William Vacchiano

This post is part of a series called Know This Brass Player which features famous brass players from all over the world.

Name: William Vacchiano (1912-2005)

Instrument: Trumpet

Location: USA

Significance: William Vacchiano was a legendary trumpet player of New York Philharmonic. His humble beginnings started in Portland, Maine, his hometown, where he picked up the trumpet at age 12. Two years later he was playing with the Portland Symphony. In 1935, he joined the New York Philharmonic. Seven years later, he was appointed to principal trumpet by the conductor Bruno Walter.

As a member of the New York Philharmonic, Vacchiano played under many of the world’s great conductors including Bernstein, Toscanini, Mitropoulos, Boulez, and others. In addition to these fine conductors, he was able to perform the premiere of many great 20th Century compositions. Vacchiano rose to fame during the pioneering age of television when CBS recorded Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts. Between 1958 and 1972, weekly broadcasts would send out Vacchiano’s signature sound to countless viewers and listeners.

In addition to his performing career with the New York Philharmonic, Vacchiano also taught at the Juilliard, Mannes, and Manhattan schools of music. Regarded as one of the great trumpet teachers of the 20th Century, his list of students include legendary trumpeters Wynton Marsalis, Phil Smith, and Miles Davis. To view a more thorough list of students, click this link. Even though Vacchiano retired from the New York Philharmonic in 1973, he continued to teach into the early 2000s.

Also known as an innovator, Vacchiano helped design a line of Stork trumpet mouthpieces as well as the Alessi-Vacchiano Mutes. Vacchiano’s legacy has been well documented by a dissertation turned published book written by Brian Shook of Lamar University.

Sources consulted for this article include:

Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith is a trombonist, brass teacher, and blogger. He studied music performance at both Grace College and Carnegie Mellon University, and currently is the bass trombonist for Orchestra Iowa and the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, Jeremy started Last Row Music as an online resource of job postings and artist links for brass musicians around the world. When he is not performing or blogging, Jeremy is giving brass lessons to students throughout the country from his home in Centerburg, Ohio.