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Richard Oldberg in the early 1960s

We have just learned of the passing of Richard Oldberg, a longtime member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section, who died in Estes Park, Colorado on December 27, 2021. He was eighty-three.

Born on June 21, 1938, in Evanston, Illinois, Oldberg began his horn studies in the public school system and received instruction from Charles Zweigler and later Max Pottag (CSO horn, 1907–1946). He attended the summer music programs at Interlochen Arts Camp, and he later attended Harvard and Northwestern universities, where he studied with two CSO principal horns, Philip Farkas and Christopher Leuba. A lip injury temporarily forced him to give up the horn, and he briefly turned to premedical studies. However, in January 1962, with encouragement from Leuba, Oldberg was invited to perform as an extra horn with the CSO. He continued to work as a regular substitute and was invited by new music director Jean Martinon to join the Orchestra as assistant principal horn beginning with the 1963–64 season. Following the departure of Wayne Barrington the following season, Oldberg moved to third horn, remaining in that position for the next twenty-nine years until his retirement in 1993.

Oldberg was a frequent soloist with the Orchestra and appeared in Strauss’s Second Horn Concerto with Irwin Hoffman conducting, as well as Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns on numerous occasions under Daniel Barenboim, James Levine, Michael Morgan, and Sir Georg Solti. In March 1977, Oldberg—along with his colleagues Dale Clevenger, Norman Schweikert, and Thomas Howell—was soloist in a recording of Schumann’s Konzertstück under Barenboim’s baton for Deutsche Grammophon.

His grandfather, Arne Oldberg, was a prominent composer, pianist, and educator, serving on the faculty at Northwestern University from 1897 until 1941. Between 1909 and 1954, the CSO gave the world premieres of sixteen of his works, including his Third, Fourth, and Fifth symphonies and a violin concerto. One of Arne’s sons (and Richard’s uncle), Eric Oldberg, was a prominent neurosurgeon in Chicago, and he served as president of the Orchestral Association from 1952 until 1963 and later as a life trustee. Eric presided over the appointment of both Fritz Reiner as sixth music director in 1953 and Margaret Hillis as founder and first director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus in 1957.

A dedicated educator, Richard Oldberg served on the faculty at Northwestern University for many years. After leaving Chicago, he was principal horn and guest conductor with the Boulder Philharmonic in Colorado, regularly leading their annual performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with the Boulder Ballet. In his retirement, he enjoyed his longtime hobbies of book collecting (mostly Sherlock Holmes and mountaineering), model railroads, and hand-copying the scores of Richard Wagner’s operas. He and his wife Mary were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association.

In a July 1989 interview for the CSO’s Oral History Project, Oldberg reflected on his time in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. “I’ve had a grand time. I’m the luckiest person on the face of the earth. Like Lou Gehrig said, I’m doing what I want to do. This isn’t work, this is fun, and I’m having a wonderful time doing it, playing the music that we play, and so, I’m a very happy fellow as a result.”

Richard Oldberg’s wife Mary preceded him in death in 2019. He is survived by his son David from a previous marriage.

