Maker of the finest handcrafted
custom horns since 1977

S.W. Lewis Orchestral Horns, Chicago
Chicago Symphony horn section

World-class Artists

2012 Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn section
Photo by Todd Rosenberg Photography

Testimonials

“I play a Lewis Horn because I know of no other custom-built horn with better material, finer craftsmanship, a more even scale, and a lovelier tone.”

—Dale Clevenger,
Principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 2013

“The Lewis Horn is special. Its lively, robust sound sets it apart.”

—Dan Gingrich,
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“I have played a Lewis horn since 1986 because of its beautiful, clear tone in all registers.”

—David Griffin,
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“I believe Steven’s horns are some of the finest instruments being hand crafted today. Even though the name Lewis is synonymous with Chicago, these horns are sought after the world over for their clarity of sound which is brilliant yet burnished as well as for their versatility. With a Lewis, I’m able to purr and roar with the utmost of ease and security. My artistry has never been compromised when playing these instruments and as a matter of fact, I now own two of them: one for the orchestra and one for everything else.”

—Oto Carrillo,
Chicago Symphony

“I have been playing my first Lewis horn since my student days at the New England Conservatory in 1992. I am impressed with so many things about these instruments. The sound quality is consistent throughout all registers, and holds together in extreme loud playing. The horn is very responsive and easy to play; the entire palette of articulations is both consistent and easy to produce. I find the intonation to be precise and solid.

The quality of craftsmanship and durability is excellent, and mine has been used as my only horn for 20 years as a professional. Probably the best way to sum up my feelings about my Lewis is that I enjoy it so much that I just got another one!”

—Susanna Drake,
Chicago Symphony Orchestra

“For over 30 years, I have started every day making music with my SW Lewis horn. In my opinion, it is, quite simply, the best horn that money can buy; and it is the only instrument that I play.”

—Eric Ruske,
International Soloist and Recording Artist,
Professor of Horn, Boston University

“After many years of searching, I feel I have finally discovered the horn which is the most versatile instrument I have ever played. I cannot express enough my gratitude to Steve, not only for his technical know-how, but more importantly his consummate artistry in creating such wonderful musical instruments. So often, horns are mechanical first and musical second. Not so with Steve’s horns. From Mahler to Mozart, it never gets in the way, and allows me to say what I want, how I want! What a pleasure.!”

—David Pyatt
Solo horn, London Philharmonic Orchestra

“I don’t play a horn, I play a piece of jewelry! Lewis horns are the most beautifully designed instrument being made today and have a sound to match!

When we look back at the career of Master craftsman Steven Lewis, we will say that the horns he is producing today are from his GOLDEN period! He has horn making fine tuned down to a science and is producing horns today that are the finest quality ever made. His attention to detail is second to none. If you have ever had the privilege to watch Mr. Lewis work you will notice that he has the hands of a neurosurgeon and he takes the time and care to make everything just so for a reason. Nothing is by accident. It is the result of hard work, precision, and attention to details and dedication. Over a nearly 40 year career of making horns for the top horn players in the world, he has consistently made small improvements that lead him to develop one of the greatest instruments ever made! I can honestly say that I will only need one double horn for the rest of my career, my Lewis horn.

Beyond craftsmanship I have come to know Steve, as a man that stands behind his work and takes pride in the results! I can truly say that Steve has become one of my dear friends. He has gone above and beyond to help me and other horn players. Playing a Lewis horn is a privilege and is like being part of a family. I am proud to be part of 3 generations of professional horn players that play his horns.

I want a horn that can do whatever I can imagine. I play horn because I love the sound and that is my voice to express my music on. Lewis horns allow me to achieve whatever I can imagine on the horn. I can play as soft as any woodwind and on the opposite end of the spectrum I can project to the very top seats in the back of our hall when I need to. I need to play a horn that has a great sound in all dynamic ranges, in all registers, and can hold together and not get edgy or ugly at the loudest dynamics. The Lewis horn is the ONLY horn where I can do ALL of these things! I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am with the horn I play today. I love the sound, the ease and security in the high register, the ability to change colors, the beautiful slurs. This horn does it all! I am reminded why I love my horn. Now I want to go practice some more!”

—David Cooper
Principal Horn, Dallas Symphony

“Steve Lewis has long remained a rare gem among horn makers. He combines a dedication to old world craftsmanship, impeccable aesthetics, and uncompromising standards of excellence. His horns are rare works of art that look beautiful, have effortless legato, clarity of projection and above all, a truly gorgeous sound!”

—William VerMeulen,
International Soloist and Recording Artist
Professor of Horn, Rice University Shepherd School of Music
Principal Horn, Houston Symphony
Advisory Council, IHS
President, Vermeulen Music, L.L.C.

