On a Personal Note

The Lasting Luster of Vinyl

Episode Summary

French Horn Player Richard King shares his earliest memories of hearing Beethoven’s "Eroica" on the family phonograph and how the disc ended up shaping his destiny.

Episode Notes

French Horn Player Richard King shares his earliest memories of hearing Beethoven’s "Eroica" on the family phonograph and how the disc ended up shaping his destiny.

Featured Music:

BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”)

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Episode Transcription


Welcome to The Cleveland Orchestra's On a Personal Note, where every story has a soundtrack. In difficult situations or moments of sheer joy, music connects us with our humanity. Richard King joined The Cleveland Orchestra at age 20 and now has the title Principal Horn Emeritus.

Richard King:

When I was in elementary school, I started playing the French horn and my parents kind of asked around and said, "What records could we get for little Richard?" And one of the things that they brought to me was the Eroica Symphony of Beethoven, and I listened to that again and again. It happened to be one of the great recordings of that piece, which was Szell and The Cleveland Orchestra. When I just listened to that, the scherzo, here in this room on that photograph, my pulse goes up. It's a great horn part, and all horn players love to play that piece.

The first horn player in The Cleveland Orchestra from I think '55 to '77 or something like that was Myron Bloom, and he was a famous American horn player, no doubt. And I eventually became a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. When I got to Cleveland, I was very young and one of the first opportunities I had to play any big symphony was that Christophe von Dohnány wanted to hear me do something important in the orchestra, so he asked me to play. I was terrified, absolutely terrified. It went fine, but it was hard to live through the couple of days before leading up to it.

What is most important to me as a player, and this is the end of my 31st season now, is not letting my colleagues down, not be the weak link. And I think since everyone feels that way, we're all accountable to one another and that makes it incredibly inspiring to sit in the middle of all my colleagues all the time. Cleveland has an amazing audience. We're so lucky to play here for this public. It's a thrill every single time we walk onto the stage. We always talk about how Cleveland, the city of Cleveland, is a smaller-sized city in the grand scheme, in the cities of the world and the cities of the United States. And, if anything, that makes us even prouder to play here and to keep the standards so high.

The support of the community here has never failed to astound me, and I think that any subscribers,donors, I think that they can rest assured that we are going to do our absolute best artistically, that we really feel ownership of this institution, that we're really proud to be here, to play here and to represent this community all over the world. I know that's sort of a cliche to say, but we go all over the place, and we know where we're from. Even in places where they haven't heard of the City of Cleveland, they know about The Cleveland Orchestra, and we are so happy to represent, so proud to be from here.


Richard King chose Beethoven's Third Symphony, Eroica, an early connection to the music that became,for Richard, the sound of home, the sound of potential, the sound of destiny calling. If you want to listen to the Third Movement in full, you can do that in just a moment, and if you're enjoying On a Personal Note, we would love it if you would subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Consider giving us a rating and review and follow us at clevelandorchestra.com/podcast.