May 22, 2016
by Sandy Brotman
Ted Thayer, our principal horn, came to us from 31 years with the National Symphony Orchestra, 28 of them as principal. He worked under the baton of maestros Antal Dorati, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Leonard Slatkin.
Always when I ask an Amadeus musician why a particular instrument was their choice, I am certain I will get the answer that it was an epiphany accompanied by a shaft of bright sun. Instead, Ted’s response was a variation on all of the others: “My high school band and orchestra director said he needed some horn players.” So ends my over-rich fantasy, but for Ted it was the birth of a love for horn playing and the start to a wonderful career.
He went on to study at the University of Illinois; studied at Tanglewood, where he received coaching from Boston Symphony Orchestra performers; played in the Army Band at Ft. Myer; then on to the Richmond Symphony for 12 years before coming to the NSO in 1972.
Ted says that today’s compositions give a good deal of attention to the horn. As an example, I would suggest you key in on the great “Swan Hymn” in the final movement of the Sibelius Fifth Symphony.