Jeff Bradetich, President
*Biography from the program for his 60th Birthday Concert at Carnegie Hall in Nov. 2017
Written by: Jamila Javadova-Spitzberg
From North to South America, from Europe to Asia he is known as an outstanding double bass player and a highly sought-after pedagogue. He has performed countless numbers of concerts, recorded six solo albums, has been featured on radio and television programs on CBS, CNN, BBC and NPR and was proclaimed “the master of his instrument” by The New York Times. He is the author of hundreds of transcriptions for the double bass and a book entitled Double Bass: The Ultimate Challenge. He served as Executive Director of the International Society of Bassists as well as editor of its magazine. He is also the founder of the Bradetich Foundation and its International Double Bass Solo Competition, a prestigious contest attracting exceptional performers from all over the world. This is Jeff Bradetich, the tall and slender maître of the double bass whose musical career runs at fortissimo at sixty years of age and who enjoys the ultimate success of his hard work that was set forth five decades ago at the age of ten.
Why Double bass? The Influences
Happy accidents are real gifts, and they can open doors to a future. It happened to ten-year-old Jeff Bradetich when a local music teacher from Eugene, Oregon, demonstrated string instruments and then encouraged students to play on them. There in Eugene, Jeff was led to discover the double bass, which turned into a life-long purpose. Dr. Robert Hladky, a cello professor at the University of Oregon, became the first instructor to teach Jeff many advanced techniques that applied to the bass and were unknown or unpracticed in the bass world at that time. He was challenged with cello pieces that went well beyond standards of the double bass repertoire. Years later, hearing Hladky’s warm and lush tone projection on one of world’s greatest David Tecchler (c. 1666–c. 1747) cellos proved for those “cello lessons on bass” to be quintessential for Bradetich.
An intelligible interpretation of a musical composition requires knowledge and understanding of stylistic as well as technical aspects of the performed piece. An awareness of these aspects helps with decoding the idea behind the piece and delivery of it in a truthful and authentic manner. Performance of J. S. Bach’s (1685-1750) music, in particular, was in need of such decrypted and precise delivery. For ten summer seasons, Jeff Bradetich had an opportunity to learn these details from Helmuth Rilling, one of the world’s celebrated interpreters of Bach’s music. Mr. Rilling served as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival between 1970-2013 and played a significant role in delivering secrets of the Leipzig master’s music to an emerging young musician.
Another important milestone for Jeff Bradetich in 1977 was a three-week summer master class in Victoria, British Columbia with virtuoso double bass player Gary Karr. Karr's innovative vision on solo double bass performance was transformational and helped to unleash new perspectives. These breakthrough concepts became core to Bradetich’s career as a solo performer and as a teacher. Forty years later they continue to be implemented and delivered to listeners and students on all occasions, in class and on stage.
A final step toward becoming an exceptionally mature performer and pedagogue came when nineteen-year-old Bradetich joined the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra. At the Opera, he often was exposed to alluring singing where he heard elegance and evenness of tone, smooth phrasing, and skillful execution of highly florid passages, all traits of the Seventeenth Century Italian bel canto – beautiful singing style. To modern listeners, bel canto is associated with the voices of the venerable vocal giants Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras who sang on the stage of the Chicago Lyric Opera. As a remarkable young soloist searching for perfection, Jeff learned from these experiences and reached his ultimate goal of “beautiful singing” on double bass using color, nuance, and brilliance. “A discovery of what bass does the best comes to you only when you learn to sing on it,” says Bradetich.
Love for Music and Endurance in his Blood
Born February 3, 1957, in Eugene, Oregon, Jeff Bradetich grew up in a musical and sports-filled household. His grandmother and mother, were both singers, and his father was a coach of all sports. Music and sports were two important elements of his upbringing. Singing in a children’s choir, listening to Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah oratorio and playing basketball – he experienced them all. Both worlds came to be essential in teaching life-long lessons and had a lasting effect as they helped Bradetich develop a strong character, endurance, discipline and passion for hard work. Love for music prevailed, and the guidance from the school orchestra program directors became critical in determining his professional path. At the age of 16 Bradetich gave his professional concerto debut and as noted earlier, at 19 joined the orchestra of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees were earned from Northwestern University, where Bradetich majored in bass performance under the tutelage of Chicago Symphony bassists Warren Benfield and Joseph Guastafeste.
In 1982, at the age of 25, Bradetich gave his New York debut in Carnegie Recital Hall (currently the Weill Recital Hall). A true milestone, this event set the pace for his brilliant solo performing career and opened the door for over 600 concert programs, including one at the renowned Wigmore Hall in London, one of the world’s great concert halls for chamber and instrumental music. Jeff Bradetich’s return to Carnegie Hall in New York for the celebration of his 60th Birthday isn’t random. This is the performer’s way to show an appreciation and bond to the famed hall and his loving audience that inspired and enhanced his performance career thirty-five years ago.
The “Bradetich school”
As a celebrated pedagogue Jeff Bradetich is in high demand worldwide. Currently, he leads the largest double bass program based at the College of Music of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Prior to this appointment in 1994, Bradetich taught on the faculties of Interlochen Arts Academy (1980-1983), University of Michigan (1980-1983), and Northwestern University (1983-1994). He has also been a visiting professor at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Northwestern University. For the last twenty-five years, he has been leading the University of North Texas summer master classes, the longest running classes of their kind in the nation. Under his direction and influence, many other double-bass workshops have been established and have flourished. Among them are the Mittenwald, Germany International Master Classes, the Hong Kong Bass Camp, Pirastro Strings Elite Soloists, Texas Bass Symposiums, and the Hammond Ashley Memorial Workshops, just to name a few. During his thirty-five-year teaching career, Bradetich has formed a whole generation of new artists and educators. Today, graduates of the “Bradetich school” are employed and perform in major orchestras such as Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Singapore Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Denmark, National Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, and Dallas Symphony. His students occupy important teaching and leadership positions throughout many higher educational institutions globally.
Well beyond classroom teaching
A passionate musician, Bradetich continuously looks for new ways, ideas, and actions for delivering his “double bass vision and message,” which goes well beyond classroom teaching. Released in 2009, Double Bass: The Ultimate Challenge is one of the ne plus ultra books on double bass playing. The book is a result of his years of teaching and performance, which focus on methods, techniques, and principles of double bass playing. Yet another huge accomplishment, the foundation carrying Bradetich’s name was established in 2008 and marks the zenith of the musician’s professional experience. International Solo Double Bass competitions of 2010 and 2017 held within the framework of the foundation became a contest arena for the world’s best bass players. With international contestants vying for the most generous cash prizes in double bass history, with the jury members led by legendary maestro Zubin Mehta as the honorary chairman, the Bradetich Foundation competition quickly earned fame by becoming the “Van Cliburn” contest for double bass players in the world.
“One and Many”
At the age of sixty, Bradetich doesn’t have any intentions of slowing down.
He is energetic, always curious, constantly thinks of new projects and accomplishments, builds new platforms and his journey with the bass continues metaphorically and literally. As a devoted teacher, Bradetich relentlessly seeks new ways to educate and share his knowledge. “There is always a better way to do something,” he says. His strength as an educator is in “teaching the thought process and concepts of thinking and playing that produce the best results.” Ultimately, Jeff Bradetich sees himself as someone who is “one and many," a unity in which he is able to embrace a multitude of qualities of a soloist, orchestra and chamber music performer, and most importantly, a teacher. For him, these qualities are interdependent, “make people better and more fulfilled” and help to serve the “greater good.”