Report in the paper "Abend Echo", dated 25-6-1965
Mathes Reder - Conversations with Artists
He just hangs in life like a healthy apple: round, rosy, and chubby. When he puts this gleaming brass tube to his lips, his eyes begin to sparkle. He then inflates himself like the Japanese Globe-Fish, wets his lips with the tip of his tongue and begins to blow the most beautiful tunes on his trumpet. Wherever he appears (and he does get around plenty) Adolf Scherbaum is celebrated as the world’s best Bach-Trumpeter.
Nobody can play the solo part in Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto the way he does. Nobody is in demand as much as he is when baroque trumpet tunes are called for. "Scherstrong" was the nickname which Schmidt-Isserstedt, the conductor of the NDR-Radio Orchestra, gave to the little man with the lung made of steel, thus hinting towards Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz-trumpeter. What Satchmo is to jazz fans, that's what Scherbaum is to the fans of classical music. With cordial eagerness, the prominent musician invited us into his sound-proof studio. A private performance for a selected audience.
In the 17th and 18th century, trumpet concertos were very popular. The solemn, gleeful sound of the trumpet reflected the baroque abundance of life. But after the baroque age, trumpet concertos were all but nearly forgotten. Adolf Scherbaum had to dig up and assemble most of his repertoire in a painstaking manner. But that paid off. Besides Bach’s most renowned concerto, he also plays tunes from Vivaldi, Telemann, Torrelli, Stradella, Graupner, Fasch, Michael Haydn, and Leopold Mozart.
He has heaped plenty of laurels onto his head. The most recently bestowed award was given to him for the record "Masterful Trumpet Concertos" (German Gramophone 136 470). He still carries the slightly crumpled telegraphic notification in one of his suit pockets.
Adolf Scherbaum was born in 1909 at Eger (Bohemia). "When I was 8 years old", he told us, "my father confronted my brother and me with two music instruments, a clarinet and a trumpet. 'You will have to play one of them, but the choice is yours' ". Adolf, the younger boy, grabbed the trumpet without even thinking about it. And he didn’t let go to this day.
Following his music studies at Vienna, Adolf Scherbaum was engaged at the county-theater at Brünn (Czechia). He then went on to the Philharmonic Orchestras of Prague and Berlin. After world war II he taught at the music academy of Pressburg. Since 1951, he resides at Hamburg. Here he played at the Radio Symphony Orchestra of the NDR radio station and later founded his own group of baroque musicians. This ‘baroque ensemble’ accompanies him on all of his concert tours ever since.
Although he just recently returned from a tour through the USA, and from a ten-day trip to Italy, he is already preparing for the next journey. Thereafter he is going to teach at the music academy of Saarbrücken. A concert tour through Latin-America is envisioned for 1966.
Scherbaum’s precious trumpet sound, those unique fortissimo-falsettos, his mere whiff of a tender piano tone, all this didn’t simply fall into his lap from the clear, blue sky. Torrents of sweat poured down his forehead before Bach finally emerged crystal clear like a mountain well from his trumpet. In consideration for his neighbors in the Grindelallee [street] Scherbaum drives out of town every day. Only a few cows in the meadows of the vicinity are then his attentive audience. They listen to the cheerful, brilliant melodies while ruminating peacefully.
As finale, we are treated to a sample of Scherbaum’s virtuoso play. He jumps lustily all over the entire scale of tones. It’s akin to climbing on heaven’s scale, the rungs consisting of trumpet sounds. He is the leader, and similar to a baroque cherub he rises above the ordinary everyday-life. And he continues to rise, right into heaven, heading towards the music section!
I am grateful to Mr. Rolf Ziegler, Böblingen, for his translation into English.