Met musicians mourn a principal horn

Met musicians mourn a principal horn


norman lebrecht

November 05, 2021

Message received:
It is with very heavy hearts that we announce the passing of former Principal Horn, Howard T. Howard. 📯
In 1962, Howard won the Principal Horn position at the Met, which he played for 46 years, working with the major conductors of the day, Erich Leinsdorf, Carl Böhm, Fritz Reiner, Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan and James Levine, and renowned opera singers like Luciano Pavarotti. He loved to travel and was delighted when every spring the Met toured the East Coast and occasionally Paris, Japan, Austria and Germany.
On a personal note, when I began my career at the Met at age 22 – Howard showed me the ropes with kindness, and he always had an enthusiastic and upbeat manner about him. Somehow, no matter what we were performing or rehearsing, whether it was Fidelio with the exposed high horn solos, Strauss’ Capriccio or the Ring cycle, Howard never missed an entrance or a note – which is something of an achievement for a horn player. I will remember him and his gentle leadership very fondly.
– Barbara Jöstlein Currie, Horn



  • David Goodman says:

    RIP, Howard. Your memory is a blessing.

  • BigSir says:

    46 years a principal horn? What a glorious career.

  • Antonia says:

    Congratulations, Mr. Howard, on a most amazing career, and mostly on the joy, tears, thrills, and majesty brought to us by your horn over the decades! You have touched so many lives!

    I read Mr. Howard’s obituary. His mastery of his instrument was meteoric over the course of just a few years of study. His early life was marked by several Adverse Childhood Events. The piece is worth reading. This fellow was definitely an overcomer of major obstacles!

  • Philip F Myers says:

    We always went over to my grandma’s house sometime between Christmas and New Year’s.
    The drive took 3-4 hours and quite often the return trip was on a Sunday.
    One year we were listening to the annual Met Opera Christmas performance of Hansel and Gretel.
    It started beautifully but as can happen to all of us the horn player got an “F” intead of a “G”.
    It was jolting and yet the player continued with such a rich sound and smooth slurs that within a
    couple of seconds you doubted that it had happened. The horn player continued absolutely
    Eighteen years later after I had been in New York for five years I got a call from Howard Howard
    (better known in New York as double Howard). By this time I had heard him both live and in the
    broadcasts and he really always sounded like he was singing, really exceptional.
    I was having a contract arbitration with the management of the orchestra having to do not with
    his job but the nature of his working conditions. He asked if I would come to the arbitration and
    testify that his job as first horn of the Metropolitan Opera was just as hard as the first horn job
    in the New York Philharmonic. Thinking of all those Wagner and Strauss opera parts I told him
    that would be no problem.
    The arbitration was 8AM on a Saturday morning. I drove in 35 miles and arrived about 7:30AM.
    He and his legal team were already there. As we stood there on an early Saturday morning
    somewhere downtown I just couldn’t help myself. I had to ask.
    I said “Howard, there something I’ve always wanted to know.”
    “Yes, it was me” said Howard.
    I said “What was you?”
    He said “Hansel and Gretel”.
    I said “How in the world did you know that is what I was going to ask”.
    He said “You have no idea how people have asked about that through the years”.
    Ouch, the life of a horn player.
    So I will never forget the rest of that solo after the error for its calmness and beauty. What an
    example and inspiration. As well as all the rest of the beautiful things I heard him do .