Photo: Erich Malter, Erlangen
|An autobiography of the composer, arranger, musical director, trombonist and teacher.|
I was born New Year's Eve 1935 in Bucharest Romania as the the only child of Harry and Clairette Herbolzheimer. My father was German, my mother was Romanian Jewish, my grandmother Russian, my grandfather Austrian, so you can say I was born as sort of a UN of my own. I spent the first 15 years of my life in Romania, had private lessons for the first part, then attended a Catholic school followed by a Lutheran school, the latter being a German minority school.
In 1950 my family moved to Nuremberg, Germany, my father's birthplace. I attended school there until the summer of 1953, when I went to the USA for one year. Due to the strange immigration laws that were based on the place of birth in those days, I succeeded in getting a visa on the quota of the World Church Council. I was already then very interested in jazz.
I stayed for about two months with an American soldier who I had met in Germany. Quite soon a conflict arose between his mother and myself. I was practically forbidden to do almost everything, and, on top of it all, she was a real Joseph McCarthy fan, always giving me a funny look, when the subject came up.
Soon afterwards I moved in with an academic family. The father was a university teacher, the mother was also a teacher and the three children (one boy, two girls) were just great. I went to high school for one year and then, a year later, I had to leave the US again since I had only a visitor’s visa.
Back in Germany again I tried everything to return to the US, this time as an immigrant. I finally succeeded, won a scholarship with General Motors as a designer and worked at the same time as a guitar teacher for the Wurlitzer company.
At Christmas of 1957, after my future wife, Gisela, failed to get a visa for the United States, I returned to Germany. In January we married and I decided to stay in Europe for many reasons. I was working for my father but got more and more involved with music. In 1961 I decided to concentrate only on music and formed my first band, a septet. We did some travelling within Germany and to Finland, Sweden, and Libya. This came to an end around 1964, when I thought I had done enough travelling, so I settled in Nuremberg with the radio band. I made very little money in those days, but I met some wonderful young musicians, among them the very young Jan Hammer and George Mraz.
The jazz scene was quite fertile in those days in Nuremberg. I became a member of the Hans Koller sextet and moved to Hamburg with the whole family in 1968 after a year with the Sender Freies Berlin Orchestra (SFB). By then I had become quite a somewhat reputable arranger. After a short intermezzo with Max Greger in Munich, and later the NDR Orchestra in Hamburg, I decided I wanted to stay a freelance musician, and have been one ever since.
In 1969 I founded the Rhythm Combination & Brass (RC&B), a formation that pretty soon became one of the leading big bands in Europe.
The German Youth Jazz Orchestra, BuJazzO (Bundes Jazz Orchester), was founded in 1987 by the German Music Council, as a Jazz Orchestra opposite to the National Youth Symphony Orchestra. I must admit that I had only a very vague idea of the existence of the German Music Council up to that point, but I liked the idea, so I accepted the offer of Musical Director. Over the following years I can say that it has developed into a unique institution in the whole world. The concept, that includes two working periods per year, combined with various concerts, is very successful, and, by now, one can say that nearly every good young player of today has gone through, or still is, in this band.
During the working periods, reputable teachers come to train the young musicians, such as Andy Haderer, John Ruocco, John Taylor, Erik van Lier and his brother Bart, Judy Niemack for the singers, Mike Richmond, Bruno Castellucci and also some teachers that once were in the Orchestra, such as Martin Wind, Jürgen Neudert, Klaus Graf, Olaf Polziehn, Frank Chastenier, Fiete Felsch, and others.
About every second year we do a tour out of Germany with the assistance
of the German Government. We have been to Portugal, USA, Southern Europe,
Holland, and South Africa. We are going to South Africa again this year
in the fall, and probably next year to India.We are also trying to record
every two or three years. (Interview of 2002)
A short history of some of Peter's achievements