The Impact of the British Oboist Léon Goossens: A Breath in Time

In this study of Léon Goossens’ musical life, the author reassesses the current limited and fragmented perspectives of Léon’s contribution to British oboe playing through his interpretative and performance strategies, his orchestral and solo careers, the people who influenced and were influenced by him, his character as reported by those who studied and worked with him and, significantly, his pivotal role as a catalyst for new compositions that created a considerable library of British oboe music addressing a paucity in the repertoire. To place Léon’s impact in the context of the oboe’s history in Britain, factors concerning the influence of the French School on