Heinrich Lorbeer (1865 - 1943)

Heinrich Lorbeer, 1936

Heinrich Lorbeer was born in Welda Germany on 1865. At the age of twelve he began the study of the violin, and two years later took up the horn. In 1882 he attended the Leipzig Conservatory, studying horn with Friedrich Gumpert, piano with Alois Reckendorf (1841–1911), and composition with Salomon Jadassohn (1831-1902). In the spring of 1885 he was engaged to play in the concerts of the zoological garden at St. Petersburg. The following Fall he returned to Leipzig where he was engaged as fourth horn in the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) and the Opera, under directors Arthur Nikisch (1855-1922) and Emil Paur (1855.1932), and second conductors, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) and Gustav Kogel (1849-1921). In 1891 Nikisch invited him to join the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Lorbeer served the BSO as second horn through the 1922-23 season, then moved to fourth horn until his retirement at the end of the 1936-37 season. BSO biographer, Gerome Brush, had this to say about Mr. Lorbeer:
"When the Lion and the Lamb lay down together, they must have lain down in Mr. Lobeer's heart. He is like Wotan, a great and beneficent presence, a mighty rock that casts a gentile shadow. At the age of 71 hes a giant of strength; he can swim for miles. He is the iron man of this orchestra. His service of 45 unbroken years is a Boston Symphony record, and probably unequaled elsewhere.
Longtime BSO viola player, George Norwood Humphrey, tells the following anecdote about Mr. Lorbeer:
"One of our newer players had made a very bad showing in the Siegfried Horn Call in a recent performance. In the tuning room, we were being bombarded by this call from the new player. He could negotiate everything but the top high note, which persisted in coming out as something else. One Saturday evening, he finally reached it. After several tries it came out as hoped for. Sitting at one of our tables playing cards was Lorbeer our oldest horn player. He had been a very famous player, now playing fourth horn, responsible for the very lowest notes on the instrument. Without laying down his cards, Lorbeer took his horn in one hand, raised the instrument to his lips, and played the very high note that had given the young player so much trouble. He then put the horn down. We never heard the horn call again during our tuning moments."



Brush, Gerome, Boston Symphony Orchestra 1936, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc., Boston, MA, 1936

Humphrey, George Norwood, Becoming a Musician, Xlibris Corporation, Lexington, KY, 2007

Larkey, Amy, "Gustav Heim and the Waldhorn Quartette", The Horn Call, v.VII, n.1, p.34ff, The International Horn Society, November, 1976

Whitwell, David, The Longy Club, An Early Wind Ensemble in Boston, Second Edition, Whitwell Books, Austin, 2011 TX,

Yeo, Douglas, "Horn Players of the Boston Symphony Orchestr, 1881-1988", The Horn Call , v.XVIII, no. 2, p.47ff, The International Horn Society, April, 1988

 Send eMail to Dick Martz
Contents of this site and all original photographs copyright 1999-2011, Richard J.Martz
All rights reserved.