During high school, Steven began attending performances of the New York Philharmonic. At these performances, he fell in love with the music of Mahler, Strauss, Bruckner, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and so many more great composers.
Growing up in a musical home in Great Neck, NY, there was no way to escape learning how to play some form of instrument. Steven Cohen began his musical life listening to the sounds of his mother’s piano playing and the recordings of fellow Siegfried’s Call artist, Marty Hackleman, and The Canadian Brass. According to sources, he began pointing at the various instruments saying, “I want that one.” After moving from slide trumpet (soprano trombone) to cornet and eventually trumpet in elementary school band, Steven reached the revelation that the horn was for him in the sounds of Billy Joel’s “The Ballad of Billy Kid.” “The horn line in the song just jumped out at me and I knew that I needed to play whatever was making that sound!” After a few years on horn in band, Steven began taking private lessons and joined a local youth orchestra. There were a few bumps along the road, but eventually, he found himself studying with R. Allen Spanjer and began pre-college studies at Mannes College for Music.
During high school, Steven began attending performances of the New York Philharmonic. At these performances, he fell in love with the music of Mahler, Strauss, Bruckner, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and so many more great composers. From sitting at the score desk to a seat in Avery Fisher Hall, Steven’s love of music grew greater. Whether in youth orchestra, high school band and orchestra, at Mannes prep, or studying at the Brevard Music Center, he found himself cherishing the chance to play the horn and knew that his future was to perform. When the time came to make the choice about where to go, the choice was clear. Growing up hearing the New York Philharmonic, Steven saw Philip Myers, principal of the NY Phil, as his horn hero (and still does to this day). When the chance to study with Phil at Mannes, there was no question that Mannes was the place for him.
While at Mannes, Steven’s musical life got further changed. Having the opportunity to work in master classes with world-renowned teachers and performers, making him think about music and how to perform it in new ways. He brought these ideas with him when he was hired to teach and perform at the French Woods Festival for the Performing Arts in 2009. It was at French Woods that Steven had the chance to share his love of music with his students and expand his love of the Broadway music, performing shows all summer. Upon to return to Mannes after French Woods, Steven began his freelance life in New York, performing with various local orchestras and new music ensembles. In April 2010, he became principal horn with The Manhattan Symphonie and held the position until the chance of a lifetime came along for Steven.
In the fall of 2010, Steven took some time away from school to join The New 25th Anniversary Production of Les Misérables as principal horn. Les Mis holds a special place in Steven’s life as he was introduced to the show at age 11 and wanted the chance to play the show from the moment he saw it. The show’s music and story helped Steven through one of the most difficult times in his life, having lost his father in April 2004. He cherished every moment of every performance during his time with Les Mis, as he believes that music can change someone’s life in just a matter of minutes, especially with that Les Mis gives its audience.
Upon completion of his time with Les Misérables, Steven returned to school in his wife’s home state of Nebraska at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He wanted a change of scenery and the chance to be closer to one of his favorite teams, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. As a student at Nebraska, he has the chance to share his love of music with his fellow Huskers in a variety of ensembles. Steven has performed as a concert soloist at UNL, performing Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1 in March 2013. He has taken his solo playing to the national stage as a National Finalist in the Music Teacher’s National Association’s Young Artists Brass competition, and continues to be an in-demand performer within the orchestral and Broadway realm. Steven has performed with such shows as Wicked, The Lion King, and Billy Elliot, and during the holiday season performs with Mannheim Steamroller. As an orchestral and chamber performer, he holds positions with various ensembles in Nebraska.
Steven’s love of the horn far extends just being a performer. As a scholar, he has presented at the international level on Broadway pit performance. He had the pleasure of presenting this lecture, “from ON stage to UNDER it: Transforming from an Orchestral to Pit Hornist and Back,” at the 45th International Horn Symposium. Steven is currently working on a project exploring teaching and performing practices as they apply to works of J.S. Bach that feature the horn. Steven currently lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Jill, a nurse, and their two dogs, Copley and Yogi. He holds his Bachelor’s from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is also is pursing his Master’s as a graduate teaching assistant at UNL’s Glenn Korff School of Music.
- Horn: Engelbert Schmid Triple (F/B-flat/f)
- Mouthpiece: Stork Custom B8 and L’Olifant Paris A8 both with an original Giardinelli rim
- Case: CardoCase, “A Night at the Opera”
- Mute: Horn Crafts Sylva, a truly original Rittich (with a rich history), Alexander stop, Faxx practice
- Oils and repair kit
- Pentel Twist-Erase pencil with 0.9 mm lead
- An open mind
- Recordings of the greats!
Something Worth Learning
No matter how perfect a performance may be, we always have the ability to learn from ourselves and improve as musicians.
- Jill, Copley and Yogi
- Amazing performance experiences!
Our instrument is one that makes us think a great deal and sometimes we overthink what it asks of us. Each day the horn brings new and unique challenges for us to accomplish, but knowing what comes with success should always keep us moving forward through any and all challenges.