International Trumpet Guild Journal Reprints from the

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International Trumpet Guild Journal Reprints from the
Reprints from the
International Trumpet Guild Journal
®
to promote communications among trumpet players around the world and to improve the artistic level of performance, teaching,
and literature associated with the trumpet
FRANK KADERABEK TALKS ABOUT
HIS BENGE TRUMPETS
BY CHUCK BYLER
January 2009 • Page 21
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FRANK KADERABEK TALKS ABOUT
HIS BENGE TRUMPETS
BY CHUCK BYLER
rank Kaderabek, retired principal trumpet of the
Philadelphia Orchestra, owns two Benge trumpets
of historical significance. Still an active solo performer with various bands and orchestras around the world,
his stellar career included work as principal trumpet with the
Dallas Symphony, assistant principal (to Adolph Herseth)
with the Chicago Symphony, and principal with the Detroit
Symphony. During the Korean War, he served as soloist with
the West Point Band. In more recent years he was the trumpet teacher at the Curtis Institute.
Being born in 1929 in a suburb of Chicago set the stage
F
for Frank Kaderabek to cross paths with any number of
musical luminaries, including legendary trumpet-maker
Elden Benge. The following interview with Kaderabek was
taped on March 3, 2004. This writer’s intent is to illuminate
the histories of two Benge trumpets: #528 and an early
Chicago-era D trumpet. The taped session began with a leading question from the interviewer, “I understand, Elden
Benge himself identified serial number 525 as the first trumpet he built?” The words that follow are those of Frank
Kaderabek.
which was a lot of money in 1943. A highly skilled worker was
Benge B-flat #528
making $100 a week at that time, so that trumpet was worth
Elden Benge was not happy with the performance of the
six weeks of skilled labor. Benge loved the French Besson, but
prototype (#525), even though it was copied from a vintage
it was quite obvious to everybody that the end of the Besson
French Besson. When I first met Benge, years ago, I asked him
family as trumpet makers was in sight. Of course, when World
what inspired him to make trumpets—because at the time he
War II came along, that shut down everything. Besson trumstarted making trumpets, he was still playing for the Chicago
Symphony. First, a little history:
Benge was from Los Angeles and
was of Belgian ancestry. From 1930 –
1934 he was first trumpet of the Detroit Symphony. At the time, Edward
Llewellyn was the first trumpet with
the Chicago Symphony. Llewellyn had
been having trouble with his teeth and
eventually had them all pulled. Back
then they didn’t have the dental techniques we have today to save teeth. As
you can imagine, the loss of his teeth
affected Llewellyn’s playing, so he was
moved to third trumpet, and Elden
Benge was brought in as principal in
1934. Llewellyn served as personnel
manager, was playing third trumpet
and assistant first, but he wasn’t doing
much assisting. Second trumpet was
Edward Masacek, who later was my
teacher in Chicago. Tragically, in 1936
Frank Kaderabek playing his Benge B-flat trumpet, #528
Llewellyn was killed in an automobile
pets were not coming into the U.S. The only way you could
accident. His wife was driving the car while he was asleep in
find one was if someone sold one already here.
the passenger seat. Somehow, she ran into the back of a truck
Benge began making horns in 1937 in the basement of his
loaded with steel beams hanging out the back. One of those
house at 1945 Morris Avenue on the north side of Chicago.
beams came right through the windshield and decapitated
The first two, number 525 and
Llewellyn. I heard most of this story
from Masacek and Benge, so it is not “Benge began making horns in 1937 526, did not turn out the way
he wanted. He made #527 for
something I am making up.
Franz Holtz, fourth trumpet of
As first trumpet of the Chicago Sym- in the basement of his house…”
the Chicago Symphony. He
phony, Benge played a French Besson
took
the
leadpipe,
main
tuning
slide, and bell off a pre-World
trumpet. Before World War II it was the standard for symWar
I
vintage
Besson
trumpet
that belonged to Edward
phonic trumpeters. When I was 14 years old, my teacher
Masacek. Benge made [or, more likely, had made] new valve
showed me his French Besson and said it was worth $600—
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
January 2009 / ITG Journal 21
Frank Kaderabek holding his Benge trumpets
22 ITG Journal / January 2009
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
back up for some of Masacek’s history. Like myself, he was of
sections that became the bodies for number 527 and 528. The
Czech ancestry. During WWI, he went into the army band at
original Besson bell was used on #527, Holtz’s trumpet. The
age 18 or 19. They made him a director of one of those 28leadpipe and main tuning slide were used to make #528 for
piece regimental bands and sent him to France. Somewhere
Masacek. The rest of #528, including the bell, was handmade
near the front line when he was entertaining the troops, he ran
by Benge. Number 528 was the first trumpet that Elden Benge
across an old Victrola and some old records in a bombed-out
made that he was really proud of. The engraving on #528 is
house. The recordings were of the famous French trumpeter
different from that on the later Chicago Benge trumpets which
Alexandre Petit. Masacek was able to memorize the solos that
have his name spelled out in musical notes. Number 528 just
he heard on those records.
