Brass world in shock at principal’s tragic death

Brass world in shock at principal’s tragic death


norman lebrecht

January 16, 2018

The family of Jan Mortensen has posted that he fell down the stairs on Sunday at his home in Roskilde, near Copenhagen. He was taken to hospital and received stitches. He seemed to be doing well, but died a day later.

Jan, founding principal bass trombone with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, was 60.

In 2001, long before the expulsion of foreign players from Kuala Lumpur, he returned to play in the royal orchestra in Copenhagen, and with the Royal Danish Brass ensemble.

A prodigious teacher, he leaves students and friends all over the world.

Our sympathies to his grieving family.



  • Brett Stemple says:

    Jan was a force to be reckoned with: A friend, a low-brass-brother, and a central mentor in establishing a tradition of excellence throughout the MPO brass section. Although MPO had the honor of his presence for just the first three years of the orchestra’s existence, Jan’s indelible stamp on the work ethic and esprit-de-corps of the MPO low-brass, helped encourage many other excellent low-brass players from Scandinavia, and beyond, to join the orchestra over the years. Jan established a collegial musical legacy of the highest artistic standard wherever he went, a legacy that touched all those who knew and worked with him. The amount of music and life wisdom that I gained from his love, friendship, and musical presence will remain a powerful force for me, on and off the stage, for the remainder of my days. I am certain that there are multitudes that share this special place in our hearts for Jan’s humanity and brass artistry. Thoughts and love to his family, friends, and the broad community of musicians that he forever inspired.

    I am truly heartbroken.

    Brett Stemple, former Section Principal Tuba, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, 1998-2017