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Adolph "Bud" Herseth



CSO Video Tribute to Bud Herseth


Adolph “Bud” Herseth, who served the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for fifty-six years as principal trumpet (1948-2001) and principal trumpet emeritus (2001-2004), passed away on April 13, 2013, at home in Oak Park, Illinois.

John von Rhein, Classical music critic of the Chicago Tribune, stated, “He was by general consent the most respected and influential orchestral trumpeter of the last half-century, and very probably the greatest. He was an inspiration to generations of brass players. He was a hero to any musician who ever struggled to master what he once called the most strenuous of instruments.”

Rhein, in an article published on April 15, 2013, continued by stating, “For more than a half-century, Adolph Herseth’s distinctive sound and playing style were the bulwark of a brass section whose fabled power and brilliance have long been the sonic hallmark of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was a legend, in the finest sense of that much-abused word.”

Born in Minnesota, Herseth earned a degree at Luther College in Iowa. During World War II, he served as a bandsman at the pre-flight school in Iowa and at the U.S. Navy School of Music. He ended his military service with the Commander of the Philippine Sea Frontier in the South Pacific. In early 1948, Herseth was appointed to the post of principal trumpet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He went on to serve under five CSO music directors.


Although Herseth played well over 50 solo appearances with the CSO, he always thought of himself as a symphony musician, not a solo player.Herseth was devoted to the development of the next generation of symphony orchestra musicians and gave regular seminars, coaching session, and master classes throughout Chicago and Europe. He held honorary doctor of music degrees from DePaul University, Luther College, the New England Conservatory of Music, Rosary College, and Valparaiso University. He was named ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ by Musical America in 1995, and was an honorary member of the Royal Danish Guild of Trumpeters.


In 2001, Herseth received the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Gold Baton Award, the first time the award was bestowed on an orchestral player. He was awarded an honorary membership from London’s Royal Academy of Music. In 1988, the principal trumpet chair of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, was named after him. Upon retirement from the CSO, he received the Theodore Thomas Medallion for Distinguished Service.


In a 2001 interview with John von Rhein, Herseth said, “for years I’ve been telling people I am lucky to get here, fortunate to still be here and to have had all these marvelous experiences.” He stated he would like to be remembered as “a fairly decent guy who gave it his best every time he had the chance.”


Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein, Classical Music Critic

International Trumpet Guild

Lifetime Achievement members

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© Copyright 2014 WindSong Press Limited. All rights reserved. Revised: May 14, 2015