Adolph Sylvester ("Bud")
Herseth was principal trumpet in the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra since he became a member in 1948 and until he
retired in 2001 (53 years!). He is generally recognized
as one of the world's greatest symphonic trumpeters.
Born in Lake Park, Minnesota on July 25, 1921.
Passed away on April 13, 2013, at home in Oak Park. (Obituary
Started playing at 7
His father was the band director at
this little school in Letcher, South Dakota where he got his first
"I remember very distinctly my very
first time playing in the band. It was a summer band concert on
the main street of that little town. I was sitting on the
bandstand, way down on the 3rd or 4th part, and playing some
little march. I was only 8 at the time, but I can remember it to
this day. I thought, Man alive! What a kick this is! And
I'll never forget my Dad looking over at me and smiling a couple
of times. He could see that I really dug it."
The first teacher was James Greco
during the summer of 1937 when Bud went to the first high school
state band camp that Gerald Prescott held at the University of
Minnesota. He had heard Bud play at a regional contest and invited
him to play solo cornet in the summer band. "We had a terrific
time down there."
The next teachers, Marcel Lafosse
and Georges Mager, at the New England Conservatory in Boston
when he went there for two and a half years on the GI Bill after
World War II. The first year and a half, Bud studied with
Lafosse (the second trumpet player in the Boston Symphony; first
trumpeter Mager's schedule was full), and with Mager for his
final year. Mager was a very famous orchestral trumpet player in
those days - he played in Boston under Koussevitsky, even
Monteux, and must have played there 30 years or more. He was a
very, exciting, player and a very inspiring teacher. "I owe
a great deal to that man."
Players who influenced him
In a book by Louis Davidson (Trumpet
Profiles), Bud lists a number of players he admired and whose
playing most influenced his own playing:
Louis Davidson "One of the
first records we had at home - one I played a lot was the
recording of the Shostakovitch First Symphony by the Cleveland
Orchestra with Artur Rodzinski conducting. I didn't know at that
time who the first trumpet player was, but I was very impressed
with that recording. Later I heard Louis several times in person
and I always thought him a really very elegant and marvelous
player. I heard many things that I liked in his playing."
Harry Glanz played in
the New York Philharmonic (Mengelberg, Toscanini, others) then
moved over to the NBC Orchestra a year or two after it was formed.
He was a big influence on all symphonic trumpet players. "With
Glantz I think I was more impressed with the solidity of his
playing. To my way of thinking he was not as inspiring a
player-in terms of really getting turned on when he played-as
Mager was. But he was very reliable, with an excellent sound and
style of playing-one that I think probably influenced more
players than any other during that period."
Maurice Andre"Well, let's
face it, Andre is . . . he's it in terms of solo playing. The guy sounds
fabulous, that's all . . .that's all I can say. I heard him play
live a couple of times, once in Amsterdam, and also in this
area. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the man's
He also list other players: Adolf Scherbaum's
playing because he was the first to really go into the Baroque
high trumpet playing in a big way-a very exciting player. And
jazzplayers like Maynard Ferguson: "Yes, I think
Maynard Ferguson is the greatest brass player in this part of
The Swedish tenor Jussi Bjoerling.
"Ahh ,.. his singing was out of slight, out of sight."
Frank Sinatra "The guy
really puts across the lyrics of a tune."
Preparation for performances
"As far as the individual players
are concerned, preparing for the job is just mainly keeping up
with fundamentals. I practice scales, long tones, and nice broad
vocalise-type studies every day."
Books, specific materials
He try to vary it quite a bit, but
there are several books he use, like the Charlier 36 Etudes,
Smith Top Tones, the Herbert L. Clarke
second and third books. And of course he practice the difficult
things that are coming up. But he try not to over-practice and go
stale on them. He always like to go on the stage with the feeling
that he is doing this for the first time. . . "and let's
Bud does not use any particularly
warmup routine. "I do believe in warming up, and as I grow
older I find that it takes a little longer to get all the brain
cells and all the red corpuscles going. It's a fact of life. You
know, a warmup is just a practice session gradually approached -
that's really all it is. You try to cover some of the
fundamentals, first of all to get a nice freely-produced musical
quality sound. And then you go through a few articulations, and
gradually extend the range until your top, bottom, and middle
registers, articulations, and lungs, are all there."
Herseth used a Bach 1B
mouthpiece with 22 size throat, and sometimes a 1, both on the C
trumpet that he uses 99 percent of the time. On the higher pitched
trumpets (piccolo for the Bach Brandenburg) he used a shallower
Advice from Bud
Lesson with Bud
Here are some notes
that Tim Kent took when he studied with Bud.
Commentary from Bud
Here are some comments
from Bud that Bill Dishman compiled and sent to TPIN.
In the book Arnold Jacobs: Song and
Wind, by WindSong
Press you can find an appendix with info on all the brass
players in Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). The author, Brian
Frederiksen has given permission to use this info here.
Bud on DVD
CSO recorded Mahler 5th
in Germany, 1997.
Hindemith conducting CSO in 1963
- (was on YouTube for a while)
Bud on records
Here is an incomplete list of his
recordings. Except for a few (where Assitant Principal
played), Bud play on all the CSO records (where there are trumpet
parts) for the
last 50 years!
Bud and Norway
His anchestors came from Norway, so in
1977, he visited Norway to see the places where his relatives
lives (in Stange in Hedemark). Bud also held a seminar.
News, other sites, etc.
Sources: THE INSTRUMENTALIST (April 1977), Trumpet
Profiles by Louis Davidson.