Obituary from Chicago Tribune, December
Vincent Cichowicz, a member of the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra's trumpet section from 1952
until 1974 and professor emeritus of trumpet at
Northwestern University, died Monday evening
following a long illness at his home in Fontana,
Wisconsin. He was 79.
A lifetime figure on the music scene in Chicago,
Cichowicz had served on the faculty at
Northwestern since 1959 and as professor of
trumpet from 1974 until his retirement in 1998.
He began his musical career at the age of
seventeen as a member of the Houston Symphony
Orchestra and, after military service in the
Fifth Army Band, returned to Chicago to attend
Roosevelt University. He was a member of the
Civic Orchestra from 1947 until 1950 and in 1952
became a member of the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra, where he remained for twenty-three
years under music directors Rafael Kubelík,
Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, and Sir Georg
Solti. During this period he also was a member
of the Chicago Symphony Brass Quintet and was a
participant in the Grammy Award-winning
recording of The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli.
He was appointed music director of the Millar
Brass Ensemble in 1995; their collaboration can
be heard on the Delos recording Brass Surround.
In 1997 Cichowicz received a special achievement
the European Chapter of the International
Trumpet Guild and was presented with the Legends
in Teaching Award by Northwestern University,
and in 1999 he received the International
Lifetime Achievement Award.
Cichowicz was a faculty member of the National
Youth Orchestra of Canada from 1980 until 2002,
and the Brass Seminar program at The Domaine
Forget in Charlevoix, Quebec, from 1986 until
conducted numerous workshops and clinics
throughout the United States, Canada, Europe,
and Japan and was regarded as one of North
America's foremost experts in brass pedagogy.
Vincent Cichowicz was born on August 27, 1927,
to Walter and Mary Cichowicz in Chicago,
Illinois, and they preceded him in death, as did
a brother, Walter. Cichowicz's first marriage to
the former Lois
Cahill, with whom he had three sons, ended in
divorce. He married Genriq E. Murphy in 1987,
and she survives him. He also is survived by
three sons, Michael of Evanston, Steve and wife
Donna of Arlington
Heights, and Rob of Evanston, and grandchildren
Kent, Lindsay, and Keith of Arlington Heights,
and by sisters Ange Duda and Ann Carney and
Obituary from Chicago Sun Times, December
Vincent Cichowicz's family didn't have a
musical background, but there were always
classical programs playing on the radio when he
was growing up in Chicago.
The sounds of concerts and operas struck a
responsive note that lingered throughout his
attachment to the trumpet that lasted more than
50 years, and included the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra, Northwestern University and
generations of his students who carry on the
Mr. Cichowicz, 79, died Monday at his home in
Fontana, Wis., from colon cancer.
His wife, Geniq E. Murphy, recalled when the
"His family always had the radio on in their
house to classical music," she said. "They
listened to those Metropolitan Opera broadcasts
that used to be on Sunday. He decided he would
like to try that. He would like to be a
Mr. Cichowicz's family couldn't afford an
instrument, but a local boys' club came up with
an old cornet. He learned to play at school, and
when he made it to Harrison High School, he was
taking lessons from Renold Schilke, a renowned
trumpet player for the Chicago Symphony and an
instrument designer and innovator.
"He used to go to Mr. Schilke's house for
lessons, and he worked in the garden in exchange
for the lessons," Murphy said. "When Vince
graduated from high school, Mr. Schilke got a
call from the Houston Symphony, and they were
looking for a player. Vince went down there and
started at the age of 17."
But it was 1945, and trumpet players were in
big demand with the United States Army.
Cichowicz was drafted into the Fifth Army Band
and opened a one-year stay performing at Brooke
Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
"He played for dance bands and concert
bands," his wife said. "He raised the flag and
lowered the flag."
Following his discharge, he enrolled at
Roosevelt University. In 1952, there was an
opening at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
"He auditioned for it and won the position,"
she said. "He always said that you had to do the
work and be prepared, but there is also luck
His philosophy of playing and teaching was to
bring the music out from the heart, not the
"He would say, 'Don't get yourself tangled up
in the paralysis from analysis. Always go back
to the music. Even when you are doing a
technical, boring exercise, find the music in
it; otherwise it will be deadly boring.'"
His success as a teacher came from his
ability to combine the technical with the
artistic, and to make his students grasp them
both, she said.
"Vince had such a philosophy that kept things
simple," she said. "A lot of people are coaches
and can musically coach how a phrase should go.
He not only could do that, he could teach people
to play the instrument, and after that, learning
the notes was the easiest."
He knew, from experience and study, the
intricacies of breath and brass and lips and
"The trumpet is not a matter of being big and
burly," she said. "It's the efficiency of how
you use everything. That's why Vince always said
that women could play the trumpet as well as
men. It was not a physical thing. It was
Mr. Cichowicz played at the CSO from 1952
until 1974, performing for such directors as
Raphael Kubelik, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon and
Georg Solti. He was a member of the Chicago
Symphony Brass Quintet and performed on the
Grammy Award-winning recording of Giovanni
Gabrieli's "Antiphonal Brass Music."
He was on the faculty of Northwestern
University since 1959 and was a full-time
professor of trumpet from 1974 until retirement
in 1998, receiving Northwestern's Legends in
"When he retired from Northwestern, he went
to conducting, and directed the Millar Brass
Ensemble," Murphy said. "He tapered off on his
own playing because he didn't want to practice
for hours and hours. But he could still pick up
the horn and have that gorgeous sound."
He was especially proud of the Ensemble's
"Brass Surround" recording on the Delos Records
label in 1995, which he directed, she said.
"All the trumpet section are his former
students," Murphy said. "They have a very
particular sound that reflects how he wanted
things and how he played."
The ensemble has prepared another CD, which
Mr. Cichowicz arranged. It will be released next
year and has yet to be titled, she said.
"He loved to travel in Europe," she said.
"But it was related to his teaching. He was not
a golfer. He didn't have a hobby. His passion
was passing on his music."
Mr. Cichowicz frequently conducted workshops
and seminars in the United States, Canada,
Europe and Japan.
Survivors include three sons, Michael, Steve
and Rob; three grandchildren, and two sisters,
Ange Duda and Ann Carney.
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