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mason-jonesSomeone from the Philadelphia Orchestra let me know last week of the passing of the great hornist Mason Jones. The obituary by Daniel Webster in the Philadelphia Inquirer captures the magnitude of his influence, and the International Horn Society also remembers him here. I met him only twice, but the first meeting in the Fleisher Collection was (for me) memorable.

Mr. Jones walked in one day (probably 20 years ago now), wanting to look at some score or other. He did not identify himself, but I immediately knew who he was. Well, yes: I knew, but no: not immediately. I am not always the best with names. He looked familiar, but I did not know why. I couldn’t place him, in the second or two before he spoke and while I said something like, “Oh, yes! [As if I knew exactly who he was.] May I help you?” But then he spoke.

Now, I have a recording of the Hindemith Sonata for E-flat Horn and Piano. The players are supposed to recite a poem before the last movement, and they do on this recording. So, the instant he spoke I recognized his voice from the poem. So I knew who he was, but I still couldn’t come up with his name, not for the life of me. Famous horn player…many years principal in Philadelphia…recorded that Hindemith with Glenn Gould (I’d recognize his voice, too) that I have, uh, uh, begins with…

So I nonchalantly said that I loved his recording of the Hindemith E-flat (which was true), and that I played it often (also true). He could not have been kinder or more self-effacing, something confirmed to me by the experience of many others. When he left I breathed a huge sigh…and then remembered his name.

A wonderful man, a great player and teacher, and I am told that he was good with names. May he rest in peace.

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