Oregon Symphony


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Musician Moment

Joseph Berger

Associate Principal Horn

At this moment …

We would find Joseph in his woodshop planning his next project, a dining room table for eight, made of mahogany and western walnut. "Really good wood furniture is very expensive; I figured I could buy the tools or buy the furniture, and the tools are cheaper in the long run."

On the CD player …

Today Joseph is mixing the Beatles' Revolver, Abbey Road and James Taylor's Greatest Hits with Strauss' Four Last Songs sung by Renée Fleming. "We also have videos of William Wegman's Weimaraners called Alphabet Soup for our 15-month-old son Jake." The Bergers have a Weimaraner of their own named Max and a Cairn terrier named Coda "because he's the last dog we're going to get, at least for awhile."

In the kitchen …

Southern Italian cuisine dominates the Berger kitchen. "We like comfort food like lasagna, and it definitely has to have meat sauce." Lately Joseph and his wife, horn player Carol Williams, are tailoring their meals to Jake's palette. "He'll eat just about anything. Unlike a lot of babies he likes spicy warm food; if it's bland he'll reject it."

On the music stand …

Joseph's focus for the past several months has been Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat, which he is performing on the Jan. 9 Sundays at Two concert. Joseph puts his own spin on Mozart's dedication, which reads "to that ass, ox and fool, Leutgeb" (Mozart wrote the four horn concertos for amateur horn player and cheese merchant Ignaz Leutgeb): "We horn players are not offended by this because we know he meant it with love!"

And on the nightstand …

Joseph reads a lot of magazines and books on Craftsman-style woodcraft and architecture. "We get a magazine called American Bungalow, a quarterly devoted to Craftsman-style bungalows. We live in a 1908 bungalow ourselves, and over time we've done some restoration."

Before you left …

Joseph would show you his house with its river rock fireplace and the two Morris chairs he built, along with his hand-built piano bench. He'd also introduce you to Carol and, of course, to Jake and the dogs.

Posted December 2004
Joseph Berger

Joseph Berger has been Associate Principal Horn since 1988. Over the last 16 years he has guested as Principal Horn in Wagner's Ring Cycle with Arizona Opera and Seattle Opera's summer Wagner productions. He has also played Principal Horn at the Chautauqua Music Festival in upstate New York.

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