Born 15 May, 1907, in Elberfeld (now Wuppertal), Sigurd Manfred Rascher was exactly one year older than Lars-Erik Larsson (b. 15 May 1908). In the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Rascher is described as a Scandinavian saxophonist of German birth[1]. In the Swedish encyclopedia Sohlmans Musiklexikon Rascher is described as an American saxophonist, born in Germany[2]. Consulting the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Rascher is described as a German born saxophonist. Nicolas Slonimsky's edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, simply says that Rascher is a German-American saxophone virtuoso.[3] In Slonimsky's Music Since 1900, Rascher is identified as a Danish saxophone virtuoso.[4] Obviously, Rascher background and identity have caused ambiguity among scholars.


After matriculating in 1930 at the Sturttgart Musikhochschule, as a clarinetist, Rascher decided to devote his life to the saxophone. He thaught saxophone in elementary schools and played in concert bands, before being appointed to teach the saxophone at the Royal Danish Conservatory, 1933-1938, and at the Conservatory in Malmö, Sweden , 1934-1938.[5] After meeting with Larsson at the ISCM festival in Florence, 1934, Rascher became a regular member among the musicians and composers in Larsson's home town of �karp, Sweden. Another significant relationship was the family Welander, where Larsson and Rascher frequently met with Waldemar and Svea Welander. Waldemar (1899-1984) and Svea (1898-1986) were both composers. Waldemar's Concertino för saxofon och Str�korkester (1966) was dedicated to Rascher. With Rascher's marriage to Ann-Marie Wig�n from Tran�s, Sweden further became a natural home for Sigurd Rascher. The marriage was a surprise to the people of Tran�s. Ann-Marie was the daughter of Wilhelm Wig�n, a well established manufacture of fur coats. At the time, it was unusual for a daughter of a well established family to marry a little known musician like Rascher, who did not have a cent in his pocket.[6] Today, among people who grew up in Tran�s during the 1930's, Ann-Marie Wigen is remembered as the person who... "took off and married some strange person.[7] But home in Larsson's hometown �karp Mr. and Mrs. Rascher found long-lasting friendship. There were many memorable evenings when Larsson, Rascher and Waldemar and Svea Welander enjoyed each other's company in �karp.[8]


Hoping for a detailed and personal description of Rascher's musical and social life in Scandinavia during the 1930s, the author wrote to Sigurd and Ann-Marie Rascher, asking for the documentation of valuable memories and experiences. Unfortunately, Rascher's illness prohibit him from further communications. Mrs. Rascher regretfully replied in a letter dated February 16, 1995.


Dear Anders Lundeg�rd,


We regret - but there is only one possible answer to your letter of Jan. 11 - too late.


I must assume that at the time of your conversations with Monica Welander and Kajsa Lund, they were aware of my husband's illness. Sigurd Rascher is the one who now is in need of assistance after a long life of giving.


You might be too young (our grandson's age) to recognize any of the names in the �karp circle of friends: the silversmith Wiven Nilsson, the painter Norrman, the music critic Sten Broman, the musicians Svea and Waldermar Welander, Lars-Erik Larsson. There were others - all top artists in their different fields. Add then all the Copenhagen friends - it was a productive time - just before the great tragedies.


with best regards,



Ann-Marie Rascher[9]


In the late 1930's Rascher moved to the United States, were he made his American d�but in 1939 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Rascher appeared the same year as soloist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Rascher was the first saxophonist to appear as a saxophone soloist in a subscription concert given by either orchestra. Performing with another 250 orchestras around the world since then, Rascher achieved a world wide reputation. Composers such as Jacques Ibert, Paul Hindemith and Darius Milhaud, have dedicated compositions to him. Rascher has recorded works by American composers such as Brandt, Creston and Heiden[10]. Among Swedish composers, other than Larsson, Erland von Koch's works appear with dedications to Rascher.[11] Compositions by Koch, such as Saxophon Concerto (1958), dedicated to Rascher, Concerto Piccolo (1962) and Monolog nr. 4 (1975), both dedicated to Rascher and his daughter Carina, have naturally amplified the development of saxophone playing and repertoire in Sweden. These pieces all generated from Larsson and Rascher's collaboration in 1934.


