Vic Firth was born June 2, 1930
, in Winchester
, and was raised in Maine
. His father was a successful trumpet
player who tried to get his started on the instrument
when he was only four. As Firth realized he was not destined
for a career
as a cornetist
, he soon began to study arranging
, with additional lessons
. He became a full-time percussionist
when he started high school
, studying first with Robert Ramsdell
and later with George Lawrence Stone
, Salvy Cavicchio
and Larry White
. By the age of sixteen he was the leader of his own 18-piece big band
, playing vibes
throughout New England
After high school, Firth attended the New England Conservatory of Music. In addition to his studies in Boston, Firth made biweekly trips to Juilliard and studied with Saul Goodman.
Firth's teaching career at the New England Conservatory also began before he had graduated, first in the preparatory department, then as head of the percussion department. He has guided numerous gifted students through their education, not only at the conservatory, but also at the Berkshire Music Center, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Percussion students who have studied with Firth hold key positions throughout the world. He is hesitant to mention outstanding pupils, but he fondly recalls a class on percussion techniques for a Copland seminar that included three young conductors - Claudio Abado, Zubin Mehta and Seiji Ozawa.
Vic on the key to his success:
"I still enjoy the music as much now as I did when I started! The Symphony just performed Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, and it was as beautiful as the first time I heard it." Other keys to succeeding include an enthusiasm for life. "Mostly though," says Firth, "I've just been in the right place at the right time."