Denver Symphony Orchestra

The Denver Symphony Orchestra, established in 1934 and dissolved in 1989, was a professional American orchestra in Denver, Colorado. Until 1978, when the Boettcher Concert Hall was built to house the symphony orchestra, it performed in a succession of theaters, amphitheaters, and auditoriums. It was the predecessor to the Colorado Symphony, although the two ensembles were legally and structurally separate.[1]

Denver Municipal Auditorium
The Denver Municipal Auditorium, located at 1323 Champa Street in Denver, Colorado. The building is now (2005- ) called the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, and the main entrance is now on the other side of the building.

Founding and early period

A community ensemble called the Civic Symphony Orchestra had been formed in Denver in 1922. During the Great Depression, the orchestra struggled to pay its musicians and find paying customers. In 1934 Helen Marie Black, the symphony's volunteer publicist,[2] Jeanne Cramner, and Lucille Wilkin founded the Denver Symphony Orchestra to consolidate all the musicians in the city and guarantee union wages. In 1935 they founded the Denver Symphony Guild to develop projects and fundraise for the orchestra.[3] Black served as the Denver Symphony Orchestra's business manager for more than 30 years, twelve of them as an unpaid volunteer. She was the first female symphony manager in the United States.[3][4]

The orchestra's first concert was offered on November 30, 1934, at Denver's Broadway Theatre. Its Tuesday-night concerts were usually performed in the Municipal Auditorium. Both the community and professional orchestras were maintained through the 1946–47 season. Conductor Horace Tureman led both until his 1944 retirement due to illness.[1]

In 1945, Saul Caston, who had been associate conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra under both Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy, was hired as the Denver Symphony's Conductor and Music Director. Caston built the orchestra significantly during his tenure, through touring, school performances, low-priced family ticket plans, and outdoor performances at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, west of Denver. A 1951 Time article documented his leadership, declaring, "Last season the Denver Symphony was among the leaders in performing American music".[1][5]

In 1938, Sergei Prokofiev conducted the orchestra in his First Symphony and performed his First Piano Concerto under the baton of Horace Tureman. The performance was hampered by Prokofiev's demeanor, poor printings of the scores, and insufficient rehearsal time, and pleased neither reviewers nor Prokofiev. During the 1950s, under Saul Caston's direction, Jascha Heifetz, Rudolf Serkin, Gregor Piatigorsky and Leon Fleischer were among the symphony's guest artists.[6]

By the early 1960s, Saul Caston was losing the support of some musicians and members of the community. He was replaced in 1964 by Vladimir Golschmann, former conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, followed in 1970 by Brian Priestman, previously Music Director of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Edmonton Symphony, and the Baltimore Symphony.[1]

The Priestman, Delogu eras

Under Brian Priestman, the orchestra experienced artistic and financial success, along with strong community support. They toured with guest conductors, including Carmen Dragon and Henry Mancini. Denver's commercial classical radio station and the May D&F department store conducted an annual, weekend-long fundraising event, setting up a broadcast studio and performance space in the windows of the downtown store.[1]

In 1972, Denver voters approved a bond issue to build a new performance space specifically for the symphony, and Boettcher Concert Hall opened in 1978,[1] the first U.S. symphony hall to be built in the round.

Sixten Ehrling was appointed Principal Guest Conductor in 1978, and Gaetano Delogu became Music Director and conductor in 1979. Concert pianist and former Music Director of the New Orleans Symphony, Philippe Entremont, became Principal Conductor in 1986 and Music Director in 1988.[1][7]

Labor and financial difficulties

A series of labor disputes began in the late 1970s, forcing a 9-week delay of the 1977 season. The 1980 season start was delayed for twelve weeks. Other financial difficulties began to mount, and significant losses were incurred in the 1984 summer outdoor season due to unusually wet weather. In 1986 the musicians agreed to a 20% pay cut.[1]

In 1988, the first three weeks of the season were cancelled for financial reasons. During the season, the Board Chairperson, the Executive Director, and Music Director Entremont all resigned. In March, 1989, immediately after the annual Marathon fund-raising weekend, the Symphony Association cancelled the remainder of the season. They filed for bankruptcy on October 4. In May 1990, the Denver Symphony Association merged with the newly formed Colorado Symphony Association, which formed the Colorado Symphony, a new and initially smaller orchestra employing many of the Denver Symphony musicians.[1]

