Werner Thärichen, legendary timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic, studied composition and conducting at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He also learned the flute and piano and was a percussionist and timpanist with the orchestras of the Hamburg State Opera and the State Opera Unter den Linden in Berlin. Thärichen was known especially for his Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, Op 34 (1954), which he performed as soloist or conducted at home and abroad. This concerto was the best known of his more than 70 works. It was written for his son Nicolai, to whom he also gave percussion lessons and who made a name for himself as a jazz pianist, composer and arranger.
I edited the Allegro Moderato movement in order to be performed with my piano accompanist as a reduction of the original orchestral score. Some of the glissando passages I still consider to be to difficult to attempt in a live performance. That interpretation also agrees with a footnote in German at the beginning of the movement.
My highly accomplished piano accompanist, Fred Friend, played the extremely difficult accompaniment part from memory.
Two versions of the Konzert für Pauken und Orchester, Op.34 are available:
one with the printed music, and one with images of famous timpani performers. Although I have performed a number of quite outstanding featured timpani music pieces over the span of my professional career – this is the only piece, that after 50 plus years, still has a recording of my performing available.
Please note special comments by Jack Bell – the performer – dear friends:
I ‘attempted’ to play the timpani part from memory and now 50 plus years later as I listen to the original recording for the first time, I am more then a little taken back to see how many times I had “bad memory attacks” and began a series of random improvisations until I finally found a place in the piano part that I could recognize and was eventually somewhat accurate again but obviously shaken up a bit. As you know, timpani in a solo setting such as this is not easily judged in terms of accuracy – in fact my ‘improvising’ probably sounded convincing to a first time listener.
Also, since Cloyd never had a chance to coach me on this performance, unless he happened to really know the concerto, he probably was only slightly aware something was out – yes – by the way, Cloyd and the entire Cleveland Orchestra Percussion Section attended my senior recital at the Oberlin Conservatory!!
They knew I would freak out if I found out they were there so they quietly set in the last row until after the standing ovation and, of course, showed up for the food at the reception!
The mind has a wondrous ability to permanently suppress such moments over the decades. So, you might enjoy looking over the music which is posted for insight and then listening to the version that contains images of famous timpanists rather then suffering through my momentary mistakes. It all sounds much better without the music detracting from my improvising!