The Oboe Player
Three things he loves with no sense of
by Daniel Brick
moderation: his wife, Claire, a woman of charm
and beauty, twelve years his devoted spouse;
his garden, which nurtures forty-seven flower species,
and, as he proudly tells friends, not one flower has
deserted its place for another garden;
his oboe, a majestic affair designed and made
by the master, Francois Ballois, in 1819. It virtually
plays itself, he tells admiring colleagues.
When the offer to premiere Elliot Carter's just composed
Oboe Concerto was delivered, he hesitated: Carter's work
being so craggy, his fingerings so eccentric, and what did
those high notes mean really? ...
But his wife said, Oh, darling, how wonderful - a week
in New York City; and the flowers sent waves of fragrance
over him as he sat in their midst, signalling their approval;
and the oboe was unequivocal, You fool, of course we're going!
This is Elliott Carter! He's 97 years to heaven, for heaven's sake.
What could he do but comply? That evening he and the oboe began rehearsing. It was tough going. The next morning he called
his travel agent for flight and ticket arrangements.
He could hear the oboe rehearsing in the adjacent room.