From the Archives: Queen City connections

  • A group photo form 1929 that includes most of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra musicians. Top row, from left: Howard Monger, unidentified woman, Mikhail Stolarevsky. Middle row, from left: Alex Trempenau, Vladimir Bakaleinikoff, Edgar Stillman-Kelly, Burnet C. Tuthill, A.R. McAllister, Walter Heermann. Bottom row, from left: Lillian Rouse, unidentified woman, Eugenia (“Gene’) Benedict, Sven Reher.

Cincinnati has given a lot to the world: America’s oldest baseball team and their descendants, the Big Red Machine; a final stop on the Underground Railroad, even a unique style of chili. It’s the birthplace of the actors Tyrone Power and Doris Day, director Steven Spielberg, and William Howard Taft, the only person in history to hold both the offices of Chief Justice and President of the United States.

Here at Interlochen, we have our own president with Cincinnati connections: Trey Devey assumed the office here at the start of Camp 2017, having served previously as the head of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

Devey joins a long list of Interlochen students, faculty and staff connected to the CSO, going back to the early days of the National Music Camp. In the very first Camp season, there were two campers from Cincinnati, one of whom, Sven Reher, was later nominated for a Grammy award for his recording of the Hindemith Sonata for Solo Viola, Op. 25. Sven was originally from Hamburg, Germany, where his father played violin under Nikisch and Mahler. When his father came to the United States to play for the CSO under Fritz Reiner, Sven came to the National Music Camp.

Word must have gotten around to the other members of the Symphony, because in the second Camp season several members arrived as instructors. The strings were well represented: cellist Walter Heermann, bassist Alex Trempenau and violist Vladimir Bakaleinikoff -- all of them CSO members -- were instructors during the second summer. A former member also came: Mikhail Stolarevsky. He liked it so much he taught viola every year until 1944. The current endowed chair for the World Youth Symphony Orchestra concertmaster is named in his honor as a gift from his son, Alexander.

Other influential Cincinnatians also arrived that year: William Naylor taught orchestration and composition, while Burnet C. Tuthill, whose father designed the famed acoustics of Carnegie Hall, was a guest conductor. Both gentlemen were affiliated with the The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). They must have thought highly of their experience, because in the third summer, the CCM established extension courses during the Camp season.

For 1930, even more members of the CSO arrived: first violinist Raoul Berger, Assistant Concertmaster Sigmund Culp, trumpeter Herbert Tiemeyer, flutist Ary van Leeuwen, and the woodwind brothers Andre and Albert Andraud. Andre must have caught the bug from Stolarevsky, because he too returned to teach every year until 1944. Alex Trempenau also returned, and added tuba instruction to his bass duties, while Bakaleinikoff taught an extension course in conducting.

The program book for the following year of 1931 noted that the Cincinnati Symphony had the most faculty members of any orchestra with seven, among them the newcomer Stefan Sopkin, Assistant Concertmaster of the CSO. Considering there were only 28 faculty total, the CSO had a huge influence on music instruction that year. For good measure the CCM sent Karol Liszniewski to teach piano.

In 1932, the CSO Concertmaser Emil Heermann (brother of Walter the cellist), arrived to begin a six-year run as instructor of violin. The Heermanns grew up in a remarkably musical household in Frankfurt, Germany, where their father Hugo was pals with Brahms, Saint-Saens and Grieg, who would come to their house often for visits. Perhaps their father trotted out the boys to play for their guests – no pressure!

Camp 1933 saw the usual cast of characters returning, joined by newcomers Milan Petrovitch the voice coach and Edgar Stillman-Kelley, who was Dean of Composition and Orchestration at CCM at the time. Founder Joe Maddy made a big fuss over him, calling him the “Dean of American Composers.” Stillman-Kelley loved the surroundings so much he wrote and premiered a fanfare while he was here.

A couple years later the last of the CSO members joined the faculty when Joseph Kolmschlag, the principal tubist of the CSO, arrived. Curiously, like his predecessor Trempenau, he did double-duty and taught tuba and double bass. Throughout the 1930s, the CSO was strongly represented on the music camp. Vladimir Bakaleinikoff seemed to particularly love the camp, and came every year until 1939, when he arrived with his child prodigy in tow, the boy wonder Lorin Maazel. The young maestro even conducted the National High School Orchestra at the New York World’s Fair that year. When Maazel returned in 1977, he remembered every piece he conducted.

The war years saw a gradual thinning of the ranks of CSO members on faculty, and also saw the first appearance of a young Warrant Officer by the name of Thor Johnson, who was guest conductor in 1944 and 1945. Shortly after his visits to Interlochen, Johnson became the Music Director of the CSO, following in the footsteps of Reiner and Goossens, and held that post for 11 years from 1947 to 1958. It was not long after that Thor returned to the stately pines as Director of Interlochen Arts Academy from 1964 to 1967. From 1973 to 1974, Johnson returned to Interlochen as the Orchestra Conductor for both Camp and Academy. His presence on campus is still felt today, as one of the main dormitories is named after him.

The early years of the National Music Camp and the early years of the Arts Academy were each heavily influenced by musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. We are forever grateful that they gave of their time and their talent to help educate and inspire generations of Camp and Academy students.