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Birthday celebration at the town-hall of Sulzbach-Rosenberg
on the 21st of November 1999

Report published in the Sulzbach-Rosenberg journal on Nov. 21, 1999

Homage to world-renowned star
Professor Adolf Scherbaum
on the occasion of his 90th birthday
Ceremony, Exhibition, and Concert in Residential City

Sulzbach-Rosenberg (Im). Do angels love Baroque music? They obviously do! This was proven by the blue sky which turned out already at the dawn of "Scherbaum's Sunday", which was celebrated in the old residential city. By means of a special celebration, an exhibition, and a concert, Sulzbach-Rosenberg was honoring not just any world-renowned musician on the occasion of his 90th anniversary. The focal point of attention was the most famous German trumpeter of the 20th century: Professor Adolf Scherbaum (born on August 23. 1909).

More than 50 prominent guests had congregated in the grand auditorium of the historical town-hall. Unfortunately, the person being honored could not attend, because of his severe health condition.

The first mayor , Mr. Gerd Geismann, welcomes one of the most well-loved guests among the many celebrities , Mrs. Elfriede Scherbaum, the wife of the honored Bach-trumpeter.

A Baroque-trio, consisting of Matthias Schäfer (once Scherbaum's youngest pupil) on the piccolo-trumpet, assisted by Ruth Kern and Stephanie Rösch (on the Continuo-Harpsichord and Cello, respectively) started off with a temperamental overture and provided melodic guidance throughout the entire celebration.

1st Mayor Gerd Geismann welcomed the many prominent guests, among them the official speaker Dr.Wolfgang Graetschel (former director of the Nuremberg Conservatory), the honored person's wife Mrs. Elfriede Scherbaum M.D., various representatives of public life, as well as four former Scherbaum-pupils, including Josef Bayer from Amberg, member of the municipal council, who was the initiator and driving force of the celebration.

"A warm-hearted person"

Mr. Geismann emphasized that they were about to honor not only one of the great stars of the world, but a "warm-hearted person who enkindled an agreeable atmosphere of friendship wherever he appeared".

Dr. Wolfgang Graetschel confirmed this picture in his impressive speech, because he himself had got to know this trumpeter as being "an exceptional artist with an amiable personality".

The official speaker , Dr. Wolgang Graetschel, outlined the honored person's life and his artistic carrier by recalling the concert tours that led him around the globe.

"Witty and always in a good mood", that's what Scherbaum was like. But he always took his teaching job quire seriously. The speaker recalled the unusual path of Scherbaum's life by describing the most important stations, beginning with his childhood in Czechoslovakia and passing over to his time in the military band, his time in the Moravian orchestra up to 1939, then his time with the German Philharmonic Orchestra at Prague in 1940, which led straight to the best German orchestra of that time, the Berlin-Philharmonic under Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Following the Nazi-period, the war, and the "apocalypse in Berlin" Scherbaum still remained in Germany for a short while, but then returned to Czechoslovakia by bicycle in search of his family. He was first jailed, then made a professor at the local conservatory of music before he came back to Germany, joining the Hamburg radio station.

That was when he experimented with an innovative blowing technique which was supposed to require less force to reach the "brilliant high notes". There were times when "trumpet playing and Scherbaum were synonyms", as the speaker put it.

Dr. Graetschel then presented to the fascinated audience a trumpet which was badly damaged by a car accident, and told them that this was the instrument on which Scherbaum played the 2nd Brandenburg concerto which hitherto was deemed impossible to play. It was the instrument which, in a way, laid the foundation to Scherbaum's world fame. He also showed them a travel itinerary in which Scherbaum had noted down hundreds of concerts and cities all over the globe.

The speaker further eluded to the fact that Scherbaum never dominated his fellow -musicians, on the contrary, his aim was always to serve within the ensemble. The speaker ended with the words: "Adolf Scherbaum has contributed significantly to the development of music and has brought joy to countless people."

The former Dean, Dr. Karl Putz then addressed the audience in the expected, very personal, warm-hearted manner that is so characteristic for his speeches. He dwelled on the artist's personality which is concentrated around two poles, the link to tradition and at the same time the openness towards progress. He pointed out that several coincidences, such as their common place of birth, common years spent at the mundane city of Prague, and other events more, created a band between himself and Adolf Scherbaum.

" Hailed all over the world, yet attached to his home town"

Last but not least, the speaker emphasized the glorious role of Oswald Heimbucher who was the person that enticed Adolf Scherbaum to serve on the teaching staff of the municipal music school.

At this point Elisabeth Vogl, M.A., the scientific director of the municipal museum, took over and led the audience through further stations of Scherbaum's life, skillfully assisted by Josef Bayer.

Vogl explained the tremendously broad scope of the museum which currently not only displayed a large bible exhibition that had caught the attention of a large population far exceeding the local area, but also showed a special exhibition on behalf of Adolf Scherbaum, plus an exhibition of paintings by Bauer which were shown at Neustadt.

In a highly entertaining manner that created curiosity and suspense, Josef Bayer showed and explained artifacts ranging from the 'silver trumpet' to the various medals, among them the 'Albert Schweitzer Prize for Peace', a prize which up till then only five other persons had received. Among these were persons with such famous names as Martin Niemöller and Pablo Picasso.

Josef Bayer, a former Scherbaum pupil, places the famous 'silver trumpet' into one of the museum's show cases. (All photos by Huber)

I am grateful to Mr. Rolf Ziegler, Böblingen, for his translation into English.