Kutztown resident, musical legend and veteran teacher Dr. Frank Siekmann will be honored by having his piece The Blue Mountain Concerto premiered April 29 at the PepsiCo Recital Hall at the Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
Pleased very much with the idea of having his Concerto premiered, Siekmann lovingly refers to his work as his child, “A piece is like your child. You want that child to go out into the world and be successful.”
This, however, is by no means the first time Dr. Siekmann has known success, be it in is personal or professional life. Siekmann’s story begins nearly 89 years ago when he was successful in being born to a “Saint of a woman,” as he refers to his mother, and hardworking father on Staten Island.
His mother would take him into Manhattan for window shopping around his birthday and holidays and to view the occasional movie.
“In those days, there was live music at the shows,” Siekmann explains. During one performance a young man stood up on stage with a trumpet, “When the spotlight hit him and he began to play, WOW! That’s when I knew.”
Siekmann told his mother he wanted to play trumpet and perhaps this is when he discovered her saintly nature because she purchased him a $10 trumpet to begin practicing. Believing it was just a phase, Siekmann’s mother would comfort her overworked and exhausted husband telling him, “Give it a couple of weeks, it will pass.”
Lucky for the world, Siekmann’s love for music did not pass. Rather his parents, seeing his growing talents, upgraded his $10 horn to a $35 instrument and again to a top-of-the-line trumpet, while aiding his growth with lessons from some of the best.
An audacious youth, Siekmann had a certain ear for music and would astound his teachers when able to note the slightest changes in their playing. Practicing with William Vacchiano, Principle Trumpeter with the New York Philaharmonic, Vacchiano would respond jokingly, “I didn’t get a chance to warm up,” when Siekmann could hear the one note difference Vacchiano would throw into a piece to stump the young Siekmann.
Siekmann would use his talent over the years to accomplish a great many more successes. Holding degrees in music education from NYU and an Ed.D. from Columbia University, Siekmann went on to spend his life teaching. First, at the public school level, later at the University of Vermont and finally here at Kutztown University.
Having written more than 550 pieces, his work is known and played all around the world. Perhaps most known is his Concerto for the Bass Trombone a piece which frees the lower brass from what Siekmann refers to as their “perennial stereotypes.”
Siekmann has certainly known success in his lifetime but of all he has accomplished, it is his marriage of 63 years to his beautiful wife and their three children that has been as he calls it “The greatest lottery one could win.”
After earning a Purple Heart in the Battle of Okinawa and earning his doctorates in education, Dr. Frank decided to take a much needed vacation. It was while on this fated trip he would first see from across the room during a dance a beautiful girl who would become his wife.
Using music to explain the moment, Siekmann begins to sing a piece from the movie The King and I, “Shall we dance,” he asks the girl. The song then changes, “I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night.” The story continues with Siekmann hoping for more as most young men do after meeting a beautiful girl and with the girl responding with a song of her own, “Love and marriage, love and marriage.”
The two would marry and life has been a song ever since.
For more information on Siekmann or his work visit Brelmat Music at www.brelmatmusic.com, named for his children Bruce, Ellen and Mathew.