Any organization comprising 90 musicians has its share of
comings and goings, and the on stage appearance of the Dallas
Symphony alters slightly every year. The position of principal
horn, however, has remained unchanged for the last 34 years. In
September, Gregory Hustis embarked on his 35th season as principal.
But this will be his final year in the Howard E. Rachofsky
Principal Horn Chair.
Over the years, Hustis has anchored a stable and stellar horn
section that is one of the orchestra's glories. How many times have
we marveled at his artistry in the heavenly slow movement of the
Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony, or enjoyed the sassy shenanigans of his
solo in Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks; or
thrilled when the DSO horns gear up for the trio section of the
scherzo in Beethoven's Eroica Symphony? Hustis's gleaming
tone and impeccable technique have been an essential component of
our orchestra's character.
Hustis joined the DSO in 1976 when Louis Lane, a protégé of
George Szell, was the orchestra's conductor. "I learned a
tremendous amount from him about balance and dynamics, especially
how loud or soft to play as principal horn," Hustis says.
During the Eduardo Mata (music director from 1977 to 1993) and
Andrew Litton (1994-2006) eras, Hustis presided over a horn section
that remained unchanged for a remarkable 23 years. "I've been
fortunate to work with some really nice people. Paul Capehart is
the only one left from the old guard."
He is deservedly proud of the alumni of his DSO horn sections.
"We have had remarkable horn players join the DSO, stay with us for
a few years, then move on to higher positions with other
orchestras," he points out. Former DSO colleagues include the
current principal horns of Detroit and Philadelphia and associate
principals of the Houston and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras.
"The DSO has always been a great environment in which to grow
musically and professionally," Hustis says.
Beginning next fall for two seasons, Hustis will assume a new
role as Principal Emeritus. "I want to do whatever I can to help
the section and the new principal horn - play a couple of years
anywhere in the section where I am needed," Hustis says. "This way,
I can spend more time thinking about the music in general and not
so much about just playing my part."
He also plans to devote more time to solo and chamber music. For
24 years, Hustis has performed at the Music in the Mountains
Festival in Durango, Colorado. Ten years ago, he took charge of the
festival's chamber music activities; in 2008 he became the
organization's artistic director. "Greg has been instrumental in
building our summer festival," declares Katherine Freiberger, a
long-time DSO patron who has served on the Durango festival board.
"In addition to being an eloquent horn player, he's done fine
programming and has integrated himself into the Durango
Hustis also has an impressive track record as a teacher, serving
as adjunct professor of horn at Southern Methodist University for
more than 25 years. Nicholas Caluori, an SMU graduate now in the
West Point Band, says that Hustis is a born teacher and an
influential role model. "Greg is a huge proponent of
self-sufficiency, encouraging students to teach themselves so that
he becomes more of a coach. He knows how to ignite talent and
ability as he helps the student move toward being a
Caluori's wife Nicole, another SMU graduate who plays principal
horn in the West Point Band, says, "Greg is really demanding, but
he's quiet about it. He wants to see and hear his students at their
full potential at all times. He has had a significant impact on
both of us."
Hustis's fellow musicians hold him in high regard. "Greg has
been a constant source of inspiration and musical leadership within
the orchestra," says John Kitzman, the DSO's principal trombone.
"His consistency of tone, phrasing, and performance of the most
challenging horn passages over a period of more than 30 years place
him in the highest echelon of horn players."
Hustis is nostalgic about the orchestra he will leave in 2014.
"One of the most difficult factors to overcome in my decision is
that Jaap van Zweden has transformed the DSO," Hustis says. "We've
always been very good, but he has made the DSO a great orchestra.
His musical integrity never wavers. He never lets up, and the end
results are often memorable."