January 10, 2018 – Frank Kaderabach, trumpet player

Frank Kaderabach, retired principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, gave a brief account of his life as a musician. He started in high school in the 1940s, when Harry James and big bands were his idol. After high school he worked in industry, playing trumpet at night until he received a scholarship for study at the Chicago Music College.

Later he auditioned for the West Point band, where he played while a soldier, allowing him to study in New York.

At that time, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, all professional auditions were based on personal recommendations by selected teachers. Frank was able to start with the Dallas Symphony, but since this ran for only 20 weeks per year, he had to augment his income by playing in bands in Chicago in the summer and working as a substitute with circuses and other traveling groups. Even after he was hired by the Chicago Symphony, he did not have a full 52 weeks of playing.

At that time, the big 5 orchestras were considered to be Chicago, Boston, New York, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. In the atmosphere of the Cold War, with the US trying to prove that it indeed had a culture, increased funding became available for orchestras. Eventually orchestra players were able to overcome some of the arbitrary control and despotic rules by conductors, and achieve such things as pensions, probation periods, tenure, etc.


Frank played for 9 years as first trumpet in Detroit, but in 1975 his “dream come true” was being hired by the Philadelphia Orchestra. He loved the “Philadelphia sound”, so much that sometimes during a concert he would forget to count for his parts and would have to rely on colleagues to remind him where the orchestra was going. The Philadelphia sound itself was started by Leopold Stokowski, who also was interested in having as large an orchestra as possible. Because of budgetary pressure, especially in the Depression period, he wanted to have as many players on the stage as possible, proving to supporters that no one should be laid off. In part this was done by orchestrating organ pieces with sometimes even tiny parts for various instruments.

Frank loved Ormandy as a conductor and as someone who maintained the tradition of the Philadelphia sound. He also thinks that Ricardo Muti was a very skilled conductor, but someone whose rejection of the idea of the Philadelphia sound was detrimental to the orchestra itself.

At the end of the presentation, Frank played 2 solo pieces, one by the Czech composer Zdenek Fibich and one by the French Camille St. Saens.

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