After emigrating to the United States in 1938, Rascher taught at various schools including the Manhattan School of Music, 1940, the University of Michigan, 1954, the Eastman School of music, 1959-65 and Union College, NY., 1968-72. Internationally known as well is the Rascher Saxophone Quartet, which Rascher founded in 1969, together with his daughter Carina and his students Bruce Wienberger and Linda Bangs. The quartet has toured intensively performing works dedicated to their ensemble.[12] Miniatyrer för saxofonkvartett, (1970), Saxofonia - Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Orchestra, (1976), Cantilena e vivo for Saxophone Quartet, (1978), all composed by Erland von Koch, were dedicated to the Rascher Saxophone Quartet[13] The quartet has also performed early chamber music transcribed by Rascher. Known for his technical excellence, and control of the altissimo register, Rascher has published saxophone methods, including Top tones for the Saxophone (1941, 3rd ed. 1977) and 158 Exercises for Saxophone (1935, 2nd. ed. 1968)[14].


Composers other than Larsson, such as Erland von Koch, have also given Rascher opportunities for displaying his skills in the altissimo register. A recording review of Koch's Saxophon-konzert, appearing in the Saxophone Journal, 1988 gives good criticism concerning Rascher's performance of such difficulties[15].


Rascher has in later years enjoyed the view from his farm in Shushan, NY. His son, Staffan, has settled next door and the fine-tasting Rascher Maple Syrup, can be purchased in the area.[16]



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[1]New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 20 v. Ed. by Stanley sadie. London: Macmillan, 1980 "Rascher, Sigurd" by George Gelles.

[2]Sohlmans Musiklexikon, 5 vl. 2nd ed. by Hans �strand. Stockholm: Sohlmans Förlag AB, 1977. "Rascher, Sigurd," by Lars Stenkvist.

[3]Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York: Schirmer Books A division of Macmillan, Inc. 1992.

[4]Nicolas Slonimsky, Music Since 1900, 5th ed. (New York: Schirmer Books, An Imprint of Macmillan Publishing Company, 1994).

[5]New Grove Dictionary of American music. Ed. By H. Wiley Hitchock and Stanley Sadie. London, Grov's Dictionaries of Music Inc. New York, N.Y.: Macmillan PressLimited, 1886. "Rascher, Sigurd," by George Gelles

[6]Interview with Monica Welander, B�stad, Sweden, 21 December 1994.

[7]Interview with Sören Reuterhage, Alvesta, Sweden, 4 January 1994.

[8]Interview with Monica Welander, B�stad, Sweden, 21 December 1994.

[9]Letter to Anders Lundeg�rd from Ann-Marie Rascher, Shushan NY., 16 February, 1995

[10] New Grove Dictionary of American music. Ed. By H. Wiley Hitchock and Stanley Sadie. London, Grov's Dictionaries of Music Inc. New York, N.Y.: Macmillan PressLimited, 1886. "Rascher, Sigurd," by George Gelles

[11]Sohlmans Musiklexikon, "Rascher, Sigurd," by Lars Stenkvist.

[12]Sohlmans Musiklexikon, "Rascher, Sigurd," by Lars Stenkvist.

[13]Brian Ayscue, " Erland von Koch and his Saxophone Concerto," The Saxophone Symposium 8 (n4 1983):14.

[14]Sohlmans Musiklexikon, "Rascher, Sigurd," by Lars Stenkvist.

[15]Joseph E. viola and Paul Wagner, "Record reviews: Erland von Koch Saxophon-Konzert", Saxophone Journal 12 (Winter 1988): 49-50.

[16]Interview with Monica Welander, B�stad, Sweden, 21 December 1994.