America’s foremost horn has died, aged 93

Friends are mourning the death today of Myron Bloom, the most sought-after horn player in America.

Myron was principal horn of the New Orleans Symphony from 1949 to 1954, when he was recruited by Georg Szell for the Cleveland Orchestra, where he played until 1977. That year, at Daniel Barenboim’s instigation, he became principal horn of the Orchestre de Paris, serving until 1985.

He went on to teach at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

He set the standard of his times.

The International Horn Society writes: ‘We mourn the loss of Myron Bloom, and send deepest condolences to his family and friends.’

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  • One of those epoch-making players, whose ability and virtuosity pushed the envelope of what composers could write for. His legacy will live long.

    • He was originally a cellist and was also very interested in opera and the voice. This must have had an influence on his playing and added a dimension to it.

      • he wasn’t really a cellist but he lived for the cello and was always channeling the cello when he played the horn.

        • Ms. Bloom,

          Mr. Bloom’s passing just came to my attention. From the moment I purchased the 1963 recording of Brahms Piano Concerto #2 with Leon Fleisher and listened to Mr. Bloom’s opening solo I like so many others became an ardent admirer of his playing. As I expressed to him last year no amount of thanks are adequate repayment for the countless hours of enjoyment I’ve received listening to his recordings with the CO. There is obviously one reason why the only George Szell endowed chair in the Cleveland Orchestra is that of the Principal Horn! Please accept my belated condolences on Mr. Bloom’s passing.

  • In a class by himself on the CO recordings. Was it DB’s instigation? I thought his leaving was that he refused to play for Maazel and walked out.

    • Yes, he didn’t appreciate being addressed as Myron in front of his colleagues – which apparently continued even when LM later guest conducted the Orchestre de Paris…….

        • He objected to Lorin Maazel calling him by his nickname “Mike” during a rehearsal and asked Mr Maazel to refer him as “Mr Bloom”.

    • Well sort of. Apparently Mike was itching to go to Paris where Barenboim was. The way he left TCO was extremely unprofessional to say the least. I was present as a bassist in TCO and witnessed exactly what took place. I hesitate going into specifics here in this post.

      • Mr. Flowerman, It was not that Mile was itching to go to Paris. It was that with Szell gone, he was totally devastated and could not remain. He was in a deep depression. Sincerely, Susan

  • I am so sorry to read this news.

    RIP, sir. You are already missed.

    —a Cleveland Institute student from the best years

  • Horn royalty in the USA: the Berv brothers, Mason Jones, Myron Bloom, and Phil Farkas.
    Live long and prosper in the next life, Myron!

      • James Chambers was, in my opinion, the greatest American horn player of the twentieth century. His sound was more than simply dark, huge, and beautiful (though it was most definitely all of those things in spades). There is also a certain tender melancholy in the sound- the more delicate moments in the corno obliggato Mahler 5th recording spring to mind. This yearning, soul-searching, melancholy in the tone is something he has in common with Dennis Brain. It is a pity- and indeed astonishing- that Chambers is so seldom mentioned in this day and age. Perhaps it is due to his relatively early retirement in 1969- though he loved for another twenty years and remained hugely influential as a Juilliard teacher in those years.

        • You might be surprised to know that many of those NYP recordings you think are James Chambers are actually Joseph Singer. They were co-principals almost the entire time, with Chamber beginning a bit before Singer, and Singer lasting a few years afterward. Singer was just as great and was also Arnold Jacobs cousin. The point, I guess, is that Bloom was a fine player among many fine American horn players across the past century.

          • John,
            You clearly don’t have the accuity to distinguish between the work of a competant technician on the horn like Joe Singer and a remarkable artist like Chambers. For starters, Singer did not embrace the great challenge of playing on the kind of deep mouthpiece and large horn equipment (the Conn 8D) that Chambers, Bloom, and yes, Phil Myers after him mastered to such telling effect. I once heard a Mahler 5th with Bernstein around Oct. 1968 where Singer, playing on a Paxman triple horn produced a brassy, overblown, raspy timbre in the all big obbligato solos that was absolutely jarring and downright unmusical – much as Dale Clevenger, his student often has.

          • Marc, De gustibus non disputandum. No need to belittle anyone because your taste is different. Some (me, for instance) might argue that the bigness and relative heaviness of Chamber’s style are not to their taste, while Singer’s lighter approach (he was originally a string player) was more to theirs. In fact, the caricature of Chamber’s playing in Phil Myers’ (in fact, he wrote “audiences equate intensity with volume”) eventually corrupted the entire NY Philharmonic brass section with competitive brutal vulgarity. And by the way, your hero Myron Bloom had much respect for the horns of the British manufacturer Paxman, even though he didn’t play them.

