Sam Denov, CSO percussionist and labor relations consultant, dies at 91
Obituary: Sam Denov
helped found a group to improve musicians' wages and working conditions.
looked out for his
A longtime percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as with orchestras in Pittsburgh and San Antonio, Mr. Denov was a major force in the founding of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, or ISCOM, serving at various times as chairman, vice chairman and editor of its newsletter.
And following his
retirement from the CSO
in 1985, the Des Plaines resident became a labor relations consultant, representing clients before the National Labor Relations Board
"Sam cared passionately about the welfare of professional musicians, and his contribution to improving their wages and working conditions cannot be overstated," said Tom Hall, retired CSO violinist and president of the CSO Alumni Association.
At the ICSOM annual conference in 2009, the delegates passed a resolution honoring Mr. Denov
many contributions as an early leader in the orchestra field."
was fair-minded in everything, so it stands to reason he'd feel the same way about his
own profession," said his
wife of 10 years, Lorraine.
wanted to make sure that the rights of musicians were protected, and he
knew it was important that there always be people keeping their best interests in mind."
Mr. Denov, 91, a member of the CSO's percussion section from 1954 until 1985, died Wednesday, March 4, at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, after a battle with a lung-scarring disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
"Orchestra musicians locally and nationally should remember Sam
as someone who helped make possible the benefits they enjoy today," Hall said.
Mr. Denov, the youngest of five children of Russian immigrants, grew up on the North Side, but before graduating from Lane Tech High School, he attended Tuley High School on the Northwest Side.
was growing up, his
brother would practice playing the French horn in the family's kitchen," his
"As the story goes, Sam
, when he
was just a toddler, liked to crawl under the table, where he'd sit just listening to him play."
Near the end of his
freshman year at Tuley
, the superintendent of music for Chicago Public Schools
transfer to Lane Tech
because it had a better music program to cultivate his
rarely talked about it, but he
must have been a phenom, because back then schools rarely did that sort of thing," said his
wife, who taught piano for 30 years.
"It's really to their credit that his
teachers recognized his
extraordinary talent in music."
played percussion in his
high school band and took music lessons on the weekends for 25 cents an hour.
father thought that was so expensive," his
wife said, with a laugh.
"And back then it probably was!"
During World War II, Mr. Denov served for three years as a musician in the Navy and was based in Brazil.
During the war, he
first wife, Charlotte, while the two were still in their teens.
They were married for 62 years.
She died in 2004.
After the war, Mr. Denov spent a year in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before joining the San Antonio Symphony in 1947.
Three years later, he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra but left after two years to run his own high-fidelity equipment business in Chicago.
He was invited in 1954 to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's percussion section, where he remained for more than 30 years.
He later attended Roosevelt University, earning a bachelor's degree in labor studies.
Mr. Denov was the author of three books, including two in retirement: "The Art of Playing Cymbals: A Complete Guide and Text for the Artistic Percussionist" in 1966, "Symphonic Paradox: The Misadventures of a Wayward Musician" in 2002 and "Boom and Crash Musician: A Percussive Memoir" in 2012.
He was also part of the CSO Alumni Association, serving as its first president from 1993 until 1996, as well as a board member and secretary-editor.
was preceded in death by his
son Tyrone Walls in 2014.
Mr. Denov also is survived by another son, Ernie.