The Denver Symphony Orchestra's final concert was performed March 25, 1989.[1]

Conductors and directors

Horace Tureman Conductor 1934–44[1]
Saul Caston Music Director 1945–64[1]
Vladimir Golschmann Music Director 1964–69[1]
Brian Priestman Music Director 1970–79[1]
Sixten Ehrling Principal Guest Conductor 1978–79[1]
Gaetano Delogu Music Director 1979–80[1]
Philippe Entremont Principal Conductor 1986–88[1]
Music Director 1988–89[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Goble, Gary and Joanne, 2005 historical note, Denver Public Library archival collection: Denver Symphony Orchestra and Association papers, 1922-1990
  2. ^ "Denver Symphony Orchestra and Association, WH941, Western History Collection". Denver Public Library. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b Varnell, Jeanne (1999). Women of Consequence: The Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Big Earth Publishing. pp. 116–117. ISBN 1555662145.
  4. ^ "Helen Marie Black". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Music: Denver's Happy Orchestra", Oct. 29, 1951, Time Magazine
  6. ^ Morrison, Simon Alexander, 2009, The people's artist: Prokofiev's Soviet years, pp 73-74, Oxford University Press US,
  7. ^ a b "Entremont Leaving Denver Symphony", January 5, 1989 New York Times,
2014 in music

This topic covers notable events and articles related to 2014 in music.

American Drum Manufacturing Company

The American Drum Manufacturing Company is a family-owned timpani manufacturer based in Denver, Colorado. Former Denver Symphony Orchestra timpanist Walter Light, who built a custom set of drums for himself, founded the company in 1950 when his colleagues began asking him to build timpani for them.

The company offers four lines of instruments:

The Mark XIV is American Drum's top-of-the-line model

The Mark XI is similar to the Mark XIV, but the bowls are made of lighter weight copper

The Metropolitan Model Type B is the budget model. The bowls are made from the same copper as the Mark XI, but the Metropolitan drums have less features.

Continental Chain Tuned is the company's line of chain timpani. They are designed to have similar timbral properties as the pedal drums.The company also builds cases and covers for their drums and reconditions old timpani.

Since every drum is custom-built, the buyer may choose from different bowl shapes with different timbral properties and make any desired modifications to the frames of the drums. For example, European and North American timpanists set their drums up in different orders. The pedals have to be on the opposite sides of the drums in each of the setups.

Boettcher Concert Hall

Boettcher Concert Hall, is a Concert Hall in Denver, Colorado and is home to the Colorado Symphony. It is named after Colorado native and philanthropist Claude K. Boettcher.

Clarinet Concerto No. 2 (Arnold)

Clarinet Concerto No. 2 was the second clarinet concerto written by English composer Malcolm Arnold, his Opus 115. It was commissioned in 1974 by clarinetist Benny Goodman, who had given the American premiere of Arnold's first clarinet concerto in 1967.

In the late 1960s, Goodman telephoned Arnold to commission the concerto; however, Arnold, believing the call to be a prank, yelled "Sod off!" and hung up on him. After this confusion was resolved, Arnold agreed to compose the piece. Upon its completion in April 1974, Goodman travelled to Dublin to collect the score. Arnold left it in his hotel room with flowers and a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey. Several hours later he received a call from Goodman, who noted: "I may be a bit stoned but I think your concerto is just great!"The concerto is tailored to Goodman's jazz background: the first movement, "Allegro vivace", includes a cadenza marked "as jazzy and way out as you please". "Lento", the second movement, is more lyrical, although Paul Serotsky suggests that "this might have 'graced' some horror film". The final movement, "Allegro non troppo", is also known as the "Pre-Goodman Rag", and is characterized by ragtime rhythms.The concerto was premiered at the Red Rocks Music Festival with Goodman and the Denver Symphony Orchestra. When it was first composed, few classical clarinetists were willing to attempt a performance because of the "outrageous" quality of the final movement. Jack Brymer was among the first, other than Goodman, to perform the work publicly, but did not record it. There have since been several recordings made by various musicians.

