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

1969 Founding of the RHYTHM COMBINATION & BRASS (RC&B)..

1972 Double album recorded Christmas 1970 in the Domicile in Munich: My Kind of Sunshine, on MPS; Jazz East-West in Nuremberg; Berlin Jazz Days; composition of introductory music for the Munich Olympics with Dieter Reith and Jerry van Rooyen.

1973 Received the Cross of Honour and Ribbon of the Republic of Germany and a Golden Disc for the LP.

JAZZ in Monaco for a twelve-tone composition

1975/76 The RC&B chosen as Germany¹s number one big band by readers of Jazz Forum (this remained constant for many years)

1976 ZDF Jazz Gala with, among others, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Nat Adderley, Toots Thielemans, Albert Mangelsdorff,  Wolfgang Dauner and Volker Kriegel.

Jazz Gala Tour with, among others, Gary Burton, Clark Terry and Albert Mangelsdorff; Antibes Jazz Festival; the Phono Academy Artist of the Year award.

1978 Beginning of many years of cooperation with Dr Alfred Biolek in Bio's Bahnhof television series; Grosser Deutscher Schallplattenpreis (Germany's most important recording award) for the LP Touch Down.

1979 Jazz Gala Tour with Art Farmer, Chuck Findley, Tony Coe, Don Menza, Herb Geller, N.H.Ø. Pedersen; opening concert for the German/Polish Culture Weeks in Warsaw.

1980 Music for the film Das Traumhaus from Ulrich Schamoni.

1981 Beginning of the cooperation with the SWF, Baden Baden (radio and TV).

1982 Rock ‘n’ Swing Tour of Germany.

1983 Various short tours in Germany;  concerts in Brussels.

1984 Music for the TV series So Lebten Sie Alle Tage from Wolfgang Menge (WDR); German tours, among others at the Burghausen Festival with a 45-minute TV special; Peter Herbolzheimer wrote the music arrangements and conducted the WDR Cologne Big Band for the WDR - TV/radio production Harlem Story.

1987 Warsaw Jazz Jamboree; first own TV show Music Unlimited - Peter Herbolzheimer and Guests"; founding of the BuJazzO (German Youth Jazz Orchestra) under the direction of Peter Herbolzheimer.

1988 ZDF Jazz Club; recording at the Leonberg Town Hall; concert in Prague; also played at the Telestar Awards.

1989 Opening of the International Media Fair Berlin; ARD TV (German television) live from the ICC.

1990 Den Haag North Sea Festival (The Hague); appearance with Stan Getz; 20th Jubilee Tour with the Rhythm Combination & Brass and guest star Chaka Khan; double LP/CD 20 Years of the RC&B various radio and TV recordings.

1991 Tour in Portugal with BuJazzO; tour with RC&B in the new Republic States; first concert at the Leipzig Gewandhaus; production and concerts of Konstantin Wecker Classics with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra.

1992 Orchestration and conducting of the film music of Konstantin Wecker for the award-winning film Schtonk; with BuJazzO at the World Exhibition in Seville and at the Olympiade in Barcelona; live TV appearance with Al Jarreau and Eartha Kitt in SAT 1 (Satellite television); producer of one of the most successful Konstantin Wecker CDs: Uferlos.

1993 Radio and TV production, concert and a CD with the Ljubljana Radio Big Band. CD Friends and Silhouettes with guests Charlie Mariano and Dave Friedman; concert tour with RC&B, among others, in Brussels and in Holland; BujazzO Tour of the Baltic and St Petersburg.

1994 RC&B Tour of Germany and Switzerland; concert with BuJazzO in Boston; opening of the House of History in Bonn; orchestrations for Herbie Hancock with the Metropole Orchestra for the North Sea Festival.

1995 RC&B 25th Jubilee Tour with guest star Dianne Reeves.

1996  Releasing of the fabulous CD Colors Of A Band.

1997 BuJazzO Tour of South Africa, the official German representative at the Coronation Celebrations of King Letsie III of Lesotho; German Music Prize from the Music Publishers' Association; Jubilee celebrations and concert at the Cologne Philharmonic for the 10th anniversary of the BuJazzO.

1998 March 10, City of Frankfurt Music Prize Award.

1999 Concerts with the RC&B with Marlena Shaw, Dianne Reeves, Greetje Kauffeld in
Munich for the Bayerische Rundfunk; South Eastern European Tour in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Turkey, Romania,  Czechoslovakia with BuJazzO.

2000 Jazzpreis Burghausen, Düsseldorf Jazz Rally; 30 Year anniversary tour with the New York Voices.

2001 Various concerts and tours, Jazz Award in Burghausen, Bundesverdienstorden in Berlin.