WHAT DID YOU SAY YOU PLAY?
JENNIFER PAULL writes about
her love affair with the Oboe d'Amore
<< Continued from last week
The next day glowing with the enthusiasm of new love, I went to the RCM
for my weekly oboe lesson with Terence MacDonagh. 'You don't want to play
that bloody thing. It's always out of tune, has a mind of its own and no
bloody repertoire', or colourful enthusiasm-dampers to that effect. I had
not the slightest intention whatsoever of taking any notice of Terry!
I must admit, he was right. At that time, the manufacture of oboes d'amore
was a compromise between trial and error. Even the best of them were very
much hit and miss. Sadly there remain some which are not much better today,
although there are now wonderful instruments to be found.
Where to start ? Obviously, I had to get an oboe d'amore somehow. The
how is another complex tale, but I got there to my delight and the
dismay of my family who really thought I had gone completely round the bend
this time. Selling everything you have in the world including cashing in
the little bit carefully put aside for survival, to buy an oboe d'amore,
is not the usual problem put before parents by their wilful daughters. I
realised then, the full impact of going it alone. Without moral support
or understanding, it was going to be hard. My pioneering and passion for
my chosen instrument were not appreciated on the home front. I settled in
London, undaunted, or trying to be.
I kept British Railways in business single-handed as I went from Cantata
to Passion, Passion to Cantata, not to mention the odd Bolero, all
over Britain. However, forced by the London musical profession of the 1960's
which was a bastion of male chauvinism, into being a freelance, I inevitably
spent far too much time playing other oboes of a more habitual variety,
or sitting on public transport. Women were not allowed to play in those
Y-chromosomed London wind sections of yesteryear, with two notable exceptions,
the BBC, and the English Chamber Orchestra.
Copyright © 25 January 2001
Jennifer Paull, Iowa, USA
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JENNIFER PAULL'S OVERVIEW OF THE OBOE
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