Adolph Herseth held one of the lengthiest tenures among members of a major symphony orchestra: he served as principal trumpet for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 53 years (1948-2001)! There are entries for him in major music reference works, a distinction few musicians can claim whose performance career was mainly devoted to orchestral service. Although Herseth made relatively few recordings as a soloist, he appeared on almost all of the several hundred of the CSO's from the latter half of the 20th century. A good many of these feature substantial solo sections, such as the Georg Solti-led Handel Messiah (Decca), wherein Herseth offers distinguished work in the section "The Trumpet Shall Sound." There are numerous other examples of Herseth's artistry on record as well, including the Reiner/RCA Scheherazade, particularly in the finale, and the Reiner/RCA Pictures at an Exhibition. Herseth also performed and recorded with an offshoot of the orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Brass Ensemble. Among his more distinguished solo recordings is the Haydn Trumpet Concerto on DG, led by Claudio Abbado (reissued in 2001).
Aldolph (Bud) Herseth was born in Lake Park, MN, on July 25, 1921. His father was a bandleader. Herseth began playing trumpet at seven and a year later was playing in his father's band. Following the war, Herseth enrolled at the New Conservatory of Music and studied under Marcel Lafosse and Georges Mager, both of whom played in the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Koussevitzky. Herseth began playing with the CSO in 1948 as first trumpet. During his tenure, the brass section of the orchestra adopted the practice of using the same make of trumpet, thus producing a uniform and, many thought, better sound.
Herseth played under a distinguished group of CSO music directors: Rafael Kubelik (1950-53), Fritz Reiner (1953-1962), Jean Martinon (1963-1968), Georg Solti (1969-1991), and Daniel Barenboim (1991-2006). He also played under Carlo Maria Giulini (principal guest conductor, 1969-1972), Abbado (principal guest conductor, 1982-1985), and many other notable maestros.
Throughout his career, Herseth tended to shun teaching in the belief that it hampered his playing skills. In 1970 he was inducted into the Trumpet Hall of Fame in Denver as a charter member. Herseth retired at the end of the 2000-2001 season at the age of 80, having fashioned a reputation among his admirers and many critics as the finest orchestral trumpeter of his generation.