      • very sorry.I do agree. I was unable to write that part of the obituary and was so exhausted. I must though assume respon.sibility. deep regrets.

      • Hi, Kenneth….
        Hope you’re well! I’m delighted that you responded to my comment.
        I’ve got the greatest respect for your dad and uncles. Are you a musician as well?
        I know I’ll get some pushback here, but I’ve always thought the horn section of Toscanini’s NBC Symphony was the finest ever. All those Wagner recordings, the Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures, the Eroica, La Mer, the astonishingly delicate Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun – and so many others – were the absolute tops, hornistically.
        And they played beautifully for the guest conductors as well!
        Tell me, if you would, how many years were all three Bervs in the orchestra at the same time?

        • Thanks so much for your kind words. As I grew up with their sound and artistry I very much agree. I think part of their specialness was that their older brother was a fine violinist-he played in Cleveland when Arthur was there (at 16)and my father had been a prodigy cellist. They grew up with strings, rather than brass, and consequently had lots of exposure to that repertoire and technique. They actually developed the Conn 8D which Bloom, Chambers, and several generations of players used. Even the “Hollywood Horn Sound” is derived from them, as the great Vince DeRosa heard them on tour in LA in 1950, much admired their playing, and began a long tradition of that horn in Los Angeles film recordings.

          They were all together in the NBC from 1938-54. AT had been very unhappy with the horn section selected by Chotzinoff for the initial season in 1937. My father Jack and Harry had graduated from Curtis in 1935, and although when they auditioned they were told they were excellent but “too inexperienced” and the horn section from the Metropolitan Opera was used. Toscanini heard the two brothers as extras on Wagner Tubans and wanted them. Arthur became available as he loved Philly under Stokowski but couldn’t stand Ormandy. Their debut performance in October 1938 is available on YouTube as the Haydn Horn Signal Symphony.

          • Thanks, Kenneth, for your informative comment.
            1938-54! That has GOT to be a record for three brothers playing in the same orchestra. And in the same section!
            Did Arthur ever play under Ormandy at NBC? I don’t remember hearing about E.O. guest conducting the orchestra, as did Stokowski, Monteux, Cantelli, Mitropoulos, and others. I wonder why A.B. didn’t like E.O.?

          • I never heard of Ormandy conducting the NBC. Szell. Stokowski, and Bruno Walter were among those who did.

            Arthur had a special relationship with Stokowski, who in a sense “discovered”’him as a teen student of his first horn, Anton Horner, teacher of many eminent players. Horner had wanted to move down in the section, and Stokie wanted Arthur to take his place, but felt he could “use some experience” so he sent him to Cleveland at 16. His older brother, Henry, was also there as a violinist. When Art went back in the late 20’s as co-principal and later principal he was immensely happy with the orchestra and Stokowski. He was consequently quite disappointed when the conductor went to Hollywood. This was greatly increased by his perception, at least early in Ormandy’s tenure, that he was “a phony.”
            Ormandy might have realized this, as when he auditioned Jack and Harry, recently out of Curtis, he treated them with much disrespect. In fact, they were told to play as the conductor was in the other room. They did, and after a few minutes heard a toilet flush, and from the bathroom Ormandy’s voice/ “that will be all, gentlemen.” Perhaps the first example of a “blind” audition.
            At any rate, AT wanted a different section from the Met the NBC used the first year, and Arthur was more than happy to get away from Ormandy. Sarnoff, who wanted Toscanini’s orchestra to have the best musicians that were available, provided generous salaries. My Uncle’s went from $5,000 a year in Philadelphia to $20,000 in New York in 1938. And AT had heard Jack and Harry as extras on Wagner Tuban during the first season and wanted them in the section too.

  • He sounds impressive. After all those years of working for Szell in Cleveland, I wonder whether he ever felt frustrated working for that orchestra in Paris. It is a bit like a Berlin Phil player deciding to join a Belgian Orchestra.

      • Belgian (or any) orchestras are fine but when you are appointing in one of the world’s top3 orchestra (like Berlin Phil), who seriously wants after that – to play in orchestra of outside of top3 orch.
        For me example – absolutely not! I would stay rest of my life in top3 ensemble – If I would be musician in some kind of that ensemble

  • A true legend.

