| Roger Voisin
Musicians worldwide are mourning the loss of one of their best friends, former principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Roger Voisin, who died on 13th February aged 89.
Roger emigrated with his family from France to the United States in 1929 at the age of eleven so that his father, René Voisin, could accept a position with the Boston Symphony. He began his music studies in the United States with his father, as well as BSO trumpeters Marcel Lafosse and George Mager. Young Roger made quick progress with these fine teachers and mentors.
His playing caught the ear of Arthur Fiedler who put Roger to work playing fanfares to recall the audience after intermissions of Boston Esplanade Orchestra concerts. In 1935, Fiedler encouraged BSO conductor Sergei Koussevitzky to consider Roger for a position in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following an audition, Koussevitzky enthusiastically accepted Voisin into the orchestra. Roger became the youngest musician to be accepted as a member of the Boston Symphony. He was sixteen years old! Roger played in the orchestra from 1935 until his retirement from the BSO in 1973. He was principal trumpet from1950 to 1965 and frequently played principal before 1950 at the request of Mager. During his tenure in the orchestra, the BSO premiered many works now a part of the standard repertoire. These included Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Copland’s Symphony No. 3, Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphony, and many others. Numerous recordings from his time in the orchestra document his strength, musicianship, and technical virtuosity.
Voisin also made tremendous contributions as a solo recording artist. His recordings of music for trumpet and orchestra on the Unicorn and Kapp Record labels were among the first solo trumpet recordings widely available. Additional recordings made with The Brass Ensemble further expanded the recordings available to brass players and enthusiasts. These recording further attest to Voisin’s strength and virtuosity. His style of articulation, sound, and vibrato are clearly recognizable in the solo setting. The recordings were immensely popular, and have since been re-released by MCA records on a two CD set.
While his contributions to music while in the BSO were significant, many feel his greatest influence on the world of music comes from his career as a teacher. Voisin taught trumpet at New England Conservatory from 1950 to 1969 and then moved to Boston University where he was the trumpet instructor as well as Chair of Winds, Percussion, and Harp until he retired from the position in 1999 after serving almost five decades at the two schools. During his tenure at BU, he also directed the school of music’s repertoire orchestra.
As a teacher and musician, Voisin always insisted that we “serve music.” Voisin lived this mantra and was loved for it by audiences, colleagues, students, and family. There are few individuals that have touched so many. Roger was a remarkably warm and generous individual who leaves behind a legacy of friendship and musicianship.
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family:
125 A Seminary Avenue, #129
Auburndale, MA 02466
A comprehensive feature on Voisin is in preparation for the October, 2008 edition of the ITG Journal.