James Madison Cox, hornist

"James Madison Cox, the principal horn player, was heroic throughout," wrote The New York Times (February 23, 2011) of a Carnegie Hall performance by Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. The Chicago Classical Review (March 18, 2014) praised his "terrific playing", and the Boston Musical Intelligencer (March 20, 2014) wrote that "James Madison Cox negotiated Bruckner's difficult and mercilessly exposed French Horn parts with accuracy and brilliance."


The Seattle Times (February 27, 2011) observed that "James Madison Cox played with much poetry," and senior British critic Bernard Jacobson reported in Seen And Heard International (October 3, 2014) that "James Madison Cox offered wonderfully poetic and assured horn solos." The Jerusalem Post (October 19, 2014) wrote of "the technical mastery of the principal horn, James Madison Cox." "The execution was stunning," according to the San Francisco Examiner (November 9, 2015), and classicalsource dot com (March 23, 2014) stated that "James Madison Cox's horn solos were gorgeous."


Reviewing performances of solo concerti, the Norddeutsche Zeitung (June 18, 1998) described him as "a world-class solo hornist," and the Jerusalem Post (November 21, 1999) cited his "faultless technique, impeccable musicianship, and total involvement with the music."


James Madison Cox has served as Principal Horn with L'Orchestre National de France in Paris at the request of Kurt Masur 2004-05, including a Hans Werner Henze premiere, and performed as Principal Horn with the Brussels Opera under Sir Antonio Pappano 1998-2002, both concurrent with his full-time position with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He gave the first IPO performance of the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 with Maestro Mehta in 1999, a work they also took on tour abroad in 2001. In 2005 and 2006, he headed IPO hornists in Schumann's Konzertstueck for Four Horns and Orchestra in Israel and Europe (scheduled again for 2016), and was soloist in 2010 in Mozart with Mehta. He has performed in chamber music series in London and Brussels, and is a teacher with three former students among his IPO colleagues.


In his earlier years, James Madison Cox also performed as Principal Horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London under Sir Andrew Davis, and with L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo during the tenures of James DePriest and Lawrence Foster. He appeared as guest soloist in horn concerti with orchestras in Europe and the US, and made his Israel Philharmonic solo debut with Zubin Mehta conducting in 1992. His chamber music partners in Israel have included Frederic Chaslin, Orli Shaham and Gil Shaham. 


Mr. Cox was born in 1956 and grew up in Chicago. In 1970 he was encouraged to play horn by Hamburg NDR conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. Though he learned to play mainly from his professional experience in the U.K. and Europe listed above, his early training included three years as a scholarship student of James Chambers at The Juilliard School, and four years performing as a substitute with the New York Philharmonic under the guidance of his friend and teacher, the late Jerome Ashby. He later studied in Chicago with Arnold Jacobs and in London with Nicholas Busch.


James Madison Cox joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Horn in 1990, and received his twenty-five-year pin from Maestro Mehta onstage at a concert in July, 2015, during which Mr. Cox spoke to the public about the role of family and community in maintaining the performing arts in Israel. He continues his full schedule with the orchestra unimpaired, despite a stroke in 2014 and the removal of lip cancer in 2012. He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and daughter.

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