I was 15 years old and had been playing French horn for only a year when I met Mr. Princiotti. He was the director of a local youth orchestra, the Young Artists Philharmonic, and he invited me to join!
I played in the orchestra for the next three years. My high school orchestra was also excellent, and between the two orchestras I was introduced to so much great music. Mr. Princiotti promoted me to first horn after my first year -- a surprise to me. He gave me my first opportunity to play a solo in public with an orchestra when I was a senior in high school. I played the first horn concerto by Richard Strauss at a summer festival in Stamford, Connecticut. It was an outdoor festival with food and entertainment, and probably more. We played in the "Pink Tent." I have fuzzy memories of how it went, which probably means it went pretty well since I seem to have a photographic memory for mistakes!
I went on to music school and to many more musical opportunities in my life. Mr. Princiotti was a huge influence on me as a musician - a model in many ways, for a life in music. He was passionate about music as well as being a very talented and knowledgeable musician.
Salvatore Princiotti passed away last week at age 83. He had retired from conducting the Young Artists five years ago. The tributes from the hundreds of young people he taught have poured in, and while everyone acknowledges that he was a superb musician and music teacher, it is the person he was that people are highlighting over and over in their remembrances of him.
He was kind. He was truly interested in his students and let them know it. He saw the good in everyone and pointed it out. While he could certainly be firm with the orchestra, it was always clear that he loved everyone of us. A short, perpetually rumpled man, he always had time for "his kids."
A few years ago I went back to Connecticut for my high school reunion. While there, some of my fellow high school musicians organized a music reunion with several of our music teachers, all now retired. Except for Mr. Princiotti, who could not attend the reunion because he was teaching. I'm sorry I didn't get to see hi one last time, but what a wonderful life, to be able to do the thing you love, to the end.