Karajan’s timpanist dies, aged 90

Karajan’s timpanist dies, aged 90


norman lebrecht

December 30, 2020

The Berlin Philharmonic reports the death of Oswald Vogler, principal timpanist from 1970 to 1997.

He was hired by Karajan from the Bochum Symphony Orchestra, after impressing Karl Böhm with his precision in Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony.

Vogler was famed among percussionists for his motto: ‘we don’t hit, we play.’

He died on December 26.


  • QA says:

    ‘we don’t hit, we play’ – wise man! RIP

  • PHF says:

    Also known as Abbado’s “best friend” in his early years at BPO. Great musician, RIP.

  • Alexander Radziewski says:

    My professor from 1978-85, The former and still acting principal Timpanists coming from his school and attenting at his funeral will not have enough space to carry his coffin. One of the most remarkable Timpanists of all time has left us.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    ….‘we don’t hit, we play’: excellent advice for all percussionists!
    Saul Goodman, principal timpanist of the New York Phil from Mengelberg through Bernstein (think of it!) once said in a master class I attended: “Don’t hammer nails!”
    Oswald Vogler was a master as well, as can be heard from the Karajan/BPO recordings starting in 1970, and on into the Abbado era.
    An all-time great has passed.
    Rest in peace, Professor Vogler.

  • JussiB says:

    Do we know why Herbie joined the Nazi Party *two* times and only got banned for 2 years after the war??

  • Pedro says:

    His sentence is absolutely right. One of the many qualities I found in Karajan’s performances was the full integration of the timpani in the orchestral sound. Even when he used two timpanists (for example in Beethoven 9) it seemed that they were playing from inside the orchestra. I felt same in the four times I heard the BPO with Karajan in the work (in Vienna, Berlin, Salzburg and again in Berlin).