May 3, 2019

Chapter 1: San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1986


I was a first year student on track for a life in symphony orchestras, but I loved baroque music, especially Bach. I had heard recordings of baroque oboes but I didn't quite fall for them. Then my friend the harpsichord student played me a cassette of Trio Sonnerie performing Couperin. My mind fairly exploded. It wasn't simply discovering a nice record. It was an entire musical world that opened up when I heard violinist Monica Huggett play French music. As it happens, I was playing some Couperin at school, but ours was stiff and belabored, while theirs was all elegance and grace, the ornaments rolling off the phrases without getting in their way. I knew then that I had to play this music a lot, that it would never happen in symphony orchestras, and that my modern oboe could never do that. I had to give up the keys. In the next two years I quit school because I won a full time orchestra job, taught myself baroque oboe on the side, qu...

February 29, 2016

 

 In our upcoming concert, Transalpine Journey, on March 31st, we present a variety of works by Scarlatti, Biber, and Vivaldi. Read on and learn why one of the pieces on the program is called the Damnation Sonata...

 

The Sonata in C minor, RV 53, holds a special place in the oboe's repertoire. The manuscript is found at the Dresden library and has a very interesting history. In 1726 the young Elector of Saxony, August, traveled over the Alps to Venice, where he stayed for one season accompanied by several friends, attendants, and a small selection of musicians from the Dresden court orchestra, which was then beginning to make its mark as the finest in Europe. Its first violinist was Johann Georg Pisendel, who had been Vivaldi's student. The great composer, then at the peak of his fame, was obviously very impressed by the Dresden players, the young oboist Christoph Richters in particular, and in the following years sent many new works north on their own Transalpine Journey. Amo...

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