John de Lancie (oboist)

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John Sherwood de Lancie (July 26, 1921 – May 17, 2002) was an American oboist and arts administrator. He was principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 23 years and also director of the Curtis Institute of Music.[1]

De Lancie was born in Berkeley, California. Starting in 1940, he was principal oboist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner.[2] In 1942, he enlisted and served in the US military during World War II, performing with the US Army Band.[1] He met Richard Strauss during his tour of duty as a soldier in Europe at the end of World War II. De Lancie knew Strauss's orchestral writing for oboe thoroughly and asked the composer if he had ever considered writing an oboe concerto. The composer answered simply "No", and the topic was dropped. Six months later, de Lancie was astonished to see that Strauss had changed his mind and was indeed publishing an Oboe Concerto. Strauss saw to it that the rights to the U.S. premiere were assigned to de Lancie. However, de Lancie had joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1946 as a section oboist, so that as a junior member and under orchestral protocol, he was not able to premiere the concerto since Philadelphia's principal oboist, Marcel Tabuteau, had seniority. De Lancie then gave the rights to perform the premiere to a young oboist friend at the CBS Symphony in New York, Mitch Miller, who later became famous as a music producer and host of a sing-along TV show.[3][4][5]

De Lancie became principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1954, and held the post until 1977. He also performed with chamber ensembles such as the Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet.[6] He also commissioned a piece for oboe and orchestra, L'horloge de flore (The Flower Clock), by the composer Jean Françaix. He taught at the Curtis Institute of Music, and served as its director from 1977 to 1985. At his death, de Lancie was one of the few remaining students of Marcel Tabuteau of Curtis. De Lancie's playing, marked by an extraordinary intensity that replaced the traditional vibrato of the European school, was marked by a dramatic character and an expressive use of color, as he always aimed for what he called the "bottom" of the sound.[citation needed] One of his own students, Richard Woodhams, eventually succeeded him as principal oboe in the Philadelphia Orchestra. His former student of the same time, Peter Bloom, aided by de Lancie, published in detail the history of the Strauss Oboe Concerto and de Lancie's role in its creation (The Pendragon Review, 2001).[citation needed]

De Lancie died in Walnut Creek, California in 2002, aged 80. His wife Andrea, whom he met in Paris during the war, survived him, as do their two children, their son, the actor John de Lancie, and their daughter Christina. His brother Richard de Lancie also survived him.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Peter Dobrin (2002-05-19). "John de Lancie, 80; oboist in the Philadelphia Orchestra". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2016-09-13. 
  2. ^ Kenneth Morgan (2005). Fritz Reiner, maestro and martinet. University of Illinois Press. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-0-252-02935-6. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  3. ^ The Double Reed. International Double Reed Society. 2005. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  4. ^ Sir Compton Mackenzie; Christopher Stone (2004). Gramophone. General Gramophone Publications Limited. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. "How Strauss Came to Write His Oboe Concerto". New York Times (ArtsBeat blog). Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  6. ^ Douglas Martin (2002-05-27). "John de Lancie, 80, an Oboist And Curtis Institute Director". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-09-13. 

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