William Vacchiano 1912 - 2005
September 20, 2005   
Previous (newer) storyNews indexNext (older) story


William Vacchiano
William Vacchiano

William Vacchiano died on September 19, 2005. During his long and distinguished career in the New York Philharmonic, Vacchiano played under the baton of such noted conductors as Leonard Bernstein, André Kostelanetz, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, and Bruno Walter. In 1935, Vacchiano auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic on the same day, and was offered contracts with both orchestras. At the Philharmonic audition, Toscanini asked him to play a soft passage at the end of Debussy's La Mer. The maestro asked him to return several times, after short breaks, and repeat the excerpt. After the third time, Vacchiano was offered the job. When he called to tell Simone Mantia, the manager of the Metropolitan about receiving two contracts on the same day, Mantia told him, "Go with the Philharmonic; it's a better job, and God bless you."

Vacchiano is credited as being among the first to use a variety of trumpets pitched in different keys to fit the demands of the music. During his 38 years with the New York Philharmonic (7 years as assistant principal and 31 as principal) he never missed a concert in which he was scheduled to perform.

Vacchiano's affiliation with the Juilliard School began in 1931: the school was called the Institute of Musical Art at that time. He studied there with Max Schlossberg, and went on to teach at Juilliard for an astonishing 67 years (1935-2002). He also served on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music (1937-1999), and the Mannes College of Music (1937-1983). In 1995, Vacchiano estimated that he had taught more than 2,000 trumpet students. Many of these students went on to play in virtually every major orchestra in the United States.

William Vacchiano's former students include Wynton Marsalis, Gerard Schwarz, and Philip Smith. In May of 2002, the Juilliard School held an event attended by about 100 former students to honor his 90th birthday. In May of 2003, Vacchiano was awarded an Honorary Doctorate during the Juilliard School’s spring commencement. An article honoring the life and legacy of William Vacchiano is being compiled by Brian Shook, and will appear in the March, 2006 ITG Journal.

To read more about the life of William Vacchiano, please see Brian Shook's fact sheet appended below, and the Juilliard Journal story linked at the bottom of the page.

Mr Vacchiano's funeral took place on Saturday 24th September, at the Holy Family Catholic Church, Flushing, NY.


The Influence of Mr. William Vacchiano

A fact sheet compiled by Brian A. Shook

The following is a partial list of former students who studied with Mr. Vacchiano and what positions they hold/held. This list is not comprehensive – the estimated total number of students taught by Mr. Vacchiano exceeds 2,000.

New York Philharmonic

  • Morris Boltuch – former 4th trumpet
  • Carmine Fornarotto – former 2nd trumpet
  • Philip Smith – current principal
  • James Smith - former 4th trumpet
  • John Ware - former co-principal

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra

  • Joseph Alessi, Sr. – former 2nd trumpet
  • Mel Broiles – former principal
  • Frank Hosticka – associate musician
  • David Krauss – current principal
  • James Pandolfi – former 3rd trumpet


  • Stephen Chenette – Minnesota Orchestra, former principal
  • Philip Collins – Cincinnati Symphony, current principal
  • Armando Ghitalla – Boston Symphony Orchestra, former principal
  • Richard Giangiulio – Dallas Symphony Orchestra, former principal
  • Chandler Goetting - Symphony Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio, former principal
  • Don Green – Los Angeles Philharmonic, current principal
  • Mike Hipps – Minnesota Orchestra, retired
  • David Kuehn – Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, former principal
  • Manny Laureano –Minnesota Orchestra, current principal
  • Douglas Lindsay – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, current associate principal
  • Adel Sanchez – National Symphony Orchestra, assistant principal
  • Charles Schlueter – Boston Symphony Orchestra, current principal
  • Thomas Stevens – Los Angeles Philharmonic, former principal
  • Bruce Revesz – New York City Opera Orchestra, retired


  • Albert Ligotti – Athens Symphony, Georgia
  • Gerard Schwarz – Music Director, Seattle Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Gene Young

NYC Ballet

  • Ronald Anderson – former principal, currently teaching at Bennington College
  • Neil Balm – current co-principal NYC Ballet
  • Robert Haley – NYC Ballet
  • Theodore Weis – NYC Ballet and Opera, former principal


  • Neil Balm – New York City
  • Robert Karon – Los Angeles
  • Malcolm McNab – Los Angeles
  • Alan Rubin – New York City
  • Lee Soper – New York City


  • Donald Byrd
  • Mercer Ellington
  • Jonah Jones
  • Wynton Marsalis
  • Joseph Wilder

Soloists/Chamber Artists

  • Stephen Burns - soloist and Artistic Director of Fulcrum Point
  • Fred Mills - formerly with Canadian Brass, currently at University of Georgia
  • Ronald Romm – formerly with Canadian Brass, currently at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • Edward Carroll – California Institute of the Arts
  • Mario Guarneri – formerly with LA Philharmonic, currently at San Francisco Conservatory
  • Louis Ranger – University of Victoria, BC
  • Jeffrey Silberschlag – St Mary’s College of Maryland


The following is a brief highlight list of Mr. Vacchiano’s honors, awards, and accomplishments.