Colorado Symphony

The Colorado Symphony is an American symphony orchestra located in Denver, Colorado. Established in 1989 as the successor to the Denver Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony performs in Boettcher Concert Hall, located in the Denver Performing Arts center, and throughout the Front Range, presenting education and outreach programs, as well as Masterworks, Pops, Holiday, Family, and the Inside the Score and Symphony on the Rocks series. Its current president and CEO is Jerome Kern. The orchestra's music director is Brett Mitchell, who became music director on 1 July 2017.

Eugene Fodor (violinist)

Eugene Nicholas Fodor, Jr. (March 5, 1950 – February 26, 2011) was an American classical violinist.

Fodor was born in Denver, Colorado. His first 10 years of study were with Harold Wippler, who taught him from 1958 until 1968. Wippler observed that "It was very apparent that he had exceptional talent. Not just technical talent but a great, unusual understanding of music." He then studied at the Juilliard School in New York City, Indiana University and the University of Southern California, where his teachers included Ivan Galamian, Josef Gingold and Jascha Heifetz, respectively.

Fodor made his solo debut with the Denver Symphony Orchestra at the age of 10, playing Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1, and began touring as a soloist while still a young teenager.

Fodor won numerous national contests before the age of 17, including First Prize in both the Merriweather Post Competition in Washington, D.C. and the Young Musicians Foundation Competition in Los Angeles, California.

He went on to win first prize in the Paganini Competition in Italy in 1972, at the age of 22. It was this win that gained him widespread public attention. He achieved the highest prize awarded (second prize, shared with two other violinists since first prize was not awarded that year) in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1974 in Moscow, Russia. This award raised his profile further, as an American sharing the top Soviet prize during the height of the Cold War. He signed a recording contract with RCA Red Seal and was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Fodor was also awarded the European Soloist award "Prix Europeen du Soliste" in January 1999.

Fodor appeared on the television show SCTV on 20 November 1981 in a parody of the Joan Crawford movie Humoresque called New York Rhapsody.His career declined in the 1980s. An arrest for drug possession on Martha's Vineyard in 1989 resulted in negative publicity.After years of battling alcohol and drug addiction, Fodor died from cirrhosis in Arlington County, Virginia, at the age of 60. His first marriage was to Susan Davis in 1978 and they divorced in 1986. His second marriage to Sally Svetland also ended in divorce. He remarried Susan in November 2010. He and Susan had three children and two grandchildren.

Frank Gagliardi

Frank Gagliardi (November 16, 1931, Denver, CO – February 6, 2011, Plano, TX) was an American jazz drummer and percussionist, big band composer, arranger, director, and professor. He was the creator and director of the UNLV Jazz Ensemble from 1974 until 1996. Prior to that, he worked as the drummer and percussionist at the Sands Hotel, accompanying such notable performers as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Patti Page, Lena Horne, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Joe Williams, Marlena Shaw and Joey Bishop among many others.

Gary S. Lachman

Gary S. Lachman (born in New York City, United States) is an American author, international lawyer and former Portfolio Manager for the U.S. Department of State. Formerly a resident of Istanbul, Turkey, Lachman currently resides in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Harold Farberman

Harold Farberman (November 2, 1929 – November 24, 2018) was an American conductor, composer and percussionist.

Harold Wippler

Harold Wippler (born c. 1928) is an American violinist and teacher from Denver. Mr. Wippler played as concert master for the Denver Symphony Orchestra, now the Colorado Symphony Orchestra with his late wife Charleen whom he married in August 1951. The two often played with the Central City Opera Orchestra and spent three years in the early 1950s with the Kansas City Orchestra where Harold was also concert master. Attending the Curtis Institute of Music after winning the L.A. Concerto Competition, he studied under Efrem Zimbalist. During his career he collaborated and recorded with noted violinists such as Jascha Heifetz. Although he has taught multiple international competition winners his most famous student was the talented Eugene Fodor from 1958 to 1968.

Helen Marie Black

Helen Marie Black (June 2, 1896 – January 31, 1988) was an American cultural and civic leader, journalist, and publicist. She was a co-founder of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and served as its business manager for more than 30 years, being the first female symphony manager in the United States. She was posthumously inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 1991.

John Browning (pianist)

John Browning (May 23, 1933 – January 26, 2003) was an American pianist known for his reserved, elegant style and sophisticated interpretations of Bach and Scarlatti and for his collaboration with the American composer Samuel Barber.

