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Dale Clevenger

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Dale Clevenger
Born(1940-07-02)July 2, 1940
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJanuary 5, 2022(2022-01-05) (aged 81)
Brescia, Italy
Instrument(s)French horn

Dale Clevenger (July 2, 1940 – January 5, 2022) was an American musician who was the Principal Horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1966 until his retirement[1] in June, 2013.[2] Before joining the CSO, he was a member of Leopold Stokowski's American Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of the Air directed by Alfred Wallenstein. He was also principal horn of the Kansas City Philharmonic.[3] Prior to his death, he taught horn at the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana University.[4]

Musical career[edit]

He started playing trumpet at age 11 and switched to horn at age 13.[2] Clevenger's father was President of the Chattanooga Opera Association, and he was exposed to live orchestral music at an early age.

He attended Chattanooga High School, commonly known as City High School, when the band program was under the leadership of A.R. Casavant, a scholar of marching band history, inventor, and innovator credited with creating Precision Drill. Clevinger's obituary relates that Casavant used to play him recordings of the Chicago Symphony during the school lunch hour.[5]

Clevenger received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, in 1962.[6][7] Clevenger considered Arnold Jacobs and Adolph Herseth, former principal brass instrumentalists of the CSO, to be his mentors.

Clevenger performed with many ensembles worldwide, including the Berlin Philharmonic (under Daniel Barenboim). He took part in many music festivals including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Florida Music Festival, Sarasota, Marrowstone Music Festival, Bellingham, Washington, and Affinis Music Festival, Japan.[8]

He won a Grammy Award for "The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli," which he recorded with members of the Chicago Symphony brass section, as well as the brass sections of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra.[3] His recording of Mozart's horn concertos was named Record of the Year in Hungary on the European label Hungaroton.[3] He also was a featured soloist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Grammy-winning Strauss Wind Concertos album, on which he plays Strauss's first horn concerto, as well as Andante for horn and piano in C major with Daniel Barenboim accompanying on piano.

In 2003, Clevenger premiered John Williams' Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, a work written for him.

In addition to performing, Clevenger was an experienced conductor. He was the Music Director of the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra from 1981 to 1995.[9] He expanded his conducting career with numerous orchestras in North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, recently leading the Orquestra Sinfonica de Castilla y Leon with Daniel Barenboim as soloist.[10]

Dale Clevenger was President of the Italian Brass Week and taught at Roosevelt University during his time in Chicago.[11] After retirement from the CSO in 2013, he also taught at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.[4]

Personal life and death[edit]

Clevenger married Alice Anne Render of Louisville, Kentucky, also a skilled hornist. The couple had two sons, Mac and Jesse. His wife died in 2011. He also had two children from his first marriage, Michael and Ami. Subsequently, he was married to Giovanna Grassi, an Italian woman, for nine years until his death. He died from complications of Waldenström's macroglobulinemia at a hospital near his residence in Brescia on January 5, 2022, at the age of 81.[12][13]

Reviews by music critics[edit]

Over the years, critics have written of his playing as being "satin smooth (1975),"[14] as having "mellow radiance and gentle flow...despite a few inconsequential fluffs (1978),"[15] and of his "pianissimo trills and daredevil octaves (1981)."[16] He has also been said to have "an unfailing sense of direction in phrasing (1983)",[17] "well drawn legato phrases" despite "regrettable lapses of intonation in the fast ornamental section (1984)"[18] and "smooth control (1991)."[19] In 2010, his horn solos received some negative reviews from music critics at The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, with the latter describing his work as "unpredictable horn solos, some firm, others faltering.[20][21][22] Flaws in a performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony on November 1, 2012, were cited in three separate reviews,[23][24] with the Chicago Sun-Times calling his performance "saddening".[25]



  1. ^ Von Rhein, John (February 19, 2013). "Dale Clevenger to leave Chicago Symphony Orchestra after 47 years". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  2. ^ a b [1] Archived March 23, 2020, at the Wayback Machine Strini, Tom "Clevenger the horn master provides tips aplenty," The Milwaukee Journal, January 16, 1983, page 7, Entertainment section. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  3. ^ a b c "Chicago Symphony Orchestra - CSO Musicians Roster - Performer Bio". Archived from the original on July 7, 2007. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Jacobs School of Music".
  5. ^ Allen, David (January 12, 2022). "Dale Clevenger, Chicago Symphony's Fearless Horn Master, Dies at 81". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  6. ^ [2] International Horn Society biography of Dale Clevenger. Retrieved March 25, 2011
  7. ^ [3] Carnegie Mellon University, "Orchestra ties." Retrieved March 25, 2011
  8. ^ Dale Clevenger
  9. ^ [4] Archived 2012-03-01 at the Wayback Machine History of the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra
  10. ^ [5] Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine Dale Clevenger: Conductor
  11. ^ "The Music Conservatory - Faculty". Archived from the original on August 8, 2008. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  12. ^ Allen, David (January 12, 2022). "Dale Clevenger, Chicago Symphony's Fearless Horn Master, Dies at 81". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  13. ^ "Dale Clevenger (1940–2022)". International Horn Society. Archived from the original on January 6, 2022. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  14. ^ [6][permanent dead link] Kenngott, Louise, "Leinsdorf puts luster into Chicagoans' opener," The Milwaukee Journal, October 14, 1975, page 3. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  15. ^ [7][permanent dead link] Goodfellow, William S., "Symphony, thunder combine for festival," The Deseret News, August 14, 1978, page 6C. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  16. ^ [8][permanent dead link] Johnson, Lawrence B., The Milwaukee Sentinel, March 3, 1981, page 10, part 1. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  17. ^ [9][permanent dead link] Strini, Tom "Players shine in brief bursts," The Milwaukee Journal, January 10, 1983. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  18. ^ [10] Fisher, Florence, "New college music festival ends with a flourish," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 18, 1984. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  19. ^ [11] Fisher, Florence "Students shine at festival," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 11, 1991, page 2E. Retrieved November 8, 2010
  20. ^ [12] von Rhein, John "Bychkov takes CSO audience on absorbing journey from darkness to light," Chicago Tribune, Mat 21, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  21. ^ [13] von Rhein, Jon, "At 85, Boulez pays brilliant homage to modern times." Chicago Tribune, January 23, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2010
  22. ^ [14] Smith, Steve, "Whole Orchestra Shines, Nurtured by a Deft Touch." The New York Times, February 1, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2010
  23. ^ "Bychkov's worthy Mahler Third marred by poor CSO brass playing - Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune.
  24. ^ "Chicago Classical Review » » Bychkov and CSO serve up a Mahler Third, raucous and sublime".
  25. ^ "CSO, Semyon Bychkov still settling in for the Mahler Third - Chicago Sun-Times". www.suntimes.com. Archived from the original on November 8, 2012.

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