Chicagoans and classical music lovers everywhere are mourning the loss of a great and generous talent.
Dale Clevenger, a master of the French horn whose iconic sound for decades resonated through Chicago’s Orchestra Hall and stages around the world, died Jan. 5 at age 81.
Clevenger dedicated 47 years of his life as principal horn for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and shared his top-tier knowledge of music and performance with friends, colleagues and future generations of musicians.
“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,” Riccardo Muti, CSO music director maestro, said in a statement.
Clevenger’s name alone carried a huge respect in the classical music world that he worked hard to build throughout his long, impressive and giving career.
He was a featured soloist on several CSO recordings, such as the Grammy Award-winning “The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli” with the brass ensembles of the Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras. Dale’s recording of the iconic First Horn Concerto by Strauss with notable conductor Daniel Barenboim and the CSO also won a Grammy. Clevenger’s sound and technique also caught the attention of composer John Williams who wrote a horn concerto for him, which Clevenger premiered with the CSO under Williams’ baton in 2003.
Clevenger didn’t just show his skills on stage. He taught them to fortunate horn player students who, after being coached by him, have won positions in some of the world’s most prestigious ensembles. He taught at Northwestern University, Roosevelt University and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
When he announced his plan to retire in February 2013, Clevenger wrote to his fellow friends and colleagues at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: “You are truly some of the finest musicians on the planet. To have had the pleasure and privilege of making music and sharing the stage with you in thousands of concerts is a sweet memory I shall cherish.”
Thank you, Mr. Clevenger, for gifting Chicago audiences with your heart and talent.
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