Joseph Silverstein

Joseph Harry Silverstein (March 21, 1932 – November 21, 2015) was an American violinist and conductor.

Known to family, friends and colleagues as "Joey", Silverstein was born in Detroit. As a youth, Silverstein studied with his father, Bernard Silverstein, who was a public school music teacher. He began studies at the Curtis Institute of Music at age 12. His teachers included Efrem Zimbalist, D.C. Dounis, William Primrose, Josef Gingold, and Mischa Mischakoff. Although he never formally completed his high school education, Silverstein did graduate from Curtis in 1950. Following completion of his studies at Curtis, Silverstein played as a section musician with the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Denver Symphony Orchestra.In 1955, Silverstein joined the second violin section of Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), the youngest musician in the orchestra at the time. In 1959, he won a silver medal at the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition, and in 1960 he won the Naumburg Award from the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation. In 1962, Silverstein became BSO concertmaster, a position he held for 22 years. He was appointed assistant conductor of the BSO in 1971. Whilst in Boston, Silverstein performed with other local ensembles such as the Civic Symphony and Banchetto Musicale. He also taught at the New England Conservatory, Yale University, and Boston University as well as serving on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center. Silverstein left the BSO in 1984.

Silverstein was music director of the Utah Symphony from 1983 to 1998. He served as acting music director of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001 until the orchestra's demise in 2003. He was the artistic advisor to the Portland Symphony Orchestra for the 2007-2008 season. In addition to teaching in Boston, he served as a professor of violin at the Curtis Institute of Music. In 1969, he became a faculty artist at the Sarasota Music Festival. Silverstein performed on a 1742 Guarneri del Gesù.

Silverstein married Adrienne Shufro in 1954. Their marriage produced two daughters, Bunny and Deborah, and a son, Marc. His widow, three children, and four grandchildren survive him.

Marvin P. Feinsmith

Marvin-Matis P. Feinsmith, bassoonist, is a native New Yorker, a graduate of the Mozarteum University of Salzburg, the Juilliard School, and the Manhattan School of Music as first bassoonist with a master's degree. Marvin has studied bassoon with Simon Kovar for five years and Elias Carmen one year. He studied reed making with Harold Goltzer and Norman Hertzberg and chamber music at Juilliard with Julius Baker and privately with Harold Gomberg.

Michael Palmer (conductor)

Michael Palmer (born 8 May 1945, Indianapolis, Indiana) is an American orchestral conductor. Since 1993 he has served as Artistic Director of the annual Bellingham Festival of Music (Bellingham, Washington, USA). He has also served as Artistic Director of the Orchestral Institute at the Quartz Mountain Music Festival (Lone Wolf, Oklahoma) since 2006.

Palmer began his professional career at age 21 when he became Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in 1967, for which he was later named Associate Conductor. In that capacity he also became the first director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra in 1974.

In 1975 he was one of the first young conductors to be selected as an EXXON/Arts Endowment Conductor by the National Endowment for the Arts.

He left the ASO in 1977 to become Music Director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra (1977–1990), followed by posts of Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra (1989–1997) and the American Sinfonietta (1991–2002).

Palmer also was Guest Conductor for three seasons for the Houston Symphony Orchestra (1978–1981) and a Co-Principal Guest Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra (1979–1982). He has also held academic conducting posts as Director of Orchestras for Wichita State University (1999–2004) and Georgia State University (2004–present).

Pasadena Symphony and Pops

The Pasadena Symphony and POPS is an American orchestra based in Pasadena, California. In 2010 it took up residence at the Ambassador Auditorium, where its Classics Series runs from October through April. Since 2012 it performs a summer series at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden from June through September.

Roger Greenberg

Roger Greenberg is an American saxophonist and saxophone teacher.

Walter Light

Walter J. Light (1927–1979) was an American timpanist, percussionist, and drummaker. At the age of 16, he was appointed to a percussion position in the Denver Symphony Orchestra, joining his father, Walter E. Light, who was the timpanist. He began a 27-year stint as principal timpanist after his father's death in 1952.

Dissatisfied with the instruments available to him post–World War II, he took up drum building in order to recreate the Dresden-style timpani built in Germany before the war. Eventually, other timpanists asked Light to build drums for them. In 1950, he formed the American Drum Manufacturing Company, which still builds custom timpani to this day.


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