Fred Begun, who served as principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra from 1951 to 1999, died on September 23, 2012.
Fred Begun began his tenure with the National Symphony immediately after his graduation from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with Saul Goodman. He played under the batons of Barbirolli, Bernstein, Dorati, Fiedler, Fruhbeck de Burgos, Gould, Leinsdorf, Mitchell, Reiner, Rostropovitch, Rudolph, Steinberg, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Walter, and many other conductors.
Fred Begun gave three world-premiere concerto performances for timpani: “Concerto for Five Kettledrums and Orchestra,” written for him by Robert Parris; “Concerto for Five Timpani and Orchestra” by Jorge Samientos; and “Concertante for Timpani and Chamber Orchestra” by Blas Atehortua.
Fred Begun was the author of '21 Etudes for Timpani', published by Meredith Music. George Mason University, where Begun taught master classes, dedicated a percussion studio in the de Laski Performing Arts Building to him.
The last couple of years of his life, Fred Begun maintained a regular Sunday-night gig with a jazz trio.