says:
When the war ended and the troops came back to the U.S.,
Resno Tempered Bell
they formed an all-star band for General Pershing and toured
Made by
all over the country. Masacek was the solo cornet player for this
Elden Benge
all-star band. After the tour of the U.S., Masacek went back to
Chicago Ill
France. In Paris, Masacek played the solos of Petit, and the
How did I get Masacek’s horn, #528? In 1946, Edward
people were absolutely knocked out by his playing. They wantMasacek was shoved out of the Chicago Symphony. He had
ed him to stay in Paris, to be at the conservatory. But Masacek
played second trumpet for 25 years. Unfortunately, he was a
came back to his home in Chicago.
compulsive gambler. During WWII he didn’t keep his playing
Masacek was a student of Edward Llewellyn and was very
in really good shape. When the war ended and the guys were
devoted
to him. In 1921, Masacek got the second trumpet job
coming out of military service, people wanted their jobs back.
Masacek was the first pushed out.
Masacek was a great friend of James
Petrillo, who was the president of the
International Musician’s Union. Petrillo
got Masacek a job as a platter turner on
the radio station (platter turners back
then were governed by the musician’s
union). Edward Masacek was only 49
years old when he was pushed out of the
symphony. He received no pension,
nothing, but he was teaching privately:
three or four students who would come
to his house for lessons. He came to my
high school, Morton High in Cicero.
That high school was way ahead of its
time. They had people coming from the
Chicago Symphony to coach the high
school sections.
Masacek came to our high school to
coach the trumpet section. The band
director talked to me and suggested I go
study with Masacek. Before that time I
had some very nice guys who were my
trumpet teachers, but they were nowhere
near Masacek’s level. So I studied with
Masacek from 1946 – 1949. I usually
had my lessons in the basement of Masacek’s house. He had a Benge trumpet
kept in a beat-up old Conn case. He used
to get about two feet of water in his basement when it rained hard. The inside of
that old case really smelled awful. The
trumpet didn’t have any lacquer on it.
The amazing thing was that the horn was
made in 1937. When I saw it in 1946 it
was only nine years old, but he hadn’t
taken good care of it.
When Masacek was forced out of the
orchestra, he was very bitter about the
music business. It’s unfortunate, because
his bitterness was misdirected: it should
have been directed at himself. Let me
Shown here from both sides, Frank Kaderabek’s Benge trumpets
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
January 2009 / ITG Journal 23
And he would give the player a horn. He was rather patheticwith the Chicago Symphony. Later on, Masacek was offered
looking the way he was bent over. He would walk into a real
the job of first trumpet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and
nice nightclub with some big-name band playing, a place like
a number of other trumpet jobs because he was an extraordithe Palmer House, for instance. He’d walk right up to the
nary player, a real natural. But Masacek turned those offers
trumpet player and offer him his
down and stayed with the
Chicago Symphony be- “Elden Benge would show up at some jazz horn. Most of the guys would recognize him and say, “Hey, that’s
cause he wanted to stay
with his teacher, Edward joint down in the loop with a trumpet in Elden Benge,” and they would play
Llewellyn.
his hands and walk up to a player and his horn. Nine times out of ten,
that’s the way he sold his horns.
When I met Masacek in
In 1948 my mother had died,
1946, he was bitter about say, “Would you like to try my horn?’”
and I was living with my father,
losing his job with the Chijust the two of us. Ed Masacek took my father and me to
cago Symphony, and he wasn’t practicing. I could tell that,
Benge’s house to buy a trumpet. When we got there, Benge
because when he would pick up his trumpet once in a great
had the trumpet laid out. He sat down in his chair and played
while to show me something during a lesson, it was evident
it. I was quite knocked out. It was the third time I heard him
that he was really badly out of shape. I believe it was his gamplay, and it was just as gorgeous as the first time. I’ll never forbling sickness that kept him from being in any kind of playing
get it. He sold me that trumpet. I paid him in cash: $220. Back
shape. It was tragic because he was a great man, and he had
then there was only one model of Benge trumpet, a medium
been a great trumpet player. He spoke several languages, was a
large. The “X” models all came later in Burbank. The Chicago
gourmet cook, and he knew music. He was a fascinating man.
