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Five Famous Bassoon Players

The bassoon is not everyone’s plaything. Even in numerous music bands, only a few people can play the woodwind instrument. However, there are those who have mastered the art and made a career out of playing the instrument. Meet five of the world’s best players.

1. Frederick J. “Fritz” Reiner

Reiner was a top conductor for many years and performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1909 to 1954. He had a four-year period when he served in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (1926–30). The man is best known as the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He was also part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1947 to 1954.

A man of many hats, he was also a professor at the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music from 1926 to 1941, where he taught a few notable bassoonists, including John Sebastian and David McGill.

2. David McGill

McGill was a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1962–82) and Case Western Reserve University (1982–85). He also directed the woodwinds department for many years at Interlochen Arts Camp. McGill was a member of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra from 1953 to 1956. He extended his expertise to substitute a judge for the Geneva International Music Competition in 1960 and 1969.

3. Claire Andrade-Lloyd

Claire was a very talented woman in an era when women were not welcome in orchestras. She was the first woman to be named principal bassoon of a major orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, in 1953.

She had an excellent musical rapport with other CSO musicians, including oboist Russell Frank Lloyd (her husband). The duo often performed together in chamber music recitals. They were both given honorary doctorates from Northwestern University. Claire died in 1988 after a long career as a teacher, chamber musician, orchestral player, and soloist.

4. William “Billy” Reed

Reed was the first African-American to hold principal string positions in major US orchestras. He performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1946 to 1966, having worked with conductor Eugene Ormandy for many years. The Philadelphia Orchestra was one of the best orchestras globally.

5. Anthony Jennings

Anthony began his musical career as a flutist and switched to the bassoon at the age of sixteen. He studied at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto under Anna Bird (1913–1987). After graduation, he became an orchestral musician and solo performer, playing principal bassoon for the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra from 1978 to 2001.

His teaching experience includes being an instructor at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Currently, he is the music program director at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.