Munich’s much-loved American principal has died

Munich’s much-loved American principal has died


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2023

The marvellous horn player David Moltz died on Sunday of cancer, aged 75.

A Clevelander who studied with Philip Farkas at Indiana University, Moltz won the principal horn position at Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin in the early 1970s before occupying the same seat in the Munich Philharmonic for 43 years.


  • Nicole says:

    Yes, excellent player. Condolences to his family. He was 3rd horn not principal BTW.

  • musician says:

    David wasn’t always much loved. In the 1980s, Celibidache forced him from the first chair to a lower position. He did not resist.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Was David Moltz principal? AFAIK, the two principals of the Munich Philharmonic under Celi were Wolfgang Gaag and Eric Terwilliger.

    What he really was is a marvelous player. RIP.

    • musician says:

      He was first until Celi demoted him. There was a large group of musicians Celi wanted to demote, rumored to be 18 all together. The resistance put up by a woman trombonist convinced the city that a mass firing would be unwise. Her resilience probably saved a lot of jobs. David’s final concert as solo chair was glorious and showed everyone that his demotion was bogus.

      • Don Ciccio says:

        Thanks for clarifying. Do you know what happened after Celi passed away and Wolfgang Gaag departed? Did he audition again? Or did David Moltz, by that time, also left the Munich Philharmonic?

      • Gianni says:

        Very interesting, thank you! So why did Celibidache act like that? Sounds crazy to demote some fantastic musicians, comes close to endangering an orchestra’s balance and quality.

        • Don Ciccio says:

          Things like this are not that uncommon, unfortunately. For example Seiji Ozawa wanted Charles Schlueter demoted or even fired as the principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony. In this case Schlueter fought and won. There are other examples.

    • Axl says:

      Yep, and later Gaag was succeseed by Baborak, then Ivo Gass and currently Macias Piñeira. Terwilliger was succeseed by Brückner and currently Chatenet.

      I’m guessing Mr. Moltz’s later chair was an associate principal chair (1st and 3rd/high) and he was succeseed by Maria Teiwes on 2011

      • Don Ciccio says:

        Yes, and the interesting thing is that when Terwilliger (himself a Farkas pupil) switched to the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the other principal was another Celibidache alumnus: Johannes Ritzkowsky, who worked with Celi in Stuttgart.

  • TJ says:

    Special man.

  • Philip F Myers says:

    I met Dave a few times, always a very nice person to everyone, student or pro. I never got to hear him play, our paths crossed too late but really a great gentleman.