Founder of Vic Firth, Inc., percussion stick and mallet manufacturer, Mr. Vic Firth has been a supporter of Music for All’s programs as a sponsor through Vic Firth, Inc., a donor and a clinician. The Principal Timpani Chair of the Honor Orchestra of America is endowed by Mr. Firth, an example of his desire to support young musicians and Music for All’s educational programs.
Mr. Firth’s father was a successful trumpet and cornet player who started young Vic on the instrument when he was only four. He soon began to study arranging, with additional lessons on trombone, clarinet, piano and percussion. By the time he was in high school, he had gravitated full-time to percussion. By the age of sixteen, he was actively pursuing a career as the leader of his own 18-piece big band, playing vibes and drumset throughout the New England area.
Upon graduating from high school, Mr. Firth attended the New England Conservatory of Music and made biweekly trips to Juilliard in order to study with Saul Goodman. When his teacher at the New England Conservatory retired from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and auditions were held for the position, Firth was selected for the job. At age twenty-one, Firth was the youngest member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the average age in 1952 being about fifty-five. He retired from the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2001 after a 50 year tenure as timpanist.
What began in 1960 as a basement operation out of his home making timpani mallets has now expanded, as Vic Firth, Inc., into a corporation with two plants, a main office and 150 employees to handle the manufacture and worldwide sales of over 12 million sticks a year.
Mr. Firth has taught at the New England Conservatory and has been head of the percussion department since 1950. He has also taught at Tanglewood. Percussion students who have studied with Firth hold key positions throughout the world. He also has numerous compositions and etudes and is a member of the Percussive Arts Society’s Hall of Fame.