models were all one bore: .459". Benge walked us out on the
When I was learning the orchestral excerpts with him, or any
porch, and it was raining. He said, “See, Ed. This is going to
operatic part, Masacek knew everything that was happening
bring this boy good luck. It’s raining.” And it sure did. I had
on the stage, including what the other instruments were playwonderful luck.
ing. He was not just a trumpet jock… he had met Herbert
The beginning of the school year, I was going to the ChicaClarke, knew all those great music people. He had quite a fine
go Music College. I had been studying for three years with
reputation in his early career, but he decided to stay a second
Masacek. He kicked me out, saying, “I can’t teach you any
trumpet to Llewellyn. As long as Llewellyn was alive, he was a
more. You go study with Adolph Herseth, the first trumpet of
father figure to Masacek. He was on his finest behavior when
the Chicago Symphony. He’s the guy who can probably help
Llewellyn was around, but when Llewellyn died so tragically, I
you. I can’t help you any more.” I was pretty upset by that.
think Masacek died at the same time. After that he didn’t take
Masacek was a tough teacher, extremely gruff. If you made the
good care of his playing. He had quite a bit of money, but he
slightest mistake, he would absolutely pound lumps on you,
gambled it away. His family lived meagerly.
but I knew that he had my best interests at heart when he
In 1947 I had a buddy I was going to high school with; we
pushed me out to study with Herseth.
played in dance bands together. One day he called me up and
About a month or two later, I was at home practicing when
asked if I wanted to go along with him to see this man Benge,
the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there was Masacek.
up on the north side, who made custom trumpets. I said sure.
He was a rather tall man and looked a little like W.C. Fields,
At that time I was playing a Reynolds B-flat trumpet, and I
except he had blond hair combed straight
wasn’t unhappy with it. We went up
and I met Elden Benge for the first “ M a s a c e k wa s a t o u g h back, and he always had a cigar in his mouth.
He said, “I have something important to talk
time. When he was healthy, Elden
Benge was about 6' 2", but when I met teacher, extremely gruff. If about,” so I invited him in. “I want you to
him he was all crippled up with arth- you made the slightest mis- buy my trumpet,” he said. I had never played
his trumpet. I used to see it when he would
ritis of the spine. He would sit in a
desk chair and lean back to play the take, he would absolutely pull it out after the basement had water in it.
I used to think, What a way to take care of a
trumpet. I thought he had the most pound lumps on you…”
trumpet. He said, “I need a hundred bucks for
incredibly beautiful sound I had ever
heard from a trumpet. It was soft and refined: just gorgeous.
it. I took the trumpet to Benge and he is going to clean it up,
I was very taken with Benge. He had made a trumpet for my
give it an overhaul, and re-lacquer it for you for $25.” This was
buddy, Wally Bliss. When I heard Benge’s sound, and my
in 1949. I just happened to have $100 tucked away that I was
friend Wally let me play his trumpet, I knew that was the horn
saving—in cash, at home. So I gave him the $100. I’m sure it
I had to have. A year later, in 1948, I told my teacher Edward
went to pay off some old gambling debt, or maybe to make a
Masacek that I had been saving up my money and really wantnew bet. I hadn’t the foggiest idea how his Benge trumpet
ed to get a new Benge trumpet. Masacek said he would take
played.
me over. He called Benge and made an appointment. In those
A couple weeks later, I called Benge. He said the trumpet
days, Benge was making about two trumpets a week—in the
was finished and that I could “come on over” and pick it up. It
basement of his house. He made all the parts himself, includwas quite a long ride from where we lived on the western side
ing the bell. He didn’t have any dealers in any stores or anyof Chicago to where Benge lived on the north side. There
thing like that. The stories all over Chicago were legion about
weren’t as many expressways around then. I drove up on a Sunhow Elden Benge would show up at some jazz joint down in
day morning to get the horn—still not knowing what I had
the loop with a trumpet in his hands and walk up to a player
bought. Benge remembered me. I still had the horn I had
and say, “Would you like to try my horn? Here, try my horn.”
bought from him. He ushered me in and sat me down. He had
24 ITG Journal / January 2009
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
When he played on it, his eyes almost popped out of his head,
lacquered the horn and it was sitting there, still in the old,
and he said, “I’m going to give you $300 for this horn right
smelly Conn case. He asked if I wanted a new case, and I said,
now.” He opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out $300 in
“no.”