    The principal wind and brass players at Cleveland during that era was an incredible team: Maurice Sharp, Robert Marcellus, Bernard Adelstein, Marc Lifschey, John Mack, etc.

  • Mike and Susan have been good friends ever since my composer/pianist son attended IU. We’ve been in touch frequently.
    I don’t think many know Mike was a brilliant autodidact. Curious and fascinating conversationalist about many things. He and his cellist wife were extremely kind and generous to us and my composer/pianist son when he attended Indiana University.
    Bloom anecdote: one day Mike inadvertently wore red socks to a concert. The personnel manager told him they could be seen from the audience. No more!

    He never wore other than red socks afterwards. I bet he’s wearing them in Valhalla!

    • When I was an undergrad studying with Mr. Bloom, the IHS had a conference at IU. Vince DeRosa came up to the table I was working, and says “Where’s Mike?”

      Now, at the time Michael Hatfield was teaching at IU, so I said, “Mr. Hatfield?”

      “No, no…Mike Bloom.”

      I walk Mr. DeRosa to Mr. Bloom’s office, and when the door opens, Mr. Bloom exclaims “Vince!” in a booming voice.

      Oh, the days I hung out with legends.

    • Hi Ken,
      Thanks so much for your recollections of Mr Bloom. Until now I knew almost nothing about him personally and found your message fascinating and got a big chuckle out of the red socks incident.
      What wonderful musician he was! It’s been more than 50 years since I first heard him live and I still feel and emotional response to that memory.

      Elwood

    • When my son began at IU, we were touring the music building, and heard a horn. Wandering to the studio from where the sounds originated, we were thrilled to see the name “Myron Bloom” on the door, and hovered by it, hesitating to interrupt. A student passed by, and said, “Go ahead and knock-he won’t mind.” I did, and introduced myself. Excitedly, thrilled actually -“Berv? Berv Brothers? Arthur Berv?” “Jack’s son and nephew of the others.”
      “Come back in an hour.”

      We went to lunch, returned to his studio where we ended up talking almost 2 1/2 hours, trading anecdotes with much mutual respect. It was quite a fascinating interaction because although a generation apart, Bloom and Arthur had been rivals from a distance. Arthur had played principal horn in Cleveland at 16, then Philly under Stokowski, then the NBC under Toscanini-and turned down the Boston Symphony in 1954 when “The Maestro (the “Old Man”) retired, and he and his brothers were involved in the design and development of the Conn 8D, the instrument Bloom played and promoted throughout his career.
      It was the beginning of a very special long term friendship. My son, who was a philosophy major in the liberal arts college as well as a composition/piano major at the music school, and Mike could sit for hours of philosophical discussion.

      I once attended a Saturday group lesson of his studio, and was struck by the fact that every student, from freshman to doctoral candidate, had a beautiful sound, a Bloom trademark.

  • While a student at Juilliard ,I was lucky to work with Mr Bloom in his Woodwind Octet class. I can speak for all of us when I say how much we enjoyed working with him. He had great intensity and cared for whatever repertoire was being performed . Before one of our classes, I asked him what it was like working with the Orchestre de Paris. He said how he enjoyed working with Maurice Bourgue, and Andre Cazalet . He went on a ten minute rant after that!

  • Bloom was only one of Curtis horn prof Anton Horner’s students. Others included Mason Jones who succeeded Horner as Philly’s principal horn and Curtis prof:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OX_3dCDdfw

    and Jimmy Chambers – NY Phil’s principal, Arthur and Harry Berv, NBC SO principal and 2nd.

    IMHO, Jones was equally influential to Bloom. BTW, the original B’way production of Camelot included the Berv brothers in the horn section – as a violin sub, I got to play with them as well as on some film soundtracks with Arthur.

    • My father, Jack, played second horn, Harry third, in the NBC. They went to Curtis together 1933-35 for Artist Diplomas. Arthur was too busy playing principal in Philly to attend conservatory. All four brothers (the oldest, Henry, was a violinist who played in the Cleveland Orchestra) were prodigies. Arthur began on cornet/trumpet, Harry on piano, Jack on Cello.When the family moved from Chisholm, MN to Philadelphia Art took lessons from Anton Horner. Stokowski, and Horner, wanted him to take over first chair but felt he “needed experience” so at 16 he went to Cleveland under Nicolai Sokoloff, and returned in about 1928 to Philadelphia.
      Bloom, aa far as I know, did not attend Curtis (he taught there much later) or study with Horner as did Jones and Chambers, but spent a few years at Eastman before landing a job in New Orleans in 1949. He went to Cleveland as third horn in 1954 and moved to first when that position became available.

