American oboist William Bennett (not to be confused with the English composer William Sterndale Bennett) was born on 31 May 1956 in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied oboe at Yale and Juilliard and joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1979, becoming principal oboist eight years later.
The orchestra commissioned John Harbison's Oboe Concerto for Bennett, who gave the first performance in 1992.
Bennett also taught oboe and coached woodwind ensembles at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and performed with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Berkeley Symphony and Symphony Parnassus.
William Bennett collapsed with a cerebral hemorrhage whilst performing the Strauss Oboe Concerto with the San Francisco Symphony in Davies Symphony Hall on 23 February 2013, and died a few days later on 28 February 2013 in a San Francisco hospital, aged only fifty-six.