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Vol. 25, No. 2 - January 2001

Adolf Scherbaum (1909-2000)

Adolf Scherbaum (Courtesy of Josef Bayer)


Adolf Scherbaum, one of the 20th century's most important exponents of Baroque music for the trumpet, died August 2, 2000, in his sleep. Adolf Scherbaum was born in Eger in 1909 and studied in Prague and Vienna. His first job as trumpet soloist at the county theatre of Brünn (Brno) was followed by engagements under conductors such as Joseph Keilbert with the German Philharmonie Orchestra of Prague and Wilhelm Furtwängler with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Berlin.

He held a brief academic engagement at the University for Music at Pressburg, Czechoslovakia, following World War II, but the bulk of his career was spent as a member of the Northern Germany (NDR) Radio Orchestra in Hamburg and touring and recording as a specialist in Baroque trumpet works. He performed Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 over 400 times and recorded the work on several occasions. He and his son developed a high B-flat trumpet that he typically used for this work and many other works of the Baroque period.

Among his honours are the Nordgau-Culture Prize of the city of Amberg (1968) and the Culture-Award of the city of Sulzbach-Rosenberg (1979). The latter was in recognition of his contributions to the lives of young musicians. He also received the Albert Schweitzer Peace Medal in 1979, recognizing reconciliation and abstention from violence, placing him in the company of Pablo Casals, Josef Hromodka, Martin Niemöller, Pablo Picasso, and Günter Slotta.

Maurice André once stated, “I am being followed by many, but I had a single predecessor, Adolf Scherbaum, to whom I owe it all. It was his playing that set the standard and shaped my style." (Source: Josef Bayer; www.josef-bayer.de/scherbe)