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Sad news: London horn legend is gone

We have been informed of the death of Nick Busch, principal horn of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for 35 years through the eras of Bernard Haitink, Georg Solti and Klaus Tennstedt, the last of whom was extraordinarily proud of him. He was 73.

Our sympathies are with his widow, children, family and friends.

nick busch

Judy Grahame, head of public affairs at the LPO in the Tennstedt period writes: “Tennstedt adored Nick Bush. He performed Brahms 3 at the Festival Hall-  a symphony Klaus avoided because of its quiet ending- because “no-one can play the slow movement like Mr Busch.. It is a miracle.”.  Nick was not one to fawn over conductors. I remember some difficult confrontations with Solti. But although he never expressed his feelings, it was clear that he loved Klaus. I once took the Tennstedts to Nick’s home near Cambridge – his wife, Maggie, was a fantastic cook- and Klaus asked me to take a photo of “me and this genius.” Perhaps, now, they can be reunited.”

And here’s a no-holds-barred interview Nick gave not long ago.

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  1. Alexander Hall says:

    The video clip shows Nicholas Busch with Ian Beers as second horn performing Mozart K550 with the NPO and Giulini. Busch moved from the BBC Concert Orchestra to become Principal Horn of the New Philharmonia following Alan Civil’s departure. He became principal horn with the LPO in the early 1970s.

  2. David McLaren says:

    I’m privileged to have been a violinist with the LPO during Nick’s time as Principal Horn and listening to his playing for 27 years until my own retirement in 1999. I had the pleasure of being part of all the recordings he mentions, particularly remembering our 1993 recording at Abbey Road of Lucia Popp singing Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Klaus Tennstedt conducting. I was sitting immediately in front of Lucia and Nick sat behind her. There are many magical moments in the songs, but for me, none more so than the horn solo in ‘September’ which Nick played with great artistry and beauty of sound second to none and which makes my spine tingle to this day – I’ve just listened again and feel no differently.

    He was a fine musician and great character who spoke his mind and I recall his confrontations with certain conductors, including one he didn’t mention in his interview, with Josef Krips in Zurich in 1973.

    The orchestra had travelled from Munich, arriving late, tired and hungry and were scheduled to have a seating rehearsal for that evening’s concert which was a repeat of previous performances on the tour. Most conductors, after five minutes, would’ve let the band get something to eat to recover from the journey and prepare for the concert, but not so Krips who was one of the selfish breed that rehearses unnecessarily until the very last minute, probably more for their own benefit than that of the orchestra.

    After five minutes rehearsing Nick had had enough – he stood up shouting out to Krips, who couldn’t believe his authority was being challenged, saying something similar to ‘I don’t know about you Maestro, but we’re knackered, we need something to eat and I’m not playing another note!’ As with all bullies when their bubble bursts, Krips was speechless – end of rehearsal. Bravo Nick – R.I.P.

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