Dale Clevenger, the principal horn who conducted the wind section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for nearly half a century, is dead. He was 81.
The famous French horn player died in Italy on January 5 from complications of Waldenstrom’s disease, it is stated in a statement from his family. “The great work of his life was to play the head horn with the Chicago Symphony from 1966-2013, where he performed with risk, precision, expression, sensitivity and an infectious enthusiasm – all this made his listeners and students think of music as a way of life, breathing and rich human activity, “the statement read in part.
In a separate statement, CSO’s music director maestro Riccardo Muti said: “The loss of Dale Clevenger, one of the best and most famous horn players of our time and one of the glories of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, leaves a very deep void in the music world. Fortunately, we have many audiovisual recordings of him with the Chicago Symphony to show his unusual technique and noble musical phrasings.I’m sure all his colleagues, past and present, all horn students and I, when we were personal friends, will mourn this enormous loss. “
Mr. Clevenger served as Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra’s music director from 1981-1995, and his career as a conductor boasted performances with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra, the New Japan Philharmonic and the Roosevelt University Symphony Orchestra, among others. many others.
Mr. Clevenger was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on July 2, 1940. He would eventually join the CSO at the invitation of Music Director Jean Martinon in 1966, following positions with Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra and legendary Symphony of the Air, and the Kansas City Philharmonic. .
Mr. Clevenger was highly regarded in the classical music world, although his musical prowess extended across various genres, including chamber music and jazz. He was a featured soloist on several CSO recordings, including the Grammy Award-winning “The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli” with the Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestral Wind Ensembles, according to a post on the CSO’s website. His recording of Strauss’ first horn concerto with conductor Daniel Barenboim and CSO also won a Grammy. He taught at Northwestern University, Roosevelt University and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
In a 2003 interview with classical music broadcaster Bruce Duffie, Mr. Clevenger asked to describe the ultimate purpose of music. He replied: “That the listener, as well as the player, the performer, gets a kind of joy by reproducing these black tones on the page to sound, and it is reasonably pleasant to listen to. It is very arbitrary, for what is pleasant at the time of writing or performance may be pleasant years later. Only time will tell. “
Mr. Clevenger leaves behind his second wife, Giovanna, four children and two grandchildren. His first wife, CSO stand partner for 25 years and a prominent horn player, Alice Clevenger, died in 2011.
A memorial service is scheduled for late spring at Christ Church in Winnetka. No further details were given.