Both of the partners in Olympic Drums & Percussion – Scott Colner and Bill Wanser – were “Hinger students.” As a student at Yale University and Manhattan School of Music, Scott studied tympani and percussion with Fred D. Hinger. Bill studied with Mr. Hinger at the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned his master’s degree in percussion performance. Both men have a continuing deep admiration and respect for the musical concepts taught by this extraordinary gentleman and percussionist. They are honored to collaborate with Bill Hinger, Fred Hinger’s son, to offer for sale the collection of percussion instruments owned and used by Fred Hinger.
Before exploring the history of Mr. Hinger’s company, Hinger Touch-Tone Corporation, we want to share a brief biography of the man.
Fred Hinger was born and raised in a small home in Cleveland, Ohio. His love of music started in junior high school where he began playing the snare drum. As he progressed through high school his enthusiasm for and love of percussion instruments grew. After graduating from high school, he attended the Eastman School of Music where he studied under William Street. It was there where he truly started to develop many of the unique concepts for playing percussion instruments that “Billy Street” was so well known for. While at Eastman he played in as many ensembles as possible, as well as in the Rochester Philharmonic where he had the opportunity to observe Billy Street’s playing abilities and techniques first-hand.
After graduating from Eastman with a Bachelor of Music Education degree, he joined the Navy Band in Washington, D.C., where he was the xylophone soloist for six years. During that time he continued to develop the ideas that Billy Street had implanted. Using these ideas as a foundation, he continued to expand and experiment with these and other techniques and ideas, with sound being the primary driver of his development. He was constantly experimenting with different mallet techniques and materials to produce the sounds he was seeking. During this early time in his career he started making his own mallets rather than purchasing what was available commercially. While in the Navy he married Marjorie Jean Eccles, his childhood sweetheart in Cleveland. They had two children, Shirley Jean Hinger and William Daniel Hinger, who was named after “Billy Street.” In 1948, he left the Navy and returned to Cleveland where he began studying toward a master’s degree from Western Reserve University.
Shortly after he began his studies at Western Reserve, the Principal Percussion position opened in the Philadelphia Orchestra. He went to Philadelphia, auditioned, and won the position. In 1953, David Grupp, the tympanist, retired from the orchestra. Fred Hinger was invited to take the position of tympanist after one of the most unique auditions ever conducted. Eugene Ormandy called a rehearsal and asked Fred Hinger to substitute as tympanist. When he got there, the rehearsal folder contained just about everything one could expect in a tympani audition, from Romeo and Juliet to the Rite of Spring. After that rehearsal Ormandy called Fred into his office and offered him the position of tympanist. He remained in that position for 13 years.
In 1966 during a long and agonizing labor strike, Fred Hinger was contacted by the New York Metropolitan Opera Association and was asked to come to New York to talk. He assumed they were going to ask him to audition, but he had already decided he would not participate in an audition. When he arrived, he was met by the entire front office of the Metropolitan Opera Association and was treated like royalty. They had already prepared a very generous contract and he was offered the position of principal tympanist on the spot. He accepted the position, starting with the 1967 season and continued there for the remainder of his career, until his retirement in 1983.
In addition to his orchestral positions, Mr. Hinger held positions at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Manhattan School of Music in New York City, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.