Markus Rhoten joined the New York Philharmonic as Principal Timpani in September 2006.
My thoughts about being a timpanist
Being a timpanist in an orchestra combines the best of all worlds. You set a foundation in both rhythm and time but the distinct voice of this beautiful instrument also has in immense impact on the overall sound of the orchestra. The timpani is one of the instruments that has the largest dynamic range. This creates a huge responsibility for the player to either lead the musical phrasing dynamically or to match the dynamic according to the players around you. Many people have referred to the timpani as “the second conductor” or “the backbone of the orchestra”. Usually located at the back of the stage one of the challenges is to anticipate the beat enough to compensate for the distance. Another would be the constant change in pitch which especially for calf head players can be tricky under extreme weather conditions. I feel immensely blessed have the opportunity to life out my passion on a daily basis!
My career so far
Born in 1978 in Hanover, Germany, Mr. Rhoten attended the College of Arts in Berlin, and continued his studies as an apprentice with the National Opera Orchestra Mannheim. Subsequently, he was awarded a stipend for the Academy of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra in Munich, and in 2002 became principal timpanist of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra under Lorin Maazel. He has also worked with conductors Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Franz Welser-Möst, Valery Gergiev, Christoph von Dohnányi, and Charles Dutoit, among others. Mr. Rhoten has performed with the Hessen Radio Symphony Orchestra; Zurich Opera Orchestra; North German Radio Philharmonic; Lower Saxony State Opera Orchestra; and Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and can be heard on all of the Deutsche Grammophon recordings with the New York Philharmonic made after September 2006.
Berlin Classic model with classic Berlin style shaped, heavier bowls in eight sizes: 81-74-72-66-65-60-56-52 cm
Why I play the Hardtke Timpani
My Hardtke timpani with it’s Berlin style shaped bowl produces the exact beautiful, warm, rich, full sound I have always been striving for. In a way the Hardtke combine the dark, full sound of the Winkelmann Timpani I always loved and that special, clear and sustaining sound of the Ringer Timpani.
I play mostly Hellmut Funke and Jochen Brenner mallets. Most of these bamboo mallets have a cork core with multiple variations of materials wrapped around it over which a German felt is wrapped. I also like to use Kato and Jens-Peter Kappert flannel, leather and leather/flannel mallets. I am currently working on a signature line with Malletech which will include both bamboo shafted, German style cork core felt mallets and the bamboo shafted flannel and leather mallet.
My timpani heads
I play on calfo calf heads that I personally tuck to my liking and according to weather conditions. Generally, the lower two drums have a little bit thicker head than the higher drums, just as you would see it with the string instruments.