40. ARTHUR SCHWARTZ

Opera For The Techno Wonders

A history of my horn playing and experience in air and space by Arthur Schwartz

In the 4th grade, I borrowed a single horn from my public school in New Rochelle, NY.  In 1945, I used my Bar Mitsvah gift money to buy a King double horn which I still have.  Soon, I began private lessons with Frank Gorell a retired member of the Pittsburgh and Baltimore Symphonies.  When Mr. Gorell went into business, he recommended me to William Namen, 2nd horn in the NY Philharmonic and I became his only pupil until I graduated from high school. It was a 5 year school and featured marching and concert bands, full orchestra and 3 choirs all under the direction of our fabulous music director, Harry Haigh and in all of which I participated.

Meanwhile, I had spent two full summers at the National Music Camp in Interlocken, MI.  And I was engaged by the Yonkers, NY, Symphony later to become the Westchester Philharmonic, playing with them as 4th horn during my last two years in high school. On to 6 years in engineering school at the University of Michigan which included 3 years of marching band and four years with the Ann Arbor  Philharmonic.  After a few years in post graduate and military, we settled in western Massachusetts where, for 8 years, I played professionally in the Williamstown Symphony.   In 1967, we relocated to Sunnyvale, CA, bought a piano and horn playing stopped for about 45 years.

Fast forward to February, 2010, a serious accident in Vienna, Austria, put me in a German hospital with a broken back and 5 weeks of surgery.  We got home only to encounter a massive infection requiring further hospital and therapy.  Then a fall in my home broke my leg and more surgery and care.  All this led to a failure of the German installed spinal supports and a severe loss of height.  So in  July,  2011, I underwent major surgery at Stanford, removing  the German hardware and inserting 2 bars the length of my spine held in with 28 screws  .  Recovery had been very slow because of reduced lung capacity.

Then this year, it dawned on me that playing the horn could restore my lungs. It has already begun to do so.  In January, I joined the TACOsv community orchestra (Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra).  Given the long hiatus, my horn playing is amazingly good considering I recently turned 80.   I’m taking lessons with Scott Hartman.  I recently trained under San Francisco Symphony conductor Cabrera and members on stage at Davies Symphony Hall in their “Play Out“ program.

And now I’ve been accepted as the first chair French horn in the newly formed International Space Orchestra sponsored by Ames Division of NASA at Moffett Field.  The goal is a recording of specially written video and composed music to be broadcast to outer space, the recording to take place at George Lucas’s ranch in Marin County, CA.  2012 is turning out to be an exciting time of discovery and restoration.                    

And how did I get involved in air and space.  It all began with family interests in flight.  My two brothers went through US Navy flight training but World War II ended before they got their wings.  The younger of the two, Bob, soon joined the Navy reserve and became a ground officer.  He retired, a Commander, after some 30 years.  His son, Stuart went through Naval ROTC and became a flight commander for some years flying in P-3s out of Moffett Naval Air Station. He eventually retired as a Captain.  Meanwhile my son David after failing the eye exam became a licensed pilot at age 16 and eventually became an aerobatic pilot and the owner of two small aircraft.

Finances prevented me from becoming a pilot, but aviation and space were in my blood. So in 1996 I was appointed an alternate delegate to the Sunnyvale/Mtn. View Community Action Commission studying the future of Moffett Air Field. Our report was published on June 16, 1997.  In 1995, I was accepted as a public member of the  Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board (RAB).  In 2009, I was appointed by the Sunnyvale City Council to serve as an alternate delegate to RAB taking the place of Councilman Otto Lee who was called up to active  duty.

While no longer needed to fill a City position,  I remain on the RAB as an alternate delegate.

Meanwhile, I got involved with the formation of the Air and Space West Foundation as a member of the founding Board of Directors.  It has been renamed the Air and Space Education Foundation. Because of health problems, I have resigned my voting position on the Board but remain as an ex-officio member. Our goal is the restoration of Hangar  One and other historic facilities at Moffett Airfield and establishment of a top quality STEM education facility, museum and convention center with strong emphasis on the connections between Earth, Air and Space.

International Space Orchestra’s member: Arthur  Schwartz is playing the french horn