Barry Tuckwell, the world's most recorded French horn player, has passed away at 89

Besides being the most famous name in the field of solo horn-playing since the 1950s, Barry Tuckwell was also well-respected as a conductor, educator and author


                            Barry Tuckwell, the world's most recorded French horn player, has passed away at 89
File photo of Barry Tuckwell (Photo by Erich Auerbach/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Barry Tuckwell, AC, OBE, orchestra conductor and three-time Grammy-nominated horn player, has passed away at the age of 89.

He was renowned as the world's foremost French horn player and is reported to have made more recordings with the instrument than any other hornist in history.

Although he was born in Australia, Tuckwell spent most of his professional career in the United Kingdom and the United States. Due to his long-standing impact and services to music, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1992 and also was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1965.

Besides being the most famous name in solo horn-playing since the 1950s, Barry Tuckwell was also well-respected as a conductor, educator, and author. He was the first president of the International Horn Society and was even present at the first horn workshops.

He was also the Honorary President of the British Horn Society and a Patron of the Melbourne International Festival of Brass.

Tuckwell received many accolades during his storied career, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Sydney, the JC Williamson Award for performing excellence and the Bernard Heinze Award for outstanding contribution to music in Australia. 

The french horn section of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in performance, circa 1975. (Photo by Erich Auerbach/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Barry Tuckwell was born into a musical family in Melbourne, Australia, back in 1931. He learned organ, piano, and violin and possessed perfect pitch, which is a rare attribute to have among professional musicians.

He began to study horn at the young age of 13 with Alan Mann of the Sydney Conservatory. His progress was so quick that he joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15. By 1950, he had already publicly performed nearly every major concerto in the standard repertory.

In 1951, a 19-year-old Barry Tuckwell came to London. He played with the Buxton Spa Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Scottish National Orchestra, and in Bournemouth over the next few years.

In 1955, he became the first horn of the London Symphony Orchestra and held the position for 13 years. He was also on the board of the LSO and was their chairman for six years.

After that, Tuckwell moved on to a successful and acclaimed solo career in brass instruments by which time his prowess on the horn had been firmly established worldwide.

Barry Tuckwell (Photo by Terry Lane / Wikimedia Commons)

Barry taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London for a decade, has been an artist-in-residence at Dartmouth and Pomona College, was a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and led the Tuckwell Institute summers in the United States.

Tuckwell founded the Maryland Symphony Orchestra in 1982 and became its conductor, was chief conductor of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and has conducted many prestigious outfits like the London Symphony Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and the Queensland Orchestra.

The Barry Tuckwell Scholarship was established with the International Horn Society in 1997 to help budding horn students participate in international horn masterclasses and workshops.

Tuckwell leaves behind over 50 horn recordings and has been lauded and recognized as the world's most-beloved horn player in the latter half of the 20th Century. His impact and longstanding service to music will not be forgotten.

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