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Home > Orchestra : Orchestra

 

Das Philharmonische Tagebuch

Thu, 20. September 2012

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Farewell Letter from Ian Bousfield

Dear Philharmonic audience, dear members of the Vienna Philharmonic!

Ian Bousfield

While I write these lines I find myself in the middle of preparing for and moving to Switzerland. These are difficult times for me, and I am finding it difficult to put my feelings into words.

My story with the Vienna Philharmonic began when I first heard the orchestra in March, 1986, in its other role, namely as the Vienna State Opera. I was in Vienna at the time on tour with the Halle Orchestra, and the performance of "Electra" that I heard was one of the most shockingly beautiful musical experiences I had ever had – so effortlessly poised, so engaged, and with such excitement… And I still remember so clearly how wonderfully Josef Pomberger, one of our former principal trumpets had played – he didn't just play through his instrument, he sang!

I decided at that point that if I were ever to join an orchestra outside of the United Kingdom, it would only be this one. In the intervening time I spent 12 years as principal trombone of the London Symphony Orchestra before I won the Vienna State Opera principal trombone audition in 1999. I have never once regretted the decision to come to Vienna; I have learnt so much about music, not only from the great conductors I have seen over my time here, but from my colleagues in the orchestra.

The musical highlights of my twelve years in Vienna for me are, next to other unforgettable experiences in concerts and operas, the performances of Mahler's symphonies 2 and 3 with Pierre Boulez, "Otello" at the Salzburg Festival with Riccardo Muti and Wagner and Bruckner with Christian Thielemann. I'd like to take this opportunity to also thank you, the Vienna Philharmonic audience, from the bottom of my heart: in September 2008 I played the Nino Rota Concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic and Riccardo Muti. I was more nervous than I had ever been before and thought to myself, "Who am I to get this chance?" But as soon as I saw your smiling, inviting faces, I was able to recognize the true character of the Vienna Philharmonic audience – you simply wanted to hear a good performance. With this understanding I was able to relax and just make music, and for that I really would like to thank you.

So you may be thinking, "all of these nice words – so why is he leaving this wonderful musical community?" Well, I started working as a trombonist in orchestras at the age of 18, and now, 30 years later, I have the opportunity to develop myself and grow, not only personally, but musically. I will be giving my time both to my students at the Hochschule der Künste in Bern and to developing my solo career. I am also going to try to "cross over to the enemy", as someone once said – in other words, I'm going to start studying conducting!

It has been an absolute honour to be a member of the Vienna Philharmonic. Of course there were difficult moments along with the wonderful musical experiences. To be part of the Vienna Philharmonic doesn't mean that you are employed – more so, it means that you belong to a very big family, and as we all know, there are sometimes difficult times in families! Every member wants only the best for the whole, and it's not always possible that everyone has the same opinion regarding how to go about this, which often leads to interesting discussions. But speaking for myself personally, I can only say that I was welcomed with open arms from the first day and have been supported by the orchestra ever since. I experienced straight away that my colleagues weren't interested in who you were or where you came from (except, of course, for the constant jokes about English cuisine!): the only criteria were the artistic quality you could bring to the orchestra and if you could follow on in the musical tradition of the Vienna Philharmonic. And this is something I believe is a decisive point: it must be possible for an orchestra to have a musical tradition and be allowed to keep it, and I am very thankful and completely respect that the Vienna Philharmonic want to stay the Vienna Philharmonic in their musical style and sound, which isn't to say that these two areas are constantly developing.
I have already had tears in my eyes during the last concerts I've played with the Vienna Philharmonic and I am still to a degree not ready to say goodbye to Vienna. However, in that I believe that life is about continual development, I also know that this was the step I needed to make. But Vienna, the Vienna Philharmonic Subscription Audience and my colleagues will always remain in my heart!

 

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