      • Bloom did attend Eastman, but his principal teacher was James Chambers with whom he studied after leaving Eastman. I don’t know how long he studied with Chambers, or even if he attended Juilliard full-time, but he thrived with the “big sound” Conn 8D style that Chambers taught.

        I was a student of Mr. Bloom’s at CIM in the 1960’s and was privileged to hear his transcendent playing many times at Cleveland Orchestra concerts. I still listen to Szell/Cleveland recordings almost every day, and always marvel anew at their greatness.

        Even though Mr. Bloom was known for his huge, well-projected tone, I was always impressed with his incredible pianissimo playing which was evident in the Mozart Piano Concertos that Szell frequently programmed and recorded. For those who don’t know, the Mozart concertos recorded with Szell under the name Columbia Symphony were really with the Cleveland Orchestra. They had to call it Columbia Symphony for some kind of contractual issues.

        I also think mention should also be made of Martin Morris, the second horn player under Szell and Bloom. He matched Bloom perfectly in matters of tone, intonation, and rhythmic accuracy.

        • How nice to hear mention of Marty Morris. As the son of a second horn player, and from my Uncle Arthur-I have been told how important that position is in the section, as support for the principal, and as the anchor for ensemble blending. Marty Morris took lessons from my father when they were stationed together in the Army Air Corps Band at Mitchell Field, paying for them by babysitting me, born on D-Day.

  • Kenneth Berv — On July 24 , in response to Mr. Lebrechst’s news item about Gareth and John Bimson playing brass in British orchestras for 75 years, I wrote about the Berv brothers Arthur, Jack, and Harry playing horn for Toscanini in the NBC orchestra, earlier at the Met Opera, and later for Symphony of the Air. They are indeed remembered, even Henry the violinist.
    I mentioned Arthur Berv’s unusual recognition by name on RCA Victor’s Red Seal record label of Leonora’s aria from “Fidelio” by Rose Bampton Tocanini with the Berv brothers in full cry.

    It’s very ood to see your posts here among all these honoring the great Myron Bloom.

  • Sad news…Mike was a great musician whom I had the privilege of befriending more than 10 years ago. Susan ad him spent a few days in my house during their annual trip to France. He told me that his idol had been Emmanuel Feurmann, (he heard him live in NY Ithink) and that he represented the ideal sound for him, that he tried to reproduce with his instrument. He had countless anecdotes about Szell whom he also admired a lot and was very moved when I played a recording of a Szell interview in French. He also wanted to listen to the horn section of the Vienna philharmonic (war time recordings). We would share good wines and Havana cigars, his favorite, while listening to these or bootleg recordings of the Cleveland orchestra under Szell. He also mentioned Casals and his time in
    malborovas well as the time he spent in Paris(btw, what a stupid way to designate the Orchestre de Paris by” that orchestra in Paris” as one commentator did).
    He was also, of course, an amateur of fine cuisine and loved truffles!!
    I lost a friend…

    • I studied with Myron Bloom for a short while in the early 90’s. He had a very strong vocal approach to horn playing. When working on repertoire, he always reminded me of what was happening in the music besides the horn part. He was a very passionate and superlative artist.

    • tres cher Daniel,
      and how we treasured those moments in your home. You are so modest. Daniel is a great doctor and helped Myron physically as well as spiritually.
      We love you. Susan

  • Mention of Marlboro reminded me of a favorite Myron Bloom record: Schubert’s long Lied with French horn obbligato “Auf dem Strom” that he made there with soprano Benite Valente and pianist Rudolf Serkin.

    Bloom’s continued interest in the cello, which he also played, and especially his love of Emanuel Feuermann are music to my ears.

    Good to see mentions of Mason Jones, whom I first heard and noticed in “Mozart’s” sinfonia concertante for winds with Marcel Tabuteau, Bernard Portnoy, Sol Schoenbach, and Stokowski.

  • I feel compelled to express my love for Myron Bloom’s art by relating a few concert anecdotes from my first-hand experience of him as performer.

