Saturday, October 27, 2007

Beginnings and Endings

Well, the cat's out of the bag! I was planning to talk about this in a couple of months, but it's already been posted out in cyberspace, so I'll talk about it now. My last concert with the Boston Symphony will be December 17th. It's been a long and very productive 32 years. And today, October 27th, is the date I won the audtion in 1975. What a day that was!

I had a 102 degree fever! And I didn't really care what happened! I think that was a good thing because I just played very uninhibitedly. It was a rainy day, just like today here in Boston.

I was very proud to have gotten into the BSO, for that was the orchestra I always thought about when I was younger because my uncle, Sherman Walt, was first bassoon and many of my mentors, of which he was one, were in the orchestra. And now I was a member.

Many people have asked me why I am leaving the orchestra. Even colleagues say, "Aren't you too young to retire? What are you going to do?" My usual response is, "I've been in 32 years. How many 32 year periods do we have?" I have a huge part of my life, separate from the BSO, that I want to deepen and expand upon, like composing and teaching and other personal interests, including playing in other ways.

Tonight, I will be playing Bruckner's "Symphony No. 9" for one of the last times with the BSO. It's an interesting place to be in myself.

So, as Edward R. Murrow used to say, at the end of his radio broadcasts, "Goodnight and good luck." Or, as Walter Cronkite used to say, at the end of his TV broadcasts, "And that's the way it is." Or, as I now have to say,
"On With the Battle of Life!"


Anonymous said...

Everyone should be so lucky as to do something they love and chose when to move on to other things they love. Beautifully written, Norman. I know the world is a better place with your music.

Anonymous said...

Well put Donna.

I'm sure many students of Norman's, like myself, are tempted to feel sad about his retirement. In my case I have been extremely fortunate to play with him many times on the stages of Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, and I am of course sad to see that interaction end.

On the other hand, I have been also extremely fortunate to see his activities blossom into other areas, most notable the Frequency Band, and to participate there as well. I look forward with eager anticipation to what Norman has in store for Boston and the larger musical community in the future!

When we leave college they call the ceremony a commencement, for it is the beginning of a new chapter in life. I am happy for Norman, and for all of us, that he has decided to carry out this commencement while he is still a young enough, energetic enough man to do many more exciting things.

Bravo Norman!

Anonymous said...

You are a master at what you do and the beautiful music you play comes from an incredible person. Its been such a joy knowing you and I wish you well in the days to come.

Anonymous said...

Dear Norman,

It seems like a circle has been completed.

I'm a bit sad on behalf of BSO, that it will now be without the unique and magnificient capacity of you.

On the other hand, I'm very pleased on behalf of you, that you can now move into something else, which I know has a tremendous potential.

And... I'm sure the BSO will not be completely without you - for the 32 years has been written... and I'll bet the influence of your very engaging and inspiring character will live on in your (soon former) colleagues, and thereby in the BSO...

All the best,


Anonymous said...


I will never forget the many inspiring concerts that you have provided me in Symphony Hall and Tanglewood. I will never forget the Mahler 7 euphonium solo -- your sound was from another place.

I am looking forward to hearing and watching your next steps. You have been (and continue to be) a great mentor to me and a constant inspiration.


Anonymous said...

Norman, congratulations on your career with the bso and best of luck with your new endeavors.
I know you've touched many people with your music. I hope John Peter realizes one day how lucky he was to have had a lesson with the "Tiger Woods" of music!!

Unknown said...

In 2002 I asked Norman "How much longer do you think you'll be in the orchestra" as I was a freshmen at NEC and wondering how much time I had to practice before auditioning for the BSO. :) He told me, "Probably not much more than five years. I don't get all of my musical fulfillment from playing in orchestra. I have to do other things, like the Frequency Band."

There is no more comfortable place to play true music than the Frequency Band. It is impossible to "miss a note" or any other orchestralisms that seem to plague music making. There is an electricity that fills the room (brought by Norman and Carol) which everyone taps into and channels through their own instrument. Once you play there it's always with you. The best music I've ever made happened in this ensemble.

I'm a bit sad that Norman will be leaving the BSO becuase I identify that orchestra with him so much--he's played there all of my life. But there are greater things in the making here and I am very excited to see what's to come!

On with the Battle of Life!

dip dub dub,
Ben Walsh.

Anonymous said...


all respect for your decision.
It takes a lot of courage to find out what one really wants, and act upon it.
And I am ever so happy that you can do it.

All success to you and Carol on your known and unknown adventure.

Emmy Schaling

Lise said...

Dear Norman,

Congratulations, with what has been and with what may now become possible. As always, it is inspiring to witness with yourself, and Carol, how you move through Life's changes with value and with your goal steady in sight. I wish you all the best with the new steps. I have no doubt you will continue making greats contributions to music and to humanity with what you do.


Chris Rozmarin said...

I have to agree with Brett Shuster. Hearing you play the euphonium solo in Mahler 7 was something that has never been matched by anyone else! Furthermore;from what I remember, you were on medication to battle a bad cold in order to play and record the symphony!
How I wish I could be there for your last concert.

Best Fishes,