cash. I was making $127 a month as a staff sergeant in the
He said, “You know, Frank, I would like to buy this trumpet
army. $300 was a lot of money. I said, “Mr. Glantz, I bought
from you. This was the first really fine trumpet that I made,
this trumpet as a remembrance of
a n d I h a ve a l w a y s b e e n
proud of it. I think this horn “I realized how valuable this Benge trum- my teacher, Edward Masacek. This
is the horn that I want.” Harry
really turned out better than
many, many other horns that pet was when I went to study with Harry Glantz would never forgive me
I made.” I said, “Mr. Benge, Glantz… Glantz would never forgive that I did not sell that Benge to
him.
I bought this trumpet as a reBefore I was discharged from the
membrance of my teacher, me that I did not sell that Benge to him.”
army in 1953, I auditioned on the
Edward Masacek, who was
Benge and got the job as first trumpet with the Dallas Symthe first really great teacher I had. I would like to keep it.”
phony. To back up for a little history, when Benge left the
Benge said, “If you ever want to sell it, please call me, because
Chicago Symphony in 1939, he played on the radio for WGN
I really want that trumpet.” When I took the horn home, my
which had a staff orchestra. In 1953 he moved to Burbank,
father said, “Gee. You really gotta have two trumpets?” I said,
California, where he continued to make trumpets. Coinciden“I don’t know. I don’t even know what I bought.” So I put the
tally, in 1953 when I was discharged from the Army, I was
mouthpiece in and started to play. I realized then I had a marasked to audition for his job with WGN. However, I had
velous instrument in my hands. Everything was like butter.
already signed the contract with the Dallas Symphony. EveryThe one thing that you notice [on #528] on the ends of the
body told me I was nuts to go into the Dallas Symphony for a
leadpipe [both mouthpiece receiver and main tuning slide
20-week season for $2500 when I could have gotten Benge’s
receiver end] are the rings. When I was in the West Point Band
job for $10,000 a year. Of course, those radio station jobs were
from 1950 – 1953, they had an extremely good instrument
gone within five years.
repairman. I played solo cornet in the band, but I did all my
I played five seasons as first trumpet with the Dallas Sympracticing on the Benge. The receivers on the old French
phony. My summers were first trumpet at the Grant Park ConBesson leadpipe cracked. As I played it more and more, putcerts in Chicago. In between I would go on the road with
ting the mouthpiece in and out of that receiver, it started openWayne King and the Ringling Brothers, the Ice Capades, the
ing the crack up even more. The repairman was a tuba player
St. Louis Sinfonietta, and anybody that would have me. All
in the West Point Band. When I showed him the horn, he said,
that was done on this Benge trumpet. I played first trumpet in
“The best thing we can do with this is I’m going to make some
the orchestras on the B-flat trumpet, which today is unheard
rings and press them over the ends and close up those cracks.”
of. Everybody has to play C trumpet, but I did it on the B-flat
So that’s how these rings came to be on the ends of the leadlike the old-timers.
pipe.
In 1955 Adolph Herseth and Rudy Nashen, who were the
The leadpipe, main tuning slide, and the lower receiver for
first and second trumpets in Chicago, had their trumpets silthe tuning slide are all from a pre-WWI French Besson—
everything from the mouthpiece receiver to the third valve casing. The first-slide trigger also came off that same early French
Besson, a home-made trigger. Masacek liked triggers, and
some guy made that trigger for his French Besson.
I had this Benge trumpet with me [#528] when I was studying in New York. Unfortunately, once I started to play this
horn, there was a tremendous difference between this horn and
my other Benge. My other Benge played lovely, but it was
somehow lighter. It didn’t have the warmth in the sound.
Unfortunately, I ended up selling it. I have been sorry many
times that I did sell it, but I was a little short of money. I don’t
remember the serial number of that trumpet, but I think I still
have the receipt somewhere in my papers.
At that time I studied with two teachers. My first teacher in
New York was Nat Prager who was the second trumpet in the
New York Philharmonic. He ironically owned only two trumpets, a Bach B-flat and a French Besson B-flat. He was second
trumpet for 35 years, and he played everything on those two
B-flat trumpets.
I realized how valuable this Benge trumpet was when I went
to study with Harry Glantz, who was the first trumpet of
Toscanini’s NBC Symphony. Glantz knew Elden Benge and
played a Benge trumpet. He thought they were the greatest
trumpets made. I went for a lesson with Glantz, and he said,
“I never saw a Benge that looked like this. Let me play it.”
