stanley Drucker: New York Philharmonic 1948 to 2009 – 62 years – retired.
In 1948, Drucker won a post in the New York Philharmonic clarinet section.
In 1960, he became the orchestra’s principal clarinetist. In January 2008,
the New York Philharmonic announced Drucker’s retirement from the orchestra
at the close of the 2008-2009 season, for a total of 61 years with the
orchestra and 49 years as its principal clarinet. Guinness logs his career
at “62 years, 7 months and 1 day as of June 4, 2009”.
Drucker’s final concert with the orchestra was July 31, 2009 in Vail, Colorado.
7. Violinist Earl Summers Jr.: joined the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra at age 12 as a section violinist in 1929, the founding year of the orchestra, and retired from performing in 1990 as Concertmaster of the WSO – 61 years.
8. Violinist Jerome Wigler: Philadelphia Orchestra – 1951 to 2011 retired – 60 years – age 91.
9. Principal Trumpet Adolph (Bud) Herseth: Chicago Symphony Orchestra – 1948 until 2001, and served as principal trumpet emeritus from 2001 until his retirement in 2004. 56 years.
10. Percussionist Joe Sinai: San Francisco Symphony “His career as a symphonic performer began in 1915 [and continued to 1970]
… for 55 years with the San Francisco Symphony.”
11.Timpanist Alan Taylor: Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra, 1951 to April 1, 2002. 51 years. (d. May 15, 2002, aged 71)
12. Principal Harpist Sidonie Goossens: “…Her professional debut in 1921
at a Prom concert, and took part in the first tour by the London Symphony
Orchestra. She was Principal Harpist when the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave
its first public concert under its founder, Sir Adrian Boult, in October
1930, and she was still in the post when the Orchestra celebrated its golden
jubilee in 1980, the year she officially retired.”
At age 91 in 1991, she became the oldest person to perform at the Last Night
of the Proms concert, televised by the BBC. She died at the age of 105 on
December 15, 2004. 50 years with the BBC Orchestra.
13. “Violinist Newton Mansfield joined the New York Philharmonic in 1961” to 2011- 50 years – current member.
14. Cellist Jules Eskin: Principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra – 1964
to 2011 – 47 years – current member.
15. Timpanist Erwin Mueller: Muncie Symphony Orchestra, Muncie, IN – since its inception in 1949 to 2011 – current member.
“I checked and while Erwin did play the first concert and in the early days
of the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, he went off to Grad. School and then on to
the Chattanooga and Indianapolis Orchestras before returning to Muncie in
the late 60s. This probably removes him from the list of ‘constant’
membership but as for ‘allied’ membership..around 45 years.” – Leonard Atherton