What do you call an oboist’s autobiography?

What do you call an oboist’s autobiography?


norman lebrecht

January 15, 2018

Newly available in paperback from Joshua Tree Publishing in Chicago.


  • Doug says:

    Robinson’s story about his “chance” first encounter with a retired Marcel Tabuteau is worthwhile to know. Besides being an excellent oboist and musician, Robinson is outstanding teacher and was always more than willing to answer more detailed technical questions and share his understanding of Tabuteau’s legacy.

    Please, could we refrain from the Blair Tindall dirty laundry hearsay in this thread?

    • anon says:

      “As her teacher for eight years and in honorable fashion, I opened all the correct career doors for oboist Blair Tindall. Her self-incriminating little book reveals that she might have passed through them successfully if she had spent more time sober in the practice room and less time stoned in the bedroom.” (https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RIJKW75OLBGG6/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0871138905)

      Hmmm, mansplaining and slut shaming at the same time. Nice. Long winded is fairly accurate of Robinson.

      • Anon says:

        And empty headed is fairly accurate of you.

      • Tombeau de Couperin says:

        And what about what she did to him? He is a well-respected major league oboist whose reputation took a big hit because Tindall’s editors insisted she “spice up” her book. She named names and sexed up the stories in order to get MITJ published, by her own account.

        Robinson wasn’t the only one she named. What proof do we have that these events actually took place & weren’t just an aspiring writer’s tweaks to reality?

        I remember clearly when MITJ the book first came out. She was ostracized from the classical music community, especially by those who knew the circumstances 1st hand, for a number of years because of the accusations she made against several high profile musicians, with Mr. Robinson at the top of the list. They were inappropriate, in bad taste and their validity was doubtful. She burned her bridges in NY with a vengeance.

        Then everyone forgot about MITJ for a while. The next generation came along, the Roman Coppolas, too young to know the damage the book had done to people like Mr. Robinson. And hence, innocently, MITJ the series, via Coppola, was born. Mr. Robinson, a gentleman, IMHO, has lived thru all of this without saying much publicly. He’s now quietly retired, safely out of the spotlight and has apparently decided it’s his turn to have a say. Bravo.

        I don’t know Ms.Tindall and I don’t know Mr. Robinson. But it seems to me that a tell-all book with accusations against someone who mentored you is not an ethical way to call attention to your plight. It’s cashing in – a way to make money, to get published, to begin a new career – and dragging others’ careers down as a way to do it.

        Had Ms. Tindall been a male author making high flying complaints about people in the world of classical music which were possibly untrue and slanderous, she would have been sued. Period. Her book would have been taken out of print, or her editors would have been served with a mandate to issue a corrected edition.

        Somehow, she escaped all of that. Somehow, maybe because she’s female and perceived as a non-threatening, she got away with it. It’s apparently OK for publishers to print books with unproven accusations by female authors but just let a man try it and he’d be dragged thru the US legal system ad infinitum. That’s my take.

        So my point is, before MITJ was a fun, light-hearted series, it was a book. A pretty trashy book, which did a lot of damage, especially to Joe Robinson. Tindall’s accusations may or may not be true, but a tell-all book was a tacky way to go.

        I’m really glad that Joe Robinson has written an autobiography. He’s a distinguished, well-respected musician with more important stories to tell than who he may have slept with.

        I admire Blair Tindall very much – her intelligence and fearlessness in changing careers successfully – getting off the treadmill of orchestral freelancing straight into Stanford as a journalist! So many of us believe there’s no way out, and she proved there is. Bravisima – what an accomplishent! She’s brought classical music into the mainstream viewing with the series. Young female oboists everywhere have a heroine!

        I only wish she hadn’t stepped on Joe Robinson’s toes to accomplish what she did. I wish them both much success and happiness. Can’t wait to read his book!

        • Brian Boinktano says:

          Please give us specifics on trashy incidents “told” in the book? Who? When and what? It seemed mild to me. Did you read it? It was mostly a history of arts in the US, and frankly boring. Amazing it turned into a series. Also the “aspiring writer” has solid lit and music credentials.

