Chicago names hon. principal horn for life

Chicago names hon. principal horn for life


norman lebrecht

November 11, 2019

Riccardo Muti has appointed Daniel Gingrich to be Honorary Principal Horn for Life of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in recognition of his period as CSO Acting Principal Horn since 2013.

Daniel joined the CSO  as assistant first/utility horn (bumper) in 1975 then moved up to fourth horn, then third horn, then eventually Associate Principal  horn.  He is widely appreciated for his artistry and his human qualities.



  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    I want to comment on the description of Daniel Gingrich’s career path. One doesn’t “step up” to fourth horn, then third horn, then Assistant Principal. It is not generally appreciated that each of the horn positions in the orchestra is a specialty. Because of the extremely wide compass and general difficulty of the instrument, players tend to excel in either the upper or lower part of the range of the horn. Odd-numbered players concentrate on the upper part of the range, and even-numbered players on the lower part. The selection is generally made by the player’s natural attributes- embouchure and general physiology. Fourth horns, in particular, live at the bottom of the range, and very few first or third hornists would want to have to play those notes for a living. [As examples of outstanding low players, one might mention, among others, Sarah Willis of the Berlin Philharmonic and Denise Tryon, until recently fourth of the Philadelphia.] Second horns must be proficient in the low range, but also spend their lives exactly matching the intonation and rhythm of the first horn- which makes second both an interesting and a difficult position. Principals, of course, play the great solos we all love, and third horns have to be able to do the same. All of this means, of course, that Daniel Gingrich is a truly outstanding and versatile player. Congratulations on a well-deserved honor!

  • Sev says:

    Should be the Honorary ACTING Principal Horn for Life.

  • drummerman says:

    Am I correct in remembering that Mr. Gingrich was principal until June of this year when David Cooper was named principal? Someone please help this old drummer out.

    • Shimi says:

      Gingrich has been assistant principal since 2002 and was filling in as acting principal since Clevenger’s retirement in 2013 until June 2019.

  • Musician says:

    Mr. Gingrich joined the CSO in 1975, not 1977.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Congratulations, Daniel Gingrich!
    Has an “Honorary Principal (whatever) for Life” award been given very often? I’ve never heard of this kind of honor before. Conductors have gotten a “Laureate” tag, or even a “Conductor for Life” tag, but principal players? That’s a new one on me.
    I wish CD releases named the personnel (or at least the soloists) of an orchestra more often, like many of the San Francisco Symphony’s SFS Media issues do. Then we home listeners could know the names of great players like DG.
    (BTW, thank you Shalom Rackovsky for your excellent description of a horn section.)

  • Guest says:

    Its really amazing for an associate principal horn to do the job of principal horn for 6 years. I think something similar happened in Cleveland. But this is no easy job and he must be approaching the age others retire. Really terrific career! Definitely a candidate for MVP, if there was such a thing.

  • Caranome says:

    I was wondering the same thing as Greg. Have they given similar titles to the Hall of Famers of CSO during their golden 70-80s era?: Clevinger (horn), Aitay/Magad at violins, Frank Miller (cello), Herseth (trumpet), Still (oboe). They are like the Yankees’ Murderers’ Row.

    • DirtLawyer says:

      Bud Herseth was named principal emeritus and continued to play with the CSO at times for a few years after retiring.

      As you know, Gingrich labored for decades as a section player and assistant or associate to Dale Clevenger. Gingrich is a fabulous musician in his own right and by all accounts of which I am aware a very kind person. It’s a well deserved and to my knowledge unique honor. He’ll get a heck of a tusch when he decides to call it a career.

    • Mick the Knife says:

      How about Jacobs and Jay Friedman? The latter has been principal trombone for 55 years and is still in the lineup!

  • Hmmm, I wonder if this means there was an unhonorable principle horn?

  • Tromba in F says:

    I wonder if Mark Ridenour will receive a similar honor some day. He served with distinction as acting principal trumpet several times since Herseth’s retirement.

  • Samantha says:

    Class act. I’ve known Dan since I was a kid and my next-door neighbor (who was in the CSO for 50 years) would regularly let me come backstage and meet everyone. He is a phenomenal musician, contributing to the continual greatness of the CSO.