Obituary: Chicago Symphony bassist Austin Wayne Balmer, 89

Posted on: March 24, 2010

In Wednesday’s (3/24) Chicago Sun-Times, Chelsia Marcius writes, “When Austin Wayne Balmer auditioned for a spot in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra bass section, renowned director Fritz Reiner had to listen only for a moment before making his decision. ‘[Reiner said,] “That’s it, I’ve heard enough. You’re in,” ’ said Mark Milkint, a friend of Mr. Balmer who heard the story from other CSO musicians. It was the beginning of an illustrious career at CSO that spanned more than three decades and gave Mr. Balmer a chance to perform throughout the world. Mr. Balmer, 89, of Evanston, died March 15 at the Mather Pavilion in Evanston. Born in Bluffton, Ohio, in 1921, Mr. Balmer started to play the piano at 7. After the death of his mother in 1931, he lived with his brother and took up the organ and the double bass. … Joining the CSO in 1956 after a six-year stint with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., Mr. Balmer performed in a number of cities including Rome, Paris, London, Moscow, Sydney and Tokyo.”

Posted March 24, 2010