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
January 2009 / ITG Journal 25
Chicago in September, I went to see Herseth. I had picked up
ver-plated up at the Holton factory in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. At
an old Bach C trumpet, serial number 760, which was dreadthe time, they still had a guy at Holton who did hand burnishful. But it was the only C trumpet
ing. When I saw those trumpets, I
went to Schilke, who at the time was “That sounds like a very fine trum- I could afford at the time. I
thought I should have a C trumpet
selling Holton trumpets, and said,
“Mr. Schilke, I would really like to pet that you have, but, of course, in case I ever needed one. Of
preserve Ed Masacek’s old horn.” So you will have to play one of ours.” course, I had a contract to play
first trumpet in Dallas. What I
Schilke took the trumpet up to the
—Fritz Reiner really wanted was a D trumpet. In
Holton factory. The silver looks like
those days there were not any realfine silverware. This is all hand burly good piccolo trumpets. Anybody who was playing in a symnished, not electro-plated, as they do today. The silver has
phony would usually have a B-flat and a D trumpet. Most of
stayed on all these years. I keep it polished, but I don’t practice
the guys were not playing C trumpets very much, except for
it a great deal. The leadpipe has two patches, top and bottom.
the guys in the Boston and Chicago Symphonies. But Herseth
There’s also a patch on the top of the third slide and on the bell
told me that Schilke had a Benge D trumpet for sale. I knew
yard where the first finger of the left hand touches. Those were
Schilke, but I never studied with him. So I called him and said,
all on the trumpet when I bought it. I think Benge put these
“Mr. Schilke, I understand you have a D
patches on for Masacek to preserve the
horn, especially the leadpipe. You can “All my D/E-flat trumpets with trumpet for sale. I would like to buy a D
trumpet to take with me in case I need
see the wear on the patches from before
I had it silver-plated. Incidentally, this configuration are exact it.” Schilke said, “Oh fine. Come on up
Schilke had played in Chicago with Ed copies of this Benge.”______ to my place and get it.”
This Benge D trumpet had absolutely
Masacek and also with Elden Benge.
—Renold Schilke no lacquer on it. Schilke had made an
Those guys all knew each other and
extra set of C trumpet slides for it. The
were good friends.
bore of the horn is .460", which for a D is pretty good size. It
In 1958 I auditioned for the Chicago Symphony for Fritz
also has an E-flat main tuning slide, but since you don’t change
Reiner. One of the first things he said to me was, “That sounds
the rest of the slides, the E-flat really doesn’t play well in tune.
like a very fine trumpet that you have, but, of course, you will
However, as a D trumpet, I have never played another horn
have to play one of ours.” They owned four Bach C trumpets.
that is any better.
I have to say, this sound, the timbre of the Benge trumpet,
So I bought this Benge D trumpet from Schilke. Later, I had
somehow didn’t match with the Bachs. I did have to switch.
a Reynolds trigger put on it so I could tune the first slide. I’ve
When I needed a B-flat trumpet for anything, this was always
had this horn since 1953. When I bought it from Schilke, I
the horn I came back to… and that’s the history of Elden
was kidding him about being a Benge dealer. He said, “No. I
Benge’s trumpet number 528.
played that little D trumpet and I like it.” Schilke did a lot of
The Benge D #2983
D trumpet playing—church things and what not. He said,
At the end of July in 1953, I was discharged from the army.
“You know, that is such a good D trumpet that I took all the
I had to go play a festival in Wisconsin. When I came back to
measurements off it. One of
these days when I start making
D trumpets, that’s going to be
it.” Schilke did start to make D
trumpets, and I was playing
first trumpet at Grant Park in
Chicago with Schilke as my
third trumpet. He saw me using
the Benge D and said, “I see
you’ve still got that D trumpet.”
I said, “Oh, you better believe
it. I love it.” He said, “All my
D/E-flat trumpets with this
configuration are exact copies
of this Benge.”
Here we are today… I have
played 42 years in five different
orchestras, and this Benge D
trumpet has been played by me
in every orchestra. When I
needed a D trumpet for Rite of
Spring, or Bolero, or “ The
Trumpet Shall Sound” from
The Messiah, or Pulcinella—any
of those things, this was the D
Frank Kaderabek playing his Benge D trumpet, #2983
26 ITG Journal / January 2009
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
trumpet I used. I’ve test played every other manufacturer’s D
trumpet. This Benge D does not play like a little horn. It has
always played like a bigger horn, and it doesn’t have a squeaky
sound on the top. It has a nice big open sound. The serial
number is 2983. This horn was made somewhere around
1952. The bell has the inscription typical of the later Chicago
Benge trumpets with his name spelled out in musical notes. It
says:
Resno Tempered Bell
custom built
by
E. Benge
Chicago
Illinois
That’s the story of my two Benge trumpets.
