Boston mourns an English horn, 93

Boston mourns an English horn, 93


norman lebrecht

February 06, 2019

We hear that Larry Thorstenberg, the Boston Symphony’s solo English Horn from 1964 to 1993, died last week in a California hospice.

Aged 93, he served in the Second World War before studying with Tabuteau at Curtis. Larry played successively in the symphony orchestras of Utah, Baltimore, Dallas and Chicago. He moved to California in 1998.


Marcel Tabuteau with Curtis students, 1949. L-R: Louis Rosenblatt, Laurence Thorstenberg, Laila Storch, John Mack, and Walter Bianchi. Photo by Daniel Sagarman.




  • NYMike says:

    Besides Thorstenberg’s BSO tenure, there’s Rosenbatt’s E. Horn Philly’s tenure and Mack’s Cleveland Orchestra’s 1st oboe tenure – all three from the photo now gone.

  • phf655 says:

    He couldn’t have retired in 1988, if he was principal English Horn of the BSO until 1993.

    • Max Grimm says:

      I’m amazed that he was even alive in 1988, considering this sentence:
      “Aged 93, he served in the Second World War before studying with Tabuteau at Curtis.”

      • The Original Anon says:

        He was born in 1925. He was in the Army 1944-1946. After the Army, he attended Curtis and graduated in 1951. He retired from the BSO in 1993 and moved to California in 1998. It’s a perfectly logical timeline. What is so amazing?

        As far as going to school after serving in the Army, it was very common in those days. Offhand, I seem to recall that John Williams and Henry Mancini also did it in that order.

        John De Lancie also enlisted in the Army during WW2, and served in Europe where he had his famous encounter with Richard Strauss which inspired the Strauss Oboe Concerto. Pretty sure he also attended Curtis when he came back from the war. At any rate he eventually ended up as President of Curtis.

        Mr. Thorstenberg’s bio is perfectly logical and par for the course for musicians of that era.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    He’s famous for “The Swan of Tuonela” with Sir Colin Davis and BSO

  • The Original Anon says:

    Why is there silence from the Boston Symphony on this? This is a revered, long-time member of the orch. and they have said absolutely nothing about his death. Are they waiting for family members to issue a statement? As far as I know, he was on his own and he has no survivors. They are waiting in vain. BSO was his family.

    Nor has any newspaper come forward with an obituary. This is shameful. Thank heavens Norman posted this.

    When a musician is alone at the end – and it is not uncommon – it’s the musical community he was a part of which should step up and make sure he is remembered appropiately. Come on BSO, the ball’s in your court.

    • Roni says:

      I couldn’t agree more! Larry was a gifted musician, teacher, mentor and friend. He is missed.

      • Judie Canino Fujita says:

        I studied oboe with Larry Thorstenberg in the 60’s when he played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was a kind and patient teacher. This was especially evident when it came to adjusting my home-made reeds, the bane of my existence. I sorely missed him when he left for the Boston Symphony.
        Years later, in the late 80’s, the BSO had a concert in NYC ( I had relocated to NJ by then.). I got in touch with him when I heard that he would be in NYC And asked if could find time to give a lesson to my teen-age son (who also played oboe); he graciously agreed.
        Sitting in his hotel room, listening to the lesson, I was transported back 20+ years to a simpler and very happy time of my life – when my whole life revolved around playing oboe in various orchestras, including the Civic Orchestra. I felt such deep gratitude to him for being the perfect teacher for me. I also realized that my life would have been radically different had I not had such an excellent teacher.
        Looking back, I wish that I had better expressed my gratitude to him.