Great Orchestral Players of Yesteryear: Leon Goossens, oboist

In my day, Leon Goossens stood head and shoulders by reputation above all the other principal oboists in London and elsewhere.  His sound, which I find difficult to describe, was round, almost trumpet-like and not very “reedy“, as so many oboists sound,  but I thought it was exquisite.  He was sought after by many orchestras and conductors and began a solo playing career, appearing as an orchestra principal less and less as his fame developed.  His recordings are now legendary.He was of Flemish descent.  I was once introduced to his father, the conductor Eugene Goossens who was still living in  Antwerp. Leon, despite his Flemish background spoke perfect English with an upper class accent.  He was handsome, tallish, slim, fair haired and slightly balding.He was a good raconteur, and had the air of a lordly squire which many found attractive, especially the young girls.  He taught at one of the leading schools of music and had many young ladies as pupils, one of whom said to me, “I do like that dear Mr. Goossens, he’s so wonderful, don’t you think?”  His bon mot to his fellow oboe instructor was “You teach ‘em and I’ll screw ‘em”, a saying that is now famous.I often used to see him at free lance dates and we sometimes chatted, and although we were not friends in the true sense I always enjoyed his company. Alas, tragedy was to strike him one night late when he was driving home from a concert.  A drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into his car.  I never saw him playing the oboe again, but he did continue playing  the English horn until he was a good age.

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Published in: on November 29, 2007 at 2:58 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] in this little write up is a “famous saying” of his that I had never heard before. I wouldn’t have minded […]

  2. […] made (or was alleged to have made) what was deemed to be an offensive remark. (see my blog, Leon Goossens) and this led to a minor protest and afterwards windows were installed on all the studios of that […]


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