Formidable US principal horn has died, aged 68

Formidable US principal horn has died, aged 68


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2016

We have been informed by family contacts of the death of Kendall Betts, one of the leading US horn players of the past two generations. He had been suffering from lung cancer.

Picked by Eugene Ormandy for the Philadelphia at age 18, he freelanced with various ensembles before settling as principal horn of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 2004.

Kendall Betts Horn Camp was considered one of the instrument’s best education programs.

Our sympathies to his family.

kendall betts


  • The Cookseys says:

    So sad. Glad we got to see him at camp this summer.

  • Cho-Liang Lin says:

    Tennstedt’s Bruckner 4 with Minnesota circa 1982 was amazing. Kendall’s gorgeous solos were a crucial part of that memorable performance. He will be missed.

  • NYMike says:

    Between leaving the Philly Orch. and going to Minn, Kendall spent some time as a freelancer in New York where he established an enviable reputation.

  • Joseph says:

    I lived with this guy for months, and worked for him. Strange character, but never a dull moment! He will be missed, and remembered for his shenanigans!

  • Lewis Lipnick says:

    Kendall and I were roommates in high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy back in 1963-64. He used to wake me up at night to listen to him try horn mouthpieces. He was a real character, but in a wonderful way, and one hell of a great horn player. I am greatly saddened by his untimely death…

  • Rob Haskins says:

    One of my favorite colleagues at the University of New Hampshire—he had the highest standards, a wealth of funny stories, and real wisdom.

  • Gregory S. Cowap says:

    Kendall was the best friend anyone could wish for. The world is a smaller place without him. He will be truely missed. Too short a life for a man that gave so much. Will miss him. Rest in peace my friend.

  • Steve Logan says:

    I am 63 years old and am new to horn playing having only begun study of the horn in August 2016. Recently I have begun to learn of Kendall Betts and his famous horn camp. Although I never knew anything of him as so many others have I can see that Mr. Betts must have been a monumental personage in the horn world. I am saddened to learn of his passing. Such a man will be truly missed.
    Steve Logan