Robert Abernathy


Volume CVII, No. 5May, 2007

William (Billy) Brown

Usually the beginning of the new year brings many pleasant things to think about and review the past. Unfortunately, 2007 brought news of the death of French hornist Robert Abernathy. He had been an 802 member since 1940.

I was very fortunate to work on many occasions with Bobby, as I called him (although he was often referred to as Abby). We did freelance recording sessions, pickup concert performances, and occasionally Broadway musicals.

Early in my career, as an amateur in New York City, I heard about Bobby. He was an undergraduate at Juilliard and was already playing with the renowned orchestra at the summer session in Chautauqua under the baton of Albert Stoessel, a prominent conductor.

Bobby also played in the Washington National Symphony with Hans Kindler.

After serving four years in the armed forces, he returned to New York and played for several years with the NBC Radio Orchestra on the weekly Firestone Hour.

He also played at Radio City Music Hall in the late 1940’s, with section mate John Barrows, under the baton of Alexander Smallens.

Bobby became ill during our last holiday season in December and succumbed on Feb. 3 at the age of 86.

He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Doreen; sons Steve and Mark; and two grandchildren.

I will always remember Bobby as a fine musical colleague, who rarely — if ever — criticized another colleague. I know that other colleagues think the same way.