About John de Lancie
John de Lancie (1921-2002) was the longtime principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and then director of the Curtis Institute of Music. He was born in Berkeley, Calif., and attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia as a student of Marcel Tabuteau, the French oboist who is considered the father of American oboe playing. In 1940 he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner, and in 1942 he entered the Army and played in its band.
As a 24-year-old soldier occupying defeated Germany, he met the composer Richard Strauss, then 81, and asked him to compose a concerto for the oboe. Strauss initially refused, but later wrote his only concerto for oboe and orchestra. Mr. de Lancie did not play at the premiere of that extraordinarily difficult work, but added it to his repertory.
He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1946 and became principal oboist when Mr. Tabuteau retired in 1954. He retained the position until 1977. He recorded as a soloist with the orchestra, and appeared with the Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet and other chamber groups. In 1959 he commissioned the French composer Jean Françaix to write ''L'Horloge de Flore'' for oboe and orchestra, and performed in its premiere.
In 1977 he became the director of the Curtis Institute, where some of his actions -- like importing the eccentric Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache -- generated controversy. The institute's board requested his resignation in 1985. He returned to music administration, becoming a founding dean of the New World School of the Arts in Miami. He then taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
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