The estimable horn soloist, chamber musician, and pedagogue Calvin Smith died suddenly of a heart attack this weekend. The obituary in the local newspaper spells out the usual biographical facts.
Calvin was one of my first “real” horn teachers. In the summers starting in junior high, I like a lot of music students in North Dakota and Manitoba made a pilgrimage for a weeklong music camp at the International Music Camp at the Peace Gardens, where Calvin was the horn teacher during band weeks.
He was great—the perfect combination of great artist and humble good guy for something like a summer camp. He was the first teacher I had who was actually a horn player, so I had lots and lots of questions for him. When I returned the second summer, I had three pages on a legal pad filled with questions for Calvin, who was incredibly patient about answering every last one of them—into my tape recorder, no less. I was such a horn geek. Poor guy.
He was the guy who taught me how to play stopped horn—I had never even heard of it before, but one of the pieces we played in honor band called for it, so I got a two-minute crash course in stopped horn in our first sectional, and that is how I learned to play stopped horn. I don’t know if anyone’s ever taught stopping more efficiently than that! So I particularly enjoyed playing the brief stopped passage in this “Kaddish” for Calvin.