The New York Philharmonic

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Markus Rhoten joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Timpani in September 2006. Prior to this appointment he was the principal timpanist of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, led by Eliahu Inbal.

Born in 1978 in Hanover, Germany, Rhoten attended the College of Arts in Berlin, and continued his studies as an apprentice with the National Opera Orchestra Mannheim. Subsequently, he was awarded a stipend for the Academy of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra in Munich, and in 2002 became principal timpanist of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra under Lorin Maazel. He has also worked with conductors Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Franz Welser-Möst, Valery Gergiev, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Charles Dutoit, among others. Rhoten has performed with the Hessen Radio Symphony Orchestra; Zurich Opera Orchestra; North German Radio Philharmonic; Lower Saxony State Opera Orchestra; and Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and can be heard on all of the Deutsche Grammophon recordings with the New York Philharmonic made after September 2006.

“I began studying percussion at age six. My dad took me to the opera house and sat me in the pit between the two timpanists. I fell in love with both the timpani and Stravinsky’s 'The Rite of Spring'.”

Q&A with Markus Rhoten

THE FACTS: Born in Hanover, Germany, to American parents. Attended the College of Arts, Berlin; apprentice with the National Opera Orchestra, Mannheim; stipend at Academy of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich. Prior to the Philhar monic: Principal timpani, Berlin Sym phony Orchestra, led by Eliahu Inbal; the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lorin Maazel. At the Philharmonic: Joined September 2006.

EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORY: My parents are musicians so I grew up hearing music every day at home. I began studying percussion at age six. My dad took me to the opera house and sat me in the pit between the two timpanists. I fell in love with the timpani — and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN? When I was 13: I got into a youth orchestra and played Holst’s The Planets. I was finally among people who thought and felt the same way I did.

WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCE? My timpani teacher, David Punto, at the College of Arts, Berlin

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? I like diving in remote islands with incredible biodiversity. I’ve dived off Micronesia, Thailand, and Borneo. I also ride my motorcycle: once in a while, I like to escape the craziness of the city.

MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS: The Russians — Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Prokofiev — and Richard Strauss and Béla Bartók, who both wrote amazing parts for the timpani

IF YOU COULD PLAY ANOTHER INSTRUMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I used to play the cello, from ages 11 to 14. I still love the piano.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY? The Miles Davis stations on Pandora and Spotify. My dad’s a trumpet player, and I love the instrument.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY: My dad retired as principal trumpet with the North German Radio Orchestra, Hanover. My mom is a professional pianist. My sister is a teacher in Singapore.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Our 2008 concert in Pyong yang was very moving. By the time we played the folk song Arirang, there were tears in the audience members’ eyes. It was also special playing Magnus Lindberg’s Kraft at the Volkswagen Transparent Factory in Dresden last season. And I felt proud to be part of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre in 2010; it was a huge undertaking but a big success.

As of September 2013
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