Franz Streitwieser and the “plus one” phenomenon
SSmith1226 last edited by
The following is an article from yesterday’s New york Times:
Franz Streitwieser, a German-born trumpeter who amassed a collection of brass instruments that encompassed centuries of music history and drew musicians from around the world to its home in a converted barn in Pennsylvania, died on Nov. 8 in a hospice in Sebring, Fla. He was 82.
The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, his son Bernhard said.
While a performer by profession — on one of the most extroverted of orchestral instruments, no less — Mr. Streitwieser had the soul of an archivist.
He took a 19th-century yellow-and-white barn in bucolic Pennsylvania and converted it into a museum to house one of the world’s largest collections of brass instruments and to serve as well as a concert space. The Streitwieser Foundation Trumpet Museum, in Pottstown, opened in 1980 and was home to approximately 1,000 items until 1995, when it found a new home in Europe.
Mr. Streitwieser (pronounced STRITE-vee-zer) sought to elevate the trumpet’s status.
“When somebody finds an old violin in the attic, they think it’s a Stradivarius and it’s valuable,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1983. “But when somebody finds an old brass instrument in the attic, they just throw it out. We want to change that.”
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In addition to its standard brass fare, including valved trumpets, French horns and trombones, the museum showcased a variety of curiosities: over-the-shoulder trumpets used in the Civil War, replicas of Bronze Age Viking trumpets, horns carved from elephant tusks. Visitors would have encountered a life-size cardboard cutout of the composer John Philip Sousa and a 12-foot-long horn carved from pine wood, made for Swiss shepherds.
Mr. Streitwieser situated the museum in Pottstown because he and his wife, Katherine, had moved there to be closer to her relatives. She was a descendant of the DuPont family, of chemical company renown, which helped support the museum.
The museum stood on a 17-acre plot called Fairway Farm (it also had a bed-and-breakfast), and it drew brass devotees from far and wide. The music historian Herbert Heyde, who later curated the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s instrument collection, spent six months cataloging the Pottstown museum’s contents in the 1990s.
But Pottstown, which is about 40 miles from Philadelphia and closer in culture to the state’s rural center, lacked strong funding for arts programs, and attendance at the museum lagged. After Ms. Streitwieser’s death in 1993, Mr. Streitwieser could not afford to keep the museum going and was forced to find a new home for his trove. Local universities expressed interest, but none had the space.
It was Austria to the rescue. Kremsegg Castle, near Linz, was establishing a government-funded musical instrument museum, and officials there knew of Mr. Streitwieser as a prominent collector. They offered to take in his holdings — and him as well, as a consultant. The collection was packed up and sent off in 1995.
Franz Xaver Streitwieser was born on Sept. 16, 1939, in Laufen, Germany, a Bavarian town just across the border from Austria. He was one of five children of Simon and Cecilia (Auer) Streitwieser, who were farmers.
As a boy, Franz visited a music store with his mother one day and felt drawn to a gleaming brass trumpet. But it was prohibitively expensive, so the shopkeeper pointed him to a tarnished, less costly trumpet toward the back of the store. He bought it, and after a teacher of his gave him a can of polish, it gleamed. It was the first of many instruments in his life.
Franz soon joined the town band and went on to Mozarteum University Salzburg in Austria, graduating in 1961 with a degree in trumpet performance.
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While at the university he met Katherine Schutt, an oboe and piano student from Wilmington, Del. Their courtship played out during the filming of “The Sound of Music” in and around Salzburg, and the couple became extras in several scenes.
Mr. Streitwieser and Ms. Schutt married in 1963. They lived mainly in Freiburg, Germany, where Mr. Streitwieser was principal trumpet of the Freiburg Philharmonic from 1965 to 1972. Traveling to the United States regularly, he spent a year in New York City studying at Juilliard. The couple had five children, one of whom, Heinrich, died in infancy.
Mr. Streitwieser began collecting brass instruments early on in Freiburg — his son Bernhard said the family home sometimes resembled a trumpet repair shop.
In 1977, Mr. Streitwieser worked with the German instrument maker Hans Gillhaus in designing a modern version of the corno da caccia, a circular horn popular in the 18th century; they called it a clarinhorn.
The family moved to Pottstown in 1978. Mr. Streitwieser played in local orchestras and in 1980 received a master’s degree in music from the University of South Dakota. With Ralph T. Dudgeon, he wrote “The Flügelhorn” (2004), a history of that member of the trumpet family.
After the death of his first wife, Mr. Streitwieser married Katharine Bright in 1994 and soon moved with her to Austria in the company of his brass collection. The couple spent half the year in an apartment in the 13th-century Kremsegg Castle, at home among their horns. The rest of the time they lived in Florida, moving for good to Lake Wales, in the central part of the state, in 2004. Mr. Streitwieser founded a brass quintet and continued to perform in local festivals.The Streitwieser collection remained at Kremsegg until the musical instrument museum closed in 2018. Much of its contents were moved to Linz Castle and Museum or other museums in Upper Austria.
In addition to his son Bernhard, Mr. Streitwieser is survived by his wife; his sons Erik and Charles; his daughter, Christiane Bunn; his stepdaughter, Henrietta Trachsel; a sister, Anna Breitkreutz Neumann; and 13 grandchildren.
Dr. Dudgeon, who also played music with Mr. Streitwieser and help catalog the brass collection, said he first heard of him in the 1970s. He had come to pick up a purchase from a Massachusetts music store and found that the shop had very few brass instruments left.
GeorgeB last edited by
Very interesting, Steve. Thanks,
I can think of about 5 different things which I would love to collect.