Léon Goossens

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Blue plaque, 70 Edith Road West Kensington, London

Léon Jean Goossens, CBE, FRCM (12 June 1897 – 13 February 1988) was an English oboist.[1]


Goossens was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, and studied at Liverpool College of Music[2] and the Royal College of Music. His father was violinist and conductor Eugène Goossens, his brother the conductor and composer Eugene Aynsley Goossens and his sisters the harpists Marie and Sidonie Goossens.[3]

During the early and middle parts of the 20th century, he was considered among the premier oboists in the world. He joined the Queen's Hall Orchestra (conducted by Henry Wood) at the age of 15 and was later (1932) engaged by Sir Thomas Beecham for the newly founded London Philharmonic Orchestra, but he also enjoyed a rich solo and chamber-music career. He became famous for a uniquely pleasing sound few other oboists could match.[1] Oboists of the past had tended to be divided between the French school (elegant but thin and reedy in tone) and the German (full and rounded but rather clumsy, with little or no vibrato), but Goossens brought together the best qualities of both styles.[3]

Goossens commissioned a number of works for the oboe from such distinguished composers as Sir Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Rutland Boughton and collaborated extensively with other prominent soloists such as Yehudi Menuhin. Amongst his many pupils were the oboists Evelyn Barbirolli, Joy Boughton, daughter of Rutland Boughton and Peter Graeme, oboist of the Melos Ensemble.[4]

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1950 and made a Fellow of the Royal College of Music in 1962.

Works commissioned/dedicated to Léon Goossens[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rosen, Carole. The Goossens: A Musical Century (1993)
  2. ^ "News of Former Pupils". St Edward's College Magazine. 5 (4): 7. 1987–88. Retrieved 23 August 2020. In 1905 weekly lessons at the Liverpool College of Music inspired the young Leon to take up the oboe with such effect that he played in the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Beecham at the age of twelve!
  3. ^ a b John Warrack, "Goossens, Léon Jean (1897–1988)", in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004); online edition, accessed 30 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b Bliss. Clarinet Quintet. Oboe Quintet. Melos Ensemble Gramophone
  5. ^ Leon Goossens plays Arnold Cooke, Oboe Classics CC2317 (2021)

External links[edit]