The finest bassoonist in Europe has gone to his rest

The finest bassoonist in Europe has gone to his rest


norman lebrecht

December 19, 2013

We have received news of the death of Brian Pollard, one of the first British players to win a principal seat in a world-ranked orchestra. Brian was principal bassoon in the Concertgebouworkest. When I met him in 1983, he was one of the hardest-working members of the most conscientious ensemble I had ever come across, an orchestra in which players arrived an hour early for rehearsal, to be ready for the first downbeat. Brian was often the first in his seat.

Several bassoonists have described him as the beacon by which they led their lives.

Sympathies to his family and colleagues.

brian pollard

photo: Maarten Vonk


  • John McDougall says:

    A beacon indeed! Not a day goes by when I don’t think to mysel, “How would Brian play this?”

    I still haven’t reached his level of style, phrasing & and tone production, but I’ll never stop trying.

  • Fagotera says:

    And I am one of them…. Since I can remember I loved his playing, so expressive and vibrant, he was my idol. I had a chance to meet him in one of the orchestras’s visit to Barcelona some 20 years ago. I asked if I could play for him and he gave me a 4 hour lesson! As payment he only accepted to have diner together, so we did and had a wonderful time. His teachings and advice stay with me forever. So long Brian, rest in peace.

    Silvia Coricelli

    Principal bassoon,

    Barcelona Symphony Orchestra

  • Ira Spaulding says:

    I recall listening to a rehearsal with the Concertgebouw for the Verdi requiem with my pocket score, Brian saw me and asked if he could borrow my score for the next 24 hours as he really wanted to see the other parts in relation to his! He was a true musician and will be sorely missed, my condolences to his family and friends.

  • I was lucky to meet Mr. Pollard in Rotterdam in 1995, just after his retirement, where I was performing. He was a true gentleman, and a player of such great expressiveness. I greatly admired his playing, and he was an inspiring model for any musician, but especially bassoonists.

  • I met Mr. Pollard in 1995 when I was performing for the IDRS in Rotterdam. Koen von Slogteren had introduce me to him. He has been a hero of mine since my twenties when I became familiar with the Dutch school and the Concertgebouw orchestra. He has always been an inspiration for me and I feel lucky to have met him, a true musical hero has passed on.

  • Nelson Armitano says:

    I had the pleasure and fortune of meeting Mr. Pollar when I arrived in Amsterdam, with the intention of taking my very first audition for a professional orchestra. As it turned out, his wife was assigned to me as my accompanist by the Nederlands Kamerrkest, the job I would eventually take. At their home I received the most invaluable support and advise from this lovely man, wonderful musician (as I would later learn) and charming personality.

    He was indeed a beacon and an example of professionalism, musicianship and collegiality. He will be greatly missed.

  • sibyl morris says:

    Brian was a lovely person as well as a very fine bassoonist, and I remember him with great affection. Many years ago, he and his wife Marion were very kind to me when I was a hard-up, hungry and homesick South African studying piano and clarinet in Amsterdam, and they often invited me round for meals. My condolences to his family – I am sorry we lost touch after I returned to SA.

  • NYMike says:

    In the days when most European bassoonists still played without vibrato (unlike American bassoonists) Pollard stood out (at least to me) as I heard him many times with the Concertgebouw both here in New York and once in Amsterdam.

  • Per Jonsson Gille says:

    In 1984 I was in Amsterdam to study with Joep Terwey. One day he was sick so I called Brian Pollard instead. After a two-hour lesson I wanted to pay him, but he refused to take my money and said: look, you are happy because you have learnt something and that makes me happy too, and the sun is shining! I will never forget this. Per Jonsson-Gille 2nd Bassoon Norrköping Symphony Orchestra Sweden