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On 22 July 1997, a month before his 83rd birthday, our former first horn-player Professor Josef Veleba died in Vienna. He was a household name to many Viennese music lovers, and his chamber music playing and his teaching were also much appreciated. His former pupil and colleague Roland Horvath penned the following obituary.
To the sounds of Beethoven's "The Honour of God in Nature" and Brahms' "In the Quiet of the Night" the horn-players paid their last respects to their colleague Professor Josef Veleba on 31 July 1997. He was born in Gradlitz (Czech Republic) on 26 August 1914, was a pupil of Gottfried von Freiberg and made his debut as a stage musician in the Vienna National Opera House on 1 January 1934. On 1 January 1939 he joined the Orchestra of the National Opera, from 1 June 1940 he was a member of the Vienna Philharmonic and he played in their ranks, for many years as first horn-player, until his retirement in 1977.
After Freiberg's death Josef Veleba, who as a member of the "Vienna Octet" had played in numerous chamber music circles, took over one of the horn classes at the Vienna Academy of Music in 1962 and continued to teach until 1984. His pupils included Wolfgang Tomb"ck jun., Franz S"llner, Friedrich Pfeiffer, Roland Horvath and Hans Pizka (National Opera Munich). In addition he had an advisory role with the Ankerl firm of horn manufacturers. The autumn of Professor Veleba's life was spent in his house in Gasteil in the southerly part of Lower Austria. His quiet manner will long be remembered by his colleagues."