  • Honorary Doctorate from Juilliard (2003)
  • Earned Master’s degree in Trumpet from Manhattan School of Music (1955) - in order to show his students how important it was to have advanced degrees, he went back to school to earn his Master’s.
  • International Trumpet Guild – Highest Award of Merit – June 1984
  • New York Brass Conference for Scholarships Recognition – January 1978
  • Only trumpet player ever to win an audition for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic in the same day (1934)
  • Hired by Toscanini to join NYP
  • At the time of his retirement in 1973, he was the longest continuous principal trumpet player in America (31 years)
  • 67 years on the faculty at the Juilliard School of Music (1935-2002)
  • 62 years on the faculty at the Manhattan Schools of Music (1937-1999)
  • 46 years on the faculty at the Mannes College of Music (1937-1983)
  • Premier recording of Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony – Bruno Walter conducting
  • Recorded Stravinsky’s Petrouchka twice in one day; in the morning with the New York Philharmonic and Mitropoulos, and in the evening with a free-lance group with Stokowski
  • Recorded Nielsen Symphony No. 5 and Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings in the same day with Bernstein
  • Co-inventor of the Alessi-Vacchiano straight mute
  • Every principal or co-principal of the New York Philharmonic since 1973 has been a Vacchiano Student (John Ware, Gerard Schwarz, Louis Ranger, Philip Smith)

Method Books

  • Advanced Etudes for Trumpet, for Ear Training and Accuracy – Balquhidder
  • Bugle Calls - Tromba
  • The Art of Bel Canto (singing style) for Trumpet – Manduca Music
  • The Art of Double Tonguing – C.F. Peters
  • The Art of Solo Playing for Trumpet – Tromba
  • The Art of Triple Tonguing – C.F. Peters
  • Comprehensive Trumpet Studies – Vacchiano Press
  • Etudes for Trumpet (Orchestra Etudes and Last Etudes) – by Vassily Brandt, compiled and edited by William Vacchiano – Leonard Publishing
  • Graduate Studies for Trumpet, As Taught at the Juilliard School – Tromba
  • Improvisations Based on Nursery Rhythms and The Marine’s Hymn for Trumpet or Cornet - Manduca Music
  • Miniature Variations on “The Carnival of Venice” for Piccolo or E-flat Trumpet – C.F. Peters
  • Miniature Variations on “The Carnival of Venice” for Solo Trumpet – C.F. Peters
  • Necessary Technique for B-flat Trumpet – Manduca Music
  • Orchestral Rhythms for B-flat Trumpet – Balquhidder
  • Trumpet Routines – Charles Colin
  • Suppli-Bilities, Advanced Technical Drills for Suppleness and Agility – Vacchiano Press
  • Studies in Waltz Tempo – Vacchiano Press
  • A Study of Intervals for Trumpet – Manduca Music
  • Moving Transposition – C.F. Peters

Transcribed for Two Trumpets

  • Concerto in D Minor (BWV 1052), J.S. Bach – Charles Colin
  • Concerto in C Major (BWV 1053), J.S. Bach – Charles Colin
  • Concerto in C Major (BWV 1054), J.S. Bach - Charles Colin
  • Concerto in F Major (BWV 1055), J.S. Bach - Charles Colin
  • Concerto in A Minor (BWV 1056), J.S. Bach – Charles Colin
  • Concerto in E Minor (BWV 1058), J.S. Bach - Charles Colin

The information in this fact sheet has been compiled by Brian A. Shook. If anyone wishes to contribute to this sheet or to future publications (one of which will be a full biography), please contact:

Brian A. Shook
1600 W. La Jolla Dr.
Apt. #2102
Tempe, AZ 85282

email: brishook1@yahoo.com


Juilliard Journal Online - William Vacchiano article, vol. XVIII no. 8, May 2003

Related ITG News story:
The William Vacchiano Award in Trumpet at The Juilliard School - contributions sought

21 September: replaced preliminary obituary with more detailed text.
22 September: added Brian Shook's fact sheet
26 September: fact sheet revisions
27 November: fact sheet

Sources: The Juilliard Journal Online, Brian A Shook, ITG
© Copyright 2005 - International Trumpet Guild™ - All Rights Reserved