Fred Begun has been principal timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra since his graduation in 1951 from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with Saul Goodman. He has appeared under the batons of Barbirolli, Bernstein, Dorati, Fiedler, Fruhbeck de Burgos, Gould, Leinsdorf, Mitchell, Reiner, Rostropovitch, Rudolph, Steinberg, Stokowski, Stravinsky, Walter and many other conductors.
He holds the distinction of having given three world-premier concerto performances for timpani: in 1958, the Concerto for Five Kettledrums and Orchestra, written especially for him by Robert Parris; the Concerto for Five Timpani and Orchestra by Jorge Samientos; and the Concertante for Timpani and Chamber Orchestra by Blas Atehortua. Mr. Begun’s book, 21 Etudes for Timpani, is used in music conservatories throughout the world. He is in demand for seminars, workshops and clinics and he presented a timpani symposium/masterclass at the Kennedy Center in 1988.