“ I can’t decide which or who I appreciate more. The Steve Lewis Horn or Steve Lewis, the man.

My Lewis Horn #11, was the best horn I ever played on. It’s centered and compact sound that could project with brilliance in any hall was a given. It’s evenness in all registers, the uniform sound and pitch were all amazing.

The Lewis Horn is a great horn. But knowing Steve Lewis, the horn maker is as rewarding.

To play on a Lewis Horn is the past, present and future of horn playing. One hundred years from now, the horn will still be in existence. And, Steve Lewis the artist and sculptor, will always be remembered.”

—James Blake,
2nd Horn, Syracuse Symphony, 1971–1982
2nd Horn, Phoenix Symphony, 1982–2009

“In 1984 Steve Lewis delivered my double horn to my home in Kalamazoo. Very soon after that I realized that I possessed a wonderful instrument made by a master instrument maker. I wished that I owned that fine horn during my earlier years at the Juilliard School and when I played extra horn and substituted many times with the New York Philharmonic. It would also have been wonderful during my eight years with the New York Brass, or when I was in the core Skitch Henderson band for the run of the “Our Wonderful Town” CBS television series and certainly when I was first horn with the sixty member Radio City Music Hall symphony orchestra. Also, when I was a Professor of Anthropology & Education at the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and a full time hornist for seven years in the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, I would have delighted to have my Lewis horn. Many years later when, because of illness, I incorrectly thought my horn playing days were over, I offered to donate the horn and a copy of the PBS “Sounding Brass” production to the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History musical instrument collection. The acquisition committee met and decided a Steve Lewis horn is a part of USA history and should have a permanent place in our national museum. I am pleased to know that many fine professional and serious horn afficiandos are playing a Lewis horn. It has all the attributes that are needed for meticulous horn playing.”

—Norman Greenberg, Ph.D.

“Instrument très sain et de fabrication très soignée. Pas de problème de justesse. J’apprécie particulièrement l’homogénéité du son, la qualité du ton de fa et les passages très doux entre les notes.”

—Christopher Danel
corniste à l’Orchestre National de Lille et professeur au Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Lille

“I have known Steve Lewis for more than thirty-five years, and during that time I have experienced a deep appreciation and admiration for him and his work, not only for his meticulous workmanship, but also for the artistry which he employs in everything he does. His workmanship in horn making and in instrument repair is superb and is always endowed with a true artistic approach.

The Lewis horns are a work of art; they play beautifully, with a true, singing tone which projects well at every dynamic level, and which provides an easy, reliable response throughout the entire range. His repair work is likewise as artistic, accurate and reliable.

Throughout the years I have had the utmost respect and admiration for Steve and have always considered him a dear friend as well.

The horn world has been truly fortunate in having someone of Steve’s ability, caring attitude and artistic abilities, not only for necessary instrument repair but for magnificent horn making as well.”

—William C. Robinson,
Retired Former horn teacher:
The Florida State University – 1966–71
Baylor University – 1971–86

“My Lewis horn was love at first sight! It’s a beautifully made horn, with terrific projection and focus, and Steve’s perfectionism always in evidence. There are no “bad” notes. All are centered and extremely even, and the high A fingered open is great!”

—Melanie Cottle,
Freelance Artist, Chicago
Faculty, Wheaton Conservatory

“The quintessential tone of the Lewis horn reminds me why I wanted to play horn in the first place. The resonance, projection, and abundance of overtones in all ranges make it possible to play Mahler with pathos, Wagner with power, and Rossini with delicacy.

The fact that the horns are so well made and seem to intuitively know what you want to do, just add to the thrill of being a partner with the horn in making music.”

—Sharon Corbin,
Horn Instructor, School Districts 205, 87, 88

“I play a Lewis horn primarily because of its great tone and also because of its versatility: it plays well at all dynamic levels, in all registers and in all playing contexts.”

—John Fairfield,
Freelance Artist, Chicago
Professor of Horn, Northern Illinois University

“I’ve loved my Steve horns for over 30 years. They have a wonderful scale, tone, response and consistent from top to bottom. Hard to beat that.”

—Laura Fairfield,
Freelance Artist, Chicago

“There is a special satisfaction in playing on a beautifully hand built instrument, that was made for me. I have had the pleasure of playing Lewis horns since 1982, first in the Opéra de Marseille and since 1984 in the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg (France). The outstanding craftsmanship and attention to detail that Steve Lewis has given to each of my instruments produces a wonderful focused sound and allows me to concentrate on making music to the best of my ability.”

—Kevin Cleary,
Principal horn, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg,
Horn professor, Conservatoire de Strasbourg