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Reassessing the impact and influence of the British oboist Léon Goossens

Tobutt, Jonathan (2016) Reassessing the impact and influence of the British oboist Léon Goossens. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In 1907 in Liverpool a ten year old boy was presented with an oboe. The significance of this seemingly ordinary act was to change the course of oboe playing in Great Britain. The boy’s name was Léon Goossens (1897-1988). Seventy years later at one of Goossens’ last solo performances I witnessed how he held a capacity audience spellbound by his playing and reminiscences. My practice-based study reassesses the impact and influence of Léon Goossens and considers his performing strategies (his unique use of tone colour, vibrato, rubato and tempo), his approach to programming and his central role in the development of the British oboe repertoire. Through a series of my own recordings and reflective commentary I suggest how it is possible to adapt Goossens’ distinctive interpretative ideas within the framework of modern-day performance practices. Two case studies are also presented, the Quintet for Oboe and Strings by Arnold Bax and Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for Solo Oboe Op.49 by Benjamin Britten, in which I discuss their pedagogical performance traditions and illustrate how, by reflecting Goossens’ strategies, their respective narratives can be reconsidered and communicated more effectively. A thorough analysis of Goossens’ performance practice provides a clear understanding of his musicianship. Additionally the range of works with which he was associated as dedicatee, or as part of premiere performances is catalogued. To place Goossens’ contribution in context, preliminary chapters outline: • The oboe’s status at the turn of the twentieth century revealing polarised attitudes towards the instrument. • The correlation between the oboe’s progressive mechanisation and decline in popularity as a solo instrument during the late nineteenth century. • The advances of the French school of playing supported by the innovative developments of the oboe maker François Lorée (1835-1902). • Inconsistencies in previous accounts of Goossens’ biography are clarified. This study offers the modern-day oboist an alternative expressive platform to broaden their range of interpretative possibilities through adapting aspects of Léon Goossens’ style of playing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Arnold Bax, Benjamin Britten, Léon Goossens,history of the oboe, Historical performances, François Lorée, Evelyn Rothwell, oboe, oboists, Performance practice, Alan Richardson, Early twentieth century recordings
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Music (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Music (Leeds) > Leeds University Centre for English Music (LUCEM)
Depositing User: Dr Jonathan Tobutt
Date Deposited: 03 May 2017 12:08
Last Modified: 03 May 2017 12:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17003

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