Remembrances of Elden Benge
When I was in Dallas, I had correspondence with Elden
Benge. Of course, he sold his horns through professionals that
played in the orchestras: Louis Davidson in Cleveland, Bernie
Adelstein in the Minneapolis Orchestra—every orchestra had
a guy that was using a Benge trumpet. They were his salesmen.
He usually gave a commission of $20 or $25 if you sold a horn.
When I went to Dallas, Benge thought it would be terrific if
I would be his representative there, and I was happy to do it. I
sold one horn for him, to my second trumpet player in Dallas.
That was a poor guy who had a wife and three kids. So when
Benge sent me that $20 commission, I just turned it back over
to my second trumpet.
In 1957 when I was out in L.A., I saw Benge. In fact, we
spent a whole afternoon and evening together. I must have
played about 300 of his horns in his garage. That was at 1122
Burbank Boulevard. They were already making horns in more
of a mass-produced way. I don’t think he was making them
himself. They were good horns. No problem with that. But
that’s when he started doing the 1X, 2X, 3X, and all that. The
other bore diameters started in Burbank.
Benge was a marvelous man with a very dry sense of humor.
There was a conductor at WGN that he just despised. Benge
used to go down to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago where
they had a famous gorilla named “Bushman.” So Benge would
buy these postcards which were pictures of Bushman, and he
would send them to the conductor saying things like “I just saw
your uncle.” Or, “I just saw your father.” He’d never sign them.
When I spent that whole day with Benge in 1957, he liked
the way I played. We went inside and he said, “Now, Frank,
tell me: do you imbibe?” We started drinking martinis and got
really smashed together. Then he took me out to a pizza place,
and we each ate a whole pizza, trying to sober up.
Benge was an unbelievably interesting man. He was telling
me his whole life’s story, and it was tragic. His wife left him
with the two boys. She had poisoned the minds of those two
boys against him. Neither one of them had any interest in
making trumpets.
The boulevard where he lived was very busy. Benge would
hop in the car and back right out onto the boulevard and go.
Of course, he couldn’t turn around because his back was so
bent over. So, he would sort of luck it out and back right up.
Well, he did that once too often, and it was an awful accident.
He was killed right in front of his own house.
When he talked to me, Benge didn’t want me to go to the
Chicago Symphony. Rather, he wanted me to stay as first
trumpet in Dallas and sell his horns. I went to Chicago because
things in the Dallas Symphony were pretty bad.
Those are fond memories that I have of Elden Benge, a very
great man. His one real source of pleasure was drinking a good
glass of French wine and listening to Debussy. He loved music.
I guess I could live to be a thousand and never forget that
sound of his. It was light playing. He was not a powerful player, but his sound was just so gorgeous. You would see this poor,
crippled up guy. You would wonder how he could get that
sound. It was just a beautiful sound.
I have always honestly thought that Schilke trumpets play
like Schilke did. Bach trumpets play like Bach did. But Benge
trumpets really play like Benge did. They are lighter in sound.
You couldn’t make the screaming racket on them like you
could on a Bach or other horns. They were horns with finesse.
Even Harry Glantz talked about that. That’s why he liked the
Benge trumpets so much. He felt it was a more sensitive
sound. The only other trumpet that I’ve ever played where that
sound touched me is the Selmer Paris that I use [a C-75].
There’s something in that quality, that Selmer sound, that
reminds me of Benge. There is a little more strength to the
Selmer sound than to that of the Benge, but I think it has the
same fine quality.
About the author: Chuck Byler is a retired English teacher.
He is the co-author of Tempered Steel, the biography of
Colonel James Kasler: three-war vet, jet ace, Vietnam War
POW, and the only three-time recipient of the Air Force Cross.
Byler repairs, customizes, and enjoys playing trumpet. He
copied the measurements of Kaderabek’s Chicago Benge D
trumpet, substituted all Bach parts (except for the pinky hook
which was a knock-off of the Benge), and the resulting instrument passed muster with Kaderabek who characterized Byler’s
copy as “a good D trumpet.”
© 2009 International Trumpet Guild
January 2009 / ITG Journal 27

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