David Craig Forbes, was born February 12, 1938 to Douglas J. Forbes and Ruby A. Niles. He passed away on April 27, 2009 at the Hospice Care Center in Bremerton after a long illness. An accomplished professional musician, Dave's musical ability was honed with many years of childhood piano lessons. During high school he included in his musical repertoire the study of the French Horn. He excelled to such an extent under the tutelage of Alvin Shardt (then principal horn with the Seattle Symphony) that he represented Washington State in the All-Nation Orchestra in St Louis his senior year. A second generation Seattle native, Dave graduated from West Seattle High School in 1956.
After high school Dave attended the Navy School of Music in Washington DC. He was a member of Navy Bands in San Diego as well as principal horn of the La Jolla Symphony. In 1962, at only 24, he joined the Seattle World’s Fair Band. Having attended Western Washington University, he joined the Seattle Symphony, Opera and Ballet in 1964. He was present during one of the symphony's most exciting development periods in which it emerged as a nationally recognized and respected orchestra. He was well known for his tireless involvement in the Orchestra's internal affairs, which included chairing the Seattle Symphony & Opera Players Organization and serving on several of its contract negotiating committees. He taught at Western Washington University and the Cornish Institute.
Among musicians Dave’s talent and poise during performances was recognized as legendary. He was a consummate soloist on the French Horn and was admired by his colleagues, especially for the beauty of his tone and musical expression. He was especially proud of his unofficial record of complete Wagner’s Ring cycles he had performed in. With formal productions and dress rehearsals, he numbered more than 50 heroic appearances in the internationally acclaimed operas, including the famous off-stage horn-calls in Siegfried. His talent spanned both the classical and jazz worlds as Dave also performed professionally on jazz piano.
Dave was not only a fine musician, but had a highly developed, sophisticated, and extraordinary sense of humor. It was always in evidence, both inside and outside his work environment, keeping musicians in a positive state of mind even during periods of overwork or stress. In addition to that finely honed sense of humor, Dave was an extremely kind person. His warm personality positively affected everyone around him. In the frequently stressful work environment of a symphony orchestra, Dave’s positive personality, infectious humor and genuine affection for both his art and his colleagues were valued and appreciated.
He retired in 2003 and eventually moved to Poulsbo to be closer to family.
His death is a significant loss, not only to his many friends and family, but to the artistic community of Seattle. Dave has been a leader on the forefront of musical culture in our city for well over 50 years. With his death Seattle has lost one of its major musical talents and, for many, a great friend. Good bye, Dave, we will miss you.
He is survived by daughter Angela (Ralph) Bickerton of Bainbridge Island, grandchildren Elisabeth and John, stepchildren Lorna Holmes of Hillsdale MI, Cynthia and Stuart (Laurie) Holmes, all of Bainbridge Island, brother Bruce (Marlen) Forbes and nephew Ian Forbes, all of San Diego .
A memorial service will be held at 1 pm Monday, June 1 at Alki Congregational United Church of Christ, 6115 SW Hinds St Seattle, WA 98116.
The family request remembrances be made to the Seattle Symphony Endowment Fund.
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