The world’s longest serving concertmastersNews
The recent passing of Raymond Gniewek, concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera, for more than four decades, has raised questions among our readers about others who held the hot seat for the longest time.
As far as we can tell, Vienna holds the record:
1 Arnold Rosé, Vienna Philharmonic, 57 years
2 John Lambros, Charleston Symphony, 55 years
3 Rainer Küchl, Vienna Philharmonic, 46 years
4 Leo Hansen, Danish Radio SO 44 years
5 Raymond Gniewek, Metropolitan Opera, 43 years
6 Willi Boskovsky, Vienna Philharmonic, 43 years
7 Richard Burgin, Boston Symphony, 42 years
8 Richard Roberts, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, 39 years*
= Samuel Magad, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 35 years
= Malcolm Lowe, Boston Symphony, 35 years
12 Gwen Hoebig, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, 34 years*
= Ole Böhn, Norwegian Opera, 34 years
14 Alice Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien, 32 years
= Glenn Dicterow, New York Philharmonic, 32 years
= Warwick Adeney, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, 32 years*
17 Werner Grobholz, Munich Philharmonic, 31 years
= Ralph Matson, Utah Symphony Orchestra, 31 years
Who have we missed?
Yuri Zagorodnyuk was at the Mariinsky for a long time, but did he remain concertmaster all that time?
Richard Roberts is indeed still concertmaster in Montréal, though it is rather clear that Andrew Wan is de facto 1st concertmaster. One generally sees Wan in the leader’s chair most of the time (at Payare’s season opening concert, both were present, though I believe Andrew Wan led the orchestra).
Many orchestras have multiple concertmasters, Berlin most obviously. A concertmaster is a concertmaster – if you’re leading an orchestra, it’s bloody stressful, and if you’re doing it for 39 years, that’s a hell of an achievement. No need to lessen such a man.
Samuel Magad, Chicago Symphony Orchestra concertmaster from 1972 to 2007.
(Fabulous recording of Scheherazade with Ozawa in the mid-late 70s, btw)
Daniel Majewski might have served the Cleveland Orchestra for about 30 years. I can’t find confirmation online.
Ralph Matson, Utah Symphony Orchestra, 1985-2016
Leo Hansen Danish Radio SO 44 years as Concert Master. https://biografiskleksikon.lex.dk/Leo_Hansen
Gwen Hoebig, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, 34 years and still serving
Astonishing that you omitted Willi Boskovsky, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic from 1936 to 1979.
Rainer Honeck has been a concertmaster at the Vienna State Opera since 1984, and the VPO since 1991, which would put him on the list as well.
Gerhart Herzel would also undoubtedly have made your list, serving as VPO concertmaster from 1969 until his tragic accidental death in 1992 with 12 or 13 years to go before reaching mandatory retirement age.
Boskovsky was concertmaster until January 1, 1971, not 1979. Some sources got this confused because he conducted the New Year’s Concert until 1979, but he had already retired from his concertmaster position in 1971, when then 20-year-old Rainer Küchl succeeded him. Also, the VPO website said he became concertmaster in 1939, not 1936 (although that page no longer shows after the VPO redesigned its website last year). So Boskovsky’s tenure as concertmaster lasted 32 years, not 43.
Glenn Dicterow/NY Phil 32 years.
One could in a sense argue for Neville Marriner with ASMIF, but as the repertoire became later and more complex he conducted instead of directing from the violin, later abandoning his highly successful instrumental career for an equally successful one on the podium!
Warwick Adeney, Concertmaster of Queensland Symphony Orchestra 1989-Current
I’ve been concertmaster of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra since 1988 so this is my 33rd season.
I’ve only missed 3 concerts since I won the position.
Best wishes to Gwen Hoebig,
Long time no see.
All the best to my fellow longtimers!
Norman Carol, Philadelphia Orchestra, 29 years. He came from Minneapolis, having been hired as Concertmaster by Dorati, then continuing for five years under Skrowaczewski.
What about Concertmasters who have accumulated as many years but not necessarily with the same orchestra?
David Greed, leader of the Orchestra of Opera North (formerly English Northern Philharmonia) from its formation in 1978 and still in post
Andrew Zaplatynsky, concertmaster Syracuse Symphony Orchestra 1981-2011
Joy Brown Wiener – Memphis Symphony Orchestra 40 years
Donald Hazelwood, concertmaster with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for 33 years.
It is just about unimaginable that anyone will ever top Arnold Rosé’s tenure — and even more remarkably the Nazis caused it to end “prematurely!”
Perhaps someone from the Boston area knows how long Alfred Krips was concertmaster of the Boston Pops. It was certainly measured in decades but I do not know how long.