Trumpet professor Todd Hastings shows off one of several vintage coronets and trumpets donated to PSU by an acclaimed musician and teacher. The collection will be on display during the 8th Annual Midwest Trumpet Festival Oct. 8-9.
“I hear David's sound in my ear each morning before I pick up my trumpet to play,” said Todd Hastings, professor of trumpet at Pittsburg State University said of his former teacher, mentor and friend.
Hastings said he hopes current and future music students at PSU will continue to learn from his former teacher through a collection of vintage coronets and trumpets that Kuehn entrusted to Hastings shortly before he died. In addition to the instruments, the collection includes Kuehn's music library and many rare pieces written for trumpet.
The instruments date from the late 1800s to the 1940s.
“One of the trumpets is the same make and model that was played by the first trumpeter of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini,” Hastings said.
Kuehn, who was first trumpet with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for nearly three decades, became Hastings' trumpet teacher when Hastings was in 10th grade.
“At my first lesson, David had me play long, sustained notes, and said to go home and practice that kind of thing,” Hastings recalled. “I didn't want anything to do with that – too boring. All I wanted to do was to play high notes and go on the road with the Maynard Ferguson Band!”
Eventually, Hastings said, he learned the value of doing things Kuehn's way. Since then, Hastings has gone on to become an accomplished musician and educator in his own right. Kuehn and Hastings went on to become fast friends. Kuehn followed Hastings' career closely and the two performed together on many occasions.
“I owe much of what I have earned professionally to David's musicianship, teaching, and human kindness,” Hastings said. “He has always been a true source of inspiration to me.”
Hastings said Kuehn's skill and artistry were unmatched.
“I don't go out on a limb when I say that Dave Kuehn was the most poetic trumpeter I have ever had the privilege of hearing live or on recordings,” Hastings said. “He had a finesse that was second to none and all the conductors he performed with sought him out. Even the great Zubin Mehta asked him to come to Italy to play as first trumpet in Florence!”
Kuehn's music is housed in PSU's Special Collections in Axe Library and some PSU students already are using the mouth pieces, mutes and music. For now, the instruments are in Hastings' office, but he hopes to find a more permanent location on campus.
Hastings clearly gets satisfaction from knowing that his students are learning from Kuehn's donation, but that's just one way that Kuehn's legacy is living on.
“His teaching and playing will go on forever through the stories and techniques that I pass on to my students here at PSU,” Hastings said.
The collection will be on display to the public and participants of the 9th Annual Midwest Trumpet Festival onSunday, Oct. 8, and Monday, Oct. 9, in the art gallery in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.
Two concerts will be held free to the public on those days. Details: www.pittstate.edu/trumpetfestival
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