Frederick Hemke

Frederick Hemke

Frederick L. Hemke (born 11 July 1935 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a world renowned American saxophonist and pedagogue.


He began his formal music education in 1953 at Wisconsin State College of Milwaukee (a predecessor of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). He earned a Bachelor of Science degree there in 1958.

He earned the Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in 1962.

He earned the A.Mus.D. (doctor of musical arts) degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1975.

In September 1955 he began studies with Marcel Mule at the Paris Conservatoire National de Musique et de Declamation in Paris, France. He earned the Premier Prix there, becoming the first American saxophonist to earn this distinction.

Teaching career

Since 1962, Dr. Hemke has been the professor of saxophone at the Northwestern University School of Music in Evanston, Illinois. He currently serves as Louis and Elsie Snydacker Eckstein Professor of Music and Associate Dean of the School of Music. In this position he has taught hundreds of talented saxophonists, many who have gone on to become well known teachers in their own right. "His students teach and perform in major teaching and performing positions throughout the world." []

His students include:
*Anders Lundegard, international performer
*John Sampen, Professor of Saxophone, Bowling Green State University
*David Sanborn, international jazz performer and recording artist
*Joseph Murphy, Professor of Saxophone, Mansfield University of Pennsylvania []
*Ryo Noda
*Dr. Eric Honour, Associate Professor of Music, Director of Music Technology, University of Central Missouri
*Dr. Scott Plugge, Associate Chair of Music, Professor of Saxophone, Sam Houston State University

Other positions

He has edited a substantial collection of music for saxophone solo and ensembles, most of which is published by the Southern Music Company. He has authored many articles and educational materials.

Dr. Hemke is well known as the designer of a line of reeds which bear his name. Rico Reeds began making "Frederick L. Hemke" brand saxophone reeds in 1982.

Hemke is an artist-clinician for The Selmer Company, a well-known manufacturer of saxophones, based in Paris, France.

In 1979 Hemke was host for the Sixth World Saxophone Congress held at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.

Performing career

Hemke is an internationally acknowledged saxophone player, and he has appeared as a soloist in addition to giving master classes and lectures in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, and the Far East. He has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and many other orchestras.

He has given the premiere performances of several works for saxophone, including:
*Allan Pettersson Symphony No. 16
*James Di Pasquale's Sonata for Tenor Saxophone

Recordings and Publications

In 1975, Hemke's doctoral dissertation, "The Early History of the Saxophone", was published. It explores in depth the saxophone's history and gradual acceptance in the realm of symphonic music.

Among his solo releases are:
*"Music for Tenor Saxophone" (1975) Brewster Records
*"Simple Gifts" (2006) Saxo Records
*The American Saxophonist (2006) Saxo Records
*The American Saxophone Brewster Records
*Contemporary Music for Saxophone--Lapider Records
*"(need names of other recordings)"

He is featured on several recordings, including:
*Allan Pettersson's “Symphony No. 16” with Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (Ahronovitch) Swedish Heritage Discophile ( [] )
*“Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra of Wind Instruments” by Ross Lee Finney with the Northwestern University Wind Ensemble (John Paynter) on New World Records
*Quintet for Saxophone and String Quartet by Warren Benson with the Kronos Quartet on SRI Records
*Incantations by Ralph Shapey, University of Chicago Contemporary Players (Shapey) on Nonesuch Records
*Concerto for Saxophone and Winds by Paul Creston with the Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Ensemble on Interlochen Arts Academy Records
*Concerto for Saxophone and Wind Orchestra by Ingolf Dahl with University of Wisconsin-Madison Wind Ensemble (H. Robert Reynolds) on University of Wisconsin-Madison Records
*He has recorded with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, and the Contemporary Chamber Players.
*He appears on six recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra:
**Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky/Ravel)--Ozawa
**Suites Nos. 1 and 2 (Georges Bizet)--Jean Martinon
**Age of Gold (Dmitri Shostakovich)--Leopold Stokowski
**Bolero (Maurice Ravel)--Jean Martinon
**Bolero (Maurice Ravel)--Sir Georg Solti
**The Final Alice (Del Tredici)--Sir Georg Solti

Numerous pieces have been written for him or dedicated to him, including:
*"Music for Tenor Saxophone and Piano," written by M. William Karlins in 1969
*Allan Pettersson's “Symphony No. 16” for orchestra with bravura alto saxophone (commissioned by Hemke)

Awards and honors

*In 1956, he became the first American to be awarded the prestigious Premiere Prix du Saxophone at the Paris Conservatory.
*He received the Kappa Kappa Psi "Distinguished Service to Music Award."
*He was appointed the CHARLES DEERING McCORMICK PROFESSOR OF TEACHING EXCELLENCE at Northwestern University.
*He served as president of the North American Saxophone Alliance and was later awarded Honorary Life Membership in that organization.

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