This letter appeared today in the Inquirer, warning against the loss of a very particular Philadelphia sound.
The Philadelphia Orchestra is fortunate to have a Music Director of your capabilities and stature, and in that position, I ask you to respect and protect a cherished tradition that has been an integral part of the Orchestra since the days of Leopold Stokowski.
One of the great shining lights in the Orchestra’s history was Marcel Tabuteau, principal oboist from 1915 to 1954, and teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1925 until his retirement. In those capacities, he is rightly credited for raising classical music performance standards in this country to an unprecedented level. His students and colleagues on all instruments learned from him and passed on his musical principles to the generations that succeeded them.
When Tabuteau retired, his student, John de Lancie assumed his position, as later did de Lancie’s student, Richard Woodhams: an unbroken chain of more than 100 years’ duration, advancing a very special musical concept and sound that has contributed significantly to the unique character of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It distresses me and many other knowledgeable musicians, who understand the subtleties of which I speak, that you are considering engaging someone of a different school of playing, thus not preserving the extraordinary tradition that has inspired us for so many years.
I urge you to select a principal oboist of the same school of playing as that of the past. I can say with absolute certainty that there are oboists readily available who can meet your rigorous standards, and who understand Tabuteau’s concepts. You owe it to Philadelphia, to the Orchestra, to future generations, and to yourself, to allow this great tradition to continue unhindered.
Founder, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia