A Visit with Walter Lawson

These pictures were taken on 16 Feb 2004 when I visited Walter Lawson's shop in Boonsboro, Md., to have him repair one of my horns. (It isn't a Lawson; I can't afford one of those!) Walter straightened out some kinks in the F side first valve slide of my Reynolds Pottag Model.

Walter is one of those rare people like Granddad Sanner who improves everything and everyone he touches. I first met him about 35 years ago, thanks to my then-teacher Samuel Ramsay. No one else has ever worked on one of my horns, and, as long as Walter's willing, no one else ever will. He is internationally famous in the French horn community for his superb workmanship, knowledge of horn design, extreme helpfulness, and ethics that Mother Teresa would envy. People come from all over the world to have him repair their horns. He is one of the two musical geniuses I've been lucky enough to know. (The other is Chuck Gallagher.)

I used a Wetzlar Leica M6 and 35mm f/1.4 Summilux lens. Film was Kodak ASA 800. Exposures were whatever the M6's meter indicated, usually about f/4 at 1/60 sec.

Did I manage to capture any decisive moments?

Picture of a Reynolds Pottag Model and Conn Schmidt copy.

Still life: Reynolds Pottag Model (left) and Conn Schmidt copy (right) on the workbench.

The slide goes on the mandrel.

Work begins.

Walter makes a point.

Walter makes a point. (He's probably advising me to stick with my Conn 8D.)

Dent removal begins.

More work with the dent ball.

Dent ball on a curved rod.

Walter smooths out a kink with a dent ball on a curved rod.

Smoothing out a curve.

Walter smooths a curve in the slide.

Test fitting.

Dent removal done. Now comes a test fitting in the horn.

Soldering it together.

Soldering everything back together.

Sanner and Lawson.

A very grateful Howard Sanner (left) and Walter Lawson (right). Photograph by Ned Ramsay.

Walter Lawson passed away 13 June 2007. However, I have chosen to leave the text in the present tense.

Created: 22 Feb 2004
Revised: 27 Sep 2008