Jane Little (musician)

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Jane Little
Birth nameJane Findley
Born(1929-02-02)February 2, 1929
Atlanta, Georgia
DiedMay 15, 2016(2016-05-15) (aged 87)
Occupation(s)Double bass player
Years active1945–2016
Associated actsAtlanta Symphony Orchestra

Jane Little (née Findley; February 2, 1929 – May 15, 2016)[1] was an American classical double bass player, known for her exceptionally long tenure with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.[2]

Early life[edit]

Jane Findley was a native of Atlanta, Georgia.[3] Her mother was a self-taught pianist, and one of her aunts ran a dancing school.[1] As a young girl, Jane dreamed of becoming a ballerina, but was told that her feet "weren't right".[4] Instead, she taught herself to play the piano (on a neighbor's piano, as her family did not own one).[4]

Although small in stature, Findley took up the double bass, a 6-foot-tall (1.8 m) instrument and the largest of the string instruments, while attending Girls High School in Atlanta. She joined the local youth orchestra after studying the instrument for two years.[1][5] After high school, she attended the University of Georgia.[3]


At age 16, Findley became a charter member of the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra, making her debut on February 4, 1945. Two years later, after opening its ranks to adult musicians, the ensemble became the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO). Findley went on to serve as the ASO's Assistant Principal Bass, performing with the orchestra for a total of more than 71 years.[6]

For many years Findley was the only woman in the orchestra. She married Warren Little, the ASO's principal flute player, in September 1953.[7] Mrs. Little, who stood 4 feet 11 inches (1.50 m) in height, said that she was glad to have her husband, who was 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall, carry her double bass around for her, while she carried his flute.[1][7]

According to Guinness World Records, Little holds the world record for longest tenure with a single orchestra.[8] She set the record during a performance on February 1, 2016. The previous record holder was Frances Darger, who played violin for the Utah Symphony for 70 years, until her retirement in 2012.[9]

Little collapsed on stage while performing on May 15, 2016, as the orchestra played an arrangement of "There's No Business Like Show Business"; she died later that day. She was undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma at the time.[4][5] Her husband had preceded her in death in 2002, and she had no surviving immediate family members.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Fox, Margalit (2016-05-21). "Jane Little, Atlanta's Venerable Bassist, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  2. ^ "Jane Little, Atlanta's Dainty Double-Bass Player For 71 Years, Dies Onstage". NPR Morning Edition. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-16.
  3. ^ a b "Jane Little, record-breaking symphony bassist, dies after collapsing on stage". Canadian Broadcasting Company. Associated Press. 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2016-05-18. The Atlanta native had joined the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra at age 16, after two years of studying bass in high school, orchestra officials said. She attended the University of Georgia and studied for four years with the principal bass player of the Chicago Symphony.
  4. ^ a b c Berlinger, Joshua; Marco, Tony (2016-05-16). "Woman who held record for longest tenure with an orchestra collapses on stage, dies". CNN. Retrieved 2016-05-17. Jane Little, a bassist who held the Guinness World Record for the longest professional tenure with a single orchestra, died Sunday night after collapsing on stage during a performance earlier that afternoon.
  5. ^ a b "Record-holding double bass player collapses on stage, later dies". CBS News. Associated Press. 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  6. ^ "Jane Little, Assistant Principal Bass Emeritus | Atlanta Symphony Orchestra". Atlanta Symphony. Retrieved 2016-05-18. Assistant Principal Bass Jane Little was a 1945 charter member of the original Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra, the forerunner of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
  7. ^ a b "Jane Little, Atlanta's Dainty Double-Bass Player For 71 Years, Dies Onstage". Morning Edition. NPR. 2016-05-17. Retrieved 2016-05-18. I was married to the principal flute player for 41 years. And he was this big, 6-feet-2 guy that played a little flute — and he could carry my bass for me, too." Little herself was surprisingly small-framed — only 4 foot, 11 inches — to play the largest member of the string section.
  8. ^ Edgers, Geoff (2016-02-05). "Meet the 87-year-old bassist who just made symphony history". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-05-16. The Atlanta Symphony bassist now held the world record for longest tenure with an orchestra.
  9. ^ Edgers, Geoff; Barbash, Fred (2016-05-16). "'An amazing way to go': Jane Little, world's longest-serving orchestra musician, collapses and dies performing 'There's No Business Like Show Business'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-05-17. ...myeloma ... passed the record set by Frances Darger, the Utah Symphony violinist who had retired in 2012 after 70 years of playing

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