The Kennedy Center

Fred Begun


Fred Begun was principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra from the time of his graduation from the Juilliard School of Music in 1951, where he studied with Saul Goodman, until his retirement in June 1999. 

He appeared under the batons of Barbirolli, Bernstein, Dorati, Fiedler, Frühbeck de Burgos, Gould, Leinsdorf, Mitchell, Reiner, Rostropovich, Rudolf, Slatkin, Steinberg, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Walter, and many other conductors.

He holds the distinction of having given four world premiere concerto performances with the NSO: the Concerto for Five Kettledrums and Orchestra (1958), written especially for him by Robert Parris and repeated on the NSO's 1983-84 subscription series; Concertante for Timpani and Chamber Orchestra (1965) by Blas Atehortúa; the Concerto for Five Timpani and Orchestra (1965) by Jorge Sarmientos; and John Stephens' Three Symphonic Etudes for Solo Timpani and Orchestra (1999). 

Mr. Begun authored 21 Etudes for Timpani, which is used in music conservatories throughout the world. He was also in demand for seminars, workshops, and clinics, and he presented a timpani symposium/master class at the Kennedy Center in 1988. He was active in "Mighty Special Music Makers," working with this group of musicians with mental and physical special needs. In April 2012, George Mason University, to which he donated his entire library of scores and timpani parts, named its percussion studio the Fred Begun Percussion Suite.
Fred Begun