Boston mourns a popular flute

Boston mourns a popular flute


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2017

The Boston Flute Academy has announced the death of Fenwick Smith, long-serving second flute of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and principal of the Boston Pops. He was 69.

Fenwick resigned from the orchestras in 2005 to pursue a diverse chamber music and teaching career.

Passionate about modern music he played in recordings of premiere recordings of Copland, Foote, Gaubert, Ginastera, Koechlin, Dahl, Harbison, Cage, Pinkham, Schulhoff, Schuller, Schoenberg, Rorem, and Reinecke.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    A musician’s musician. Boston’s music scene is all the poorer today and forever after. RIP.

    • Lisa-Maree Amos says:

      Fenwick was an incredible mentor to me for my years at Tanglewood. He had an immense knowledge of repertoire and had literally played it all! His passion for the flute and flute music extended far beyond his 2nd flute position at BSO, with commissions and collaborations with major composers, numerous recordings – many self produced, and his famous annual recital. What an inspiration.

      • Ungeheuer says:

        Indeed. I had the honor of getting to know Fenwick and shared a couple of dinners with him at my home and at his Tanglewood cottage which I understand he built on his own, little by little over a period of some 25 plus years. A tremendous person he was. My heart is heavy.

  • Lisa wienhold says:

    I worked with him at tanglewood. Wonderful musician. And person.

  • Bruce says:

    Wonderful musician and a good, good person.

  • William Safford says:

    I met him only once, but was impressed by his kind amiability. Of course, I also appreciated his artistry.

    I believe I remember him telling me that he performed on the Powell flute that he made for himself, when he worked at Powell. Perhaps someone can confirm that for me?

    • Norman Thibodeau says:

      Yes. He worked at Powell a number of years and played a flute he had built himself. He also designed and built a summer home for himself in Berkshires, where he lived during the Tanglewood season.

  • MacroV says:

    When I was in Boston in the mid-90s, his annual fall recital was the unofficial opening of the music season.

    • Bruce says:

      In the mid/late 80s, too. It was always one of those events where everyone would ask each other if they were going, and make plans to go together/ meet up there/ go to dinner afterward, etc. And they were always GOOD.

  • Mike Steinmetz says:

    A great flutist. Had dinner with Fenwick and Steven Finley after a concert many years ago Just a delightful man. He will be greatly missed.

  • Darren Acosta says:

    We lost a good one. Why do the good ones always depart us? Very sad to learn of this. All of the wonderful things already said in these comments ring true — he was such a fine person. Another of his many accomplishments was the incredible former Masonic Temple in Roslindale, which has one of the best acoustics I know of. Testament to his devotion. What a huge loss.

  • Stacey Steele says:

    He will be remembered fondly at the convention I am sure.

  • D'Anna Fortunato says:

    Fenwick left a trail of accomplishments , not all musical but with music in mind. Almost single handedly he rebuild the Masonic Temple in Roslindale, MA into one of the still used premier recording studios in the region. He was well loved my us musicians and certainly by the citizens of Rossie — all those stores/ offices on the 1st and 2nd floor of that building are still in good use . bringing in many people to the area who would not ever go there ! A man with real vision and someone who is unforgettable !

  • Alexander Platt says:

    There will never be another Fenwick Smith. For many of us, he symbolized the heyday of the Ozawa/BSO era in the 1970’s and 80’s.

  • Lee McClure says:

    I am Lee McClure. I met Fenwick when I was 22 while attending Berklee School of Music in 1969. He was carrying a bass flute and I inquired.

    Two things Fenwick taught me about music. 1) At his apt we smoked grass; turned the lights out; and listened to Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. I was musically uneducated; I asked if it was electronic music. It blew my mind. 2) He gave me an LP of the late Beethoven string quartets; that blew my mind even more. (They are music that reflects on subjects rarely dealt with in music. – Satie does this too.)

    Later he invited me to Tanglewood. We smoked before hearing Mozart’s Requiem. During the performance, Fenwick had to tell me to pipe down! I was gasping ooo-ing and ahh-ing outloud.

    After I moved to NYC, we met a few times when the BSO was at Carnegie Hall. Besides being a terrific musician, Fenwick was so loving but also honest.

    Would love to hear from friends of Fenwick.
    (I tried uploading these comments with my email; not sure if it was accepted…)
    —Lee McClure – Founder, Eclectix Chamber Orchestra