    As general background, my very first hearing of him was the when my dad bought the newly-released LP of the now consecrated recording of the Brahms Trio recorded with Michael Tree and Rudolph Serkin at Marlboro back in 1961. I was 10 and just beginning my now 58 yr. relationship with the horn. Bloom’s remarkable timbre, vocal production and musical intentionality immediately bound me to the instrument; I have no doubt that no other voice on our instrument would have sounded such an imperative for me to strive after.

    I heard him a number of times with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell during their annual February visits to Carnegie Hall in the mid/late 1960’s. The presence of his voice through the instrument, live in that great ensemble exceeded anything I’ve heard in the vast CO/Szell discography.

    There was a Brahms no.2 (February, 1967) where the great 1st movement solo at the end of the development unfolded into such a resounding presence at the climax that when Bloom came round to the soft resolution on the D natural and the lows strings took over, the usually religiously, dutiful and silent Carnegie audience let out a loud sigh followed by murmurs audible throughout the hall! (Had this been an opera performance, the show would have stopped for a thunderous ovation for this aria.)

    Then there was a CO performance with Maazel in February, 1974 where the very dark hued program consisted of the Ravel Pavane, Kindertotenlieder and Shostakovich no.10. Somehow anticipating that Bloom would precede the rest of the orchestra assembling slowly on stage, and anxious just to hear him warm up, I arrived 30 minutes before curtain with my date. I was not disappointed to observe Bloom just taking his seat, whereupon he played through the famous opening solo of the Ravel a total of some six times, stopping occasionally to work over a phrase. Ultimately, the lights dimmed, Maazel appeared, gave the downbeat, and once again, Myron Bloom rendered the solo superbly with that extraordinary unbroken legato. His endurance was truly unparalleled.

    Yet, this was not yet the highlight: The great Christa Ludwig, coming back to great form in late career strode on stage for Kindertotenlieder to rapturous applause. No sooner had John Mack begun the opening oboe solo that Myron Bloom followed with his descant line and Ludwig began to sing with a hall-filling sotto voce. Throughout, Bloom’s presence behind her was so striking, his seamless lines so arrestingly inflected that I came to the following passing thought: “If there were any justice in the artistic universe, Myron’s playing would, at the performance’s end, deservedly share the acclaim and spotlight with Christa Ludwig.”

    At the conclusion of a magnificent performance, Ludwig and Maazel, pro forma, took their deep bows and strode off the stage diagonally through the orchestra. Then there was a pause of about 20 seconds; the rear stage door reopened, and Christa Ludwig appeared. However, instead of coming back to the stage front, she headed straight across the stage through the back of the orchestra, past the brass section and up to where Bloom was seated, he himself unaware of her approach and still emptying his instrument’s slides. She startled him by taking his right hand, whereupon she lifted him to his feet, holding his arm aloft, facing the audience, just like a referee declaring a boxer the winner. Then, the horn still clasped in his left hand Bloom and Ludwig bowed to the audience, as tears of grateful near-disbelief flowed down my face. This was Myron Bloom, the horn player who left this earth on Thursday, September 26th. We shall not see his like again.

    • dear Marc, this is Myron’s wife Susan. We must be very close in age. Your tribute broke my heart. It describes my deep sentiments as well. I played the Brahms 2nd symphony recoding for him 1/2 hour before he passed. I was weeping with the ecstasy of that moment. I am a cellist. Mike also lived for the cello and through the cello. I am speechless. I would love somehow to meet you. I am a natine New Yorker and went to those Carnegie concerts until I left for university in Bloomington in the fall of 1965.

    • dear Marc,
      Today is my wedding anniversary. I reread this and am weeping. Thank you so much for this tribute. It means so much. your Susan

  • Marc Spetalnik, a one-time horn player thanks you for your memories and the marvelous story of Christa Ludwig, Myron Bloom, and “Kindertotenlieder”, beautifully told.

  • I was in Mr. Bloom’s last class of horn students at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and was usually his first lesson of the week on Monday. As a result many of my lessons included lengthy harangues about Lorin Maazel and the weekend concerts, although Mr. Bloom was always careful to have me come back later in the day so I always got full lesson time. He was obviously unhappy at the time, which certainly contributed to his sudden mid-season/mid-semester departure for Paris. I would like to have had more time with him, but he left me with a storehouse of knowledge about music and the horn, and a nearly endless supply of stories. His departure was not all bad, though, as it gave me an opportunity to take lessons from Albert Schmitter and Rick Solis, also wonderful players and teachers.

  • this is Myron’s wife Susan Moses Bloom. I deeply appreciate this special tribute. I know that it would mean so much to my beloved Myron. thank you.

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