        • Zubin Mehta says:

          Fascinating. Since he is a wonderful teacher, please provide a list of students who play professionally. I count 4 in a 40 year career. It often helps to actually show up at lessons one is supposed to teach. 🙂

          BTW Roman Coppola is over 50, about Tindal’s age: grandfather is flutist Carmine Coppola and great uncle conductor/composer/oboist Anton Coppola.

          And female music students don’t deserve to have their parents pay four years’ tuition for the privilege of being sexually mauled.

        • Sharon says:

          So many of us believe that there is no way out? As a nurse in a psychiatric hospital I wonder why more musicians, at least in the United States, do no license as music therapists. Although it requires a masters degree you will be largely playing what you want. Most of the jobs are unionized through the health unions or government unions. You have pensions and benefits. Once you pass probation (which is based on your work habits, not on the quality of your playing) your job is pretty secure in most places. The nine to five hours will still allow you to take gigs on the side or join community orchestras. Most importantly, you will be using music to provide psychological therapy and support for those who really need it and have no other way to obtain it, such as disabled elderly and veterans, instead of just entertaining rich people

      • Haut Bois says:

        Who ended up with a multimillion $ award-winning TV series and who ended up in a NC trailer park fired two years before his 30 years were up? Hmm. #MeToo gone right for once.

      • YoYo Mama says:

        That is just plain inaccurate. I was in school with her and Keisuke Wakao. That he got the position in the BSO over her was just plain rotten. She was vastly superior to him. Perhaps she was too soloistic for Ozawa’s taste, he wanted someone plain and unimaginative, or just plain Japanese. She was by far the best player in the school, and probably in New York in her cohort. She had a sweetness in her tone quality most others lacked. If anything, Robinson allowed her to get too much work outside school, so she wasn’t there enough. But he was himself a great player and perhaps a great teacher. I don’t disagree that she got onto the wrong side of things, but too many people did in those days, and that’s why her book is so true, and important.

  • Orchestral Musician says:

    The Strauss Oboe Concerto is on the cover, which is a very clever detail considering the title of the book!

    • Hal Sacks says:

      John DeLancie later principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra was in the WW2 Army contingent that met Strauss while liberating his village
      It was John who suggested he compose an oboe concerto,which he had never done.He dedicated it to John who could not premiere it because at the time Tabuteau was principal in Philadelphia. Mitch Miller gave the premiere in New YorkI believe. John got to play in with Philly a few years later.

  • buxtehude says:

    Double read.

  • buxtehude says:

    Go for baroque

  • anon says:

    I Once Did Blair Playing the Oboe

  • The View from America says:

    Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson
    Jesus loves you more than you will know
    Wo wo wo;

    God bless you, please, Mr. Robinson
    Heaven holds a place for those who pray
    Hey hey hey, hey hey hey.

  • Bruce says:

    I always thought he was a beautiful player. I enjoyed listening to him more than to Gomberg — after a couple of NY Phil. recordings with Gomberg I wanted to say “OK, OK, I get it! You’re Ralph Gomberg! We know! Now would you mind turning it down a notch? Jesus.”

    With Robinson I just thought things like “wow, that was nicely done” and “what beautiful oboe playing,” and even “what a beautiful piece” (something that never happened with Gomberg, because it would have required taking your attention off the oboe player and directing it to the music).

  • Peter Bowman says:

    I have not read Joe’s book yet because I forgot where to order it from. Anybody who can sit in that chair as long as Joe did and keep up the quality deserves a Pulitzer prize. If you read this Joe please email me at bowmanp90@gmail.com. love to hear from you. Peter bowman

  • Blair Tindall says:

    I believe you call it “Mozart in the Jungle.”

  • Blair Tindall says:

    What’s really interesting is that the story stopped in 1978, probably because a sexual harassment arbitration regarding another (female) orchestra member, forbade him from speaking to her or about it. His life wasn’t too interesting until the Philharmonic years. I get the impression almost no one, including everyone here except me, read it.