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra Principal Trumpet Adolph “Bud” Herseth in the 1960s
Adolph Herseth in 1938 (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association)
Avis Bottemiller and Adolph Herseth (center) in the 1930s in Bertha, Minnesota (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association)
Adolph Herseth in the midst of the CSO’s brass section in 1988 (Jim Steere)
Adolph Herseth with Daniel Barenboim, the CSO’s ninth music director (Jim Steere)
Adolph Herseth in the 1980s (Jim Steere)
Adolph and Avis Herseth at the CSO Alumni Association reunion in the Club at Symphony Center on June 3, 2011 (Dan Rest)
Adolph Herseth and Doc Severinsen perform with the CSO in Orchestra Hall on June 7, 1988 (Jim Steere)
Adolph Herseth demonstrates his warm-up technique at the Ravinia Festival in the late 1970s
Adolph Herseth serving in the U.S. Navy in the 1940s
Adolph Herseth performs Taps at the gravesite of Sir Georg Solti in Budapest, Hungary on April 1, 2005 (Todd Rosenberg)
Adolph Herseth in the early 1990s (Jim Steere)
Adolph Herseth enjoying a round of golf in Lucerne, Switzerland in September 1978 (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association)
Adolph Herseth’s first concert with the CSO was at the Ravinia Festival on June 29, 1948, under the baton of Eugene Ormandy.
Proof sheet from photo session featuring Adolph Herseth in the 1970s (Robert M. Lightfoot III)
CSO brass section musicians Adolph Herseth, Rudolph Nashan, Wayne Barrington, Arnold Jacobs, and Frank Crisafulli perform for Chicago schoolchildren in the 1960s
Newlyweds Avis and Adolph Herseth in 1943 (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association)
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Assistant Conductor Tauno Hannikainen onstage in Orchestra Hall on October 14, 1948, at the beginning of Adolph Herseth’s first downtown season as principal trumpet
CSO trumpets Frank Holz, Renold Schilke, Gerald Huffman, and Adolph Herseth onstage at Orchestra Hall on October 14, 1948, at the beginning of Herseth’s first downtown season as principal trumpet
Gabriel’s Children, the concert celebrating Adolph Herseth’s fiftieth season as the CSO’s principal trumpet, on June 7, 1998
Adolph Herseth in the 1980s (Jim Steere)
The Herseth family’s 1953 Christmas card (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
CSO brass section musicians Arnold Jacobs, Frank Crisafulli, Richard Oldberg, Vincent Cichowicz, and Adolph Herseth in the mid-1960s (Terry’s)
Karel Husa, Adolph Herseth, and Sir Georg Solti backstage following the world premiere of the composer’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra on February 11, 1988 (Jim Steere)
Adolph Herseth in the early 1980s (Robert M. Lightfoot III)
Associate Conductor Kenneth Jean leads the CSO brass section in The National Anthem at Soldier Field on September 14, 1987, for the Chicago Bears‘ home opening game
Leonard Bernstein and Adolph Herseth discuss a detail in Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony during a rehearsal break in Orchestra Hall in June 1988 (Jim Steere)
Adolph Herseth (far right) with fellow Luther College band members in 1940 (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
MOZART Horn Concerto No. 3, Bassoon Concerto, and Oboe Concerto, and HAYDN Trumpet Concerto (Deutsche Grammophon, 1981–1984)
Valerie and Georg Solti greet Avis and Adolph Herseth in Orchestra Hall’s ballroom on March 18, 1969 (Terry’s)
Adolph Herseth and Sir Georg Solti rehearsing Husa’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in Perth, Australia in March 1988 (Jim Steere)
The school band in Bertha, Minnesota in 1929 (Adolph Herseth is pictured near the far right of the second row, second from the end) (Adolph Herseth collection, Rosenthal Archives of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association)
Clark Brody, Willard Elliot, Donald Peck, Dale Clevenger, Jean Martinon, Ray Still, Adolph Herseth, Donald Koss, and Jay Friedman backstage before a performance of Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra in February 1966 (Terry’s photo)

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Norman Schweikert in 1988 (Jim Steere photo)

It is with great sadness that we share news of the passing of Norman Schweikert, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s horn section from 1971 until 1997, who passed away at his home on Washington Island, Wisconsin on December 31, 2018, after a brief illness. He was 81.

A native of Los Angeles, Schweikert began piano lessons at the age of six, added violin soon after, and turned to the horn at age thirteen. His first horn teachers were Odolindo Perissi and Sinclair Lott, both members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During high school, Schweikert won a scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival, where he studied with Joseph Eger. In 1955, he auditioned for Erich Leinsdorf, then music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and won his first professional post as fourth horn there. He was its youngest member and in succeeding years played second and third horn.

While in Rochester, Schweikert attended the Eastman School of Music and performed and recorded with the Eastman Wind Ensemble under Frederick Fennell. Studying with Morris Secon and Verne Reynolds, he graduated in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree and a performer’s certificate in horn. During his eleven-year tenure in Rochester, Schweikert served three years with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point as well as five years on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Academy as instructor of horn and a member of the Interlochen Arts Quintet.

In June 1971—at the invitation of music director Georg Solti—Schweikert joined the Chicago Symphony as assistant principal horn, just in time for the Orchestra’s first tour to Europe. In 1975, he was named second horn, the position he held until his retirement in 1997 (he continued to play as a substitute or extra until June 2006). Schweikert appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra on a number of occasions, and in March 1977 he—along with colleagues Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, and Thomas Howell—was soloist in the recording of Schumann’s Konzertstück for Four Horns under the baton of Daniel Barenboim for Deutsche Grammophon.

In 1970, Schweikert chaired the International Horn Society’s organizing committee and served as its first secretary and treasurer. He continued on the advisory council, contributed many articles to The Horn Call, and was elected an honorary member in 1996. From 1973 until 1998, Schweikert served as associate professor of horn on the faculty of Northwestern University.

In his retirement, Schweikert and his wife Sally—a thirty-year veteran of the Chicago Symphony Chorus—made their home on Washington Island in Wisconsin, where he performed with the Washington Island Music Festival. They were longtime members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association, regularly attending annual reunions. Schweikert also continued his research into the lives of U.S. orchestra members, a project that he started while studying at Eastman, and his collection of material on the subject is likely the largest private collection of its kind in the world. In 2012, Schweikert’s book The Horns of Valhalla—the story of horn players Josef and Xaver Reiter—was published by WindSong Press Limited.

Schweikert is survived by Sally, his beloved wife of fifty-seven years; and their son Eric, principal timpani of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Details for a memorial service are pending.

Between 1972 and 1981, Daniel Barenboim made a number of recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, returning to the label in 2003 for a release of piano concertos with Lang Lang.

A complete list of Barenboim’s catalog with the CSO on Deutsche Grammophon is below (all recordings were made in Orchestra Hall unless otherwise noted).

BEETHOVEN Concerto for Violin in D Major, Op. 61
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 26, 1977

BORODIN Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1977

BRAHMS Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3, and 10
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

BRUCKNER Helgoland
Men of the Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

Barenboim leads the Orchestra and Chorus in a recording session for Bruckner’s Psalm 150 in Orchestra Hall on March 3, 1979 (Robert M. Lightfoot III photo)

BRUCKNER Psalm 150
Ruth Welting, soprano
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 0 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 1 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 9, 10, and 13, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 2 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1981

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 3 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13 and 15, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, November 1, 1972

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 5 in B-flat Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6 in A Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 13, 1977

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 6 and 7, 1979

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 6 and 9, 1980

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

BRUCKNER Te Deum
Jessye Norman, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
David Rendall, tenor
Samuel Ramey, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1981

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 1 in C Major, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

DVOŘÁK Slavonic Dance No. 8 in G Minor, Op. 46
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 17, 1977

ELGAR Concerto for Violin in B Minor, Op. 61
Itzhak Perlman, violin
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 23 and 24, 1981
1982 Grammy Award: Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist

LISZT Les préludes
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

MENDELSSOHN Concerto for Piano in G Minor, Op. 25
Lang Lang, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 24 and 25, 2003

MENDELSSOHN Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 7 and 10, 1979

MOZART Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

MUSSORGSKY/Rimsky-Korsakov A Night on Bald Mountain
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

NICOLAI Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV Russian Easter Overture, Op. 36
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SAINT-SAËNS Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 78 (Organ)
Gaston Litaize, organ (recorded at the Cathédral Notre-Dame de Chartres, France)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 27, 1975

SCHUMANN Konzertstück for Four Horns in F Major, Op. 86
Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, Thomas Howell, and Norman Schweikert, horns
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

Barenboim leads CSO horns Norman Schweikert, Thomas Howell, Richard Oldberg, and Dale Clevenger in a recording session for Schumann’s Konzertstück in Orchestra Hall in March 1977 (Christian Steiner photo)

SCHUMANN Manfred Overture, Op. 115
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 28, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op 61
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 21 and 22, 1977

SCHUMANN Symphony No. 4 in D Minor, Op. 120
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded in Medinah Temple, May 28, 1975

SMETANA The Moldau from Má vlast
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded December 5 and 17, 1977

TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Festival Overture, Op. 49
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Capriccio italien, Op. 45
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27 and 28, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Concerto for Piano No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
Lang Lang, piano
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded February 21 and 24, 2003

TCHAIKOVSKY Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Marche slav, Op. 31
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25 and 27, 1981

TCHAIKOVSKY Romeo and Juliet
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 25, 1981

Arnold Jacobs, CSO principal tuba from 1944 until 1988

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Concerto for Bass Tuba in F Minor
Arnold Jacobs, tuba
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 22, 1977

WEBER/Berlioz Invitation to the Dance, Op, 65
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 10, 1979

WEBER Overture to Oberon
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Recorded March 3 and 7, 1979

the vault

Theodore Thomas

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