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The legendary Holger Fransman (1909–1997) was the HPO’s first Finnish horn player. His long career with the orchestra spanned over 40 years, starting as an apprentice in 1928 and actively continuing right up to 1969. From 1937 to 1966 he was principal horn. On a number of occasions he was also the orchestra’s soloist.

Fransman was known for his skill at creating a group spirit and as an ardent rehearser. In particular he stressed a good and above all homogeneous sound in his horn section. Members of the orchestra still remember him well, not least because he was in the habit of making comments and writing his initials on the horn parts. The Philharmonic still uses a vast amount of old orchestral material, and many of the horn parts bear Fransman’s comments and signature. This custom has been continued by the horn players, especially, but also by other wind players.

Fransman first studied the horn at the Helsinki Music Institute. Then in 1931, he became a pupil of Viennese Karl Stiegler. He had a distinguished career not only as an orchestral player and soloist, but also as a teacher, and is said to have trained all the Finnish horn players from the 1930s onwards, Esa-Pekka Salonen included. He was a lecturer at the Sibelius Academy 1961–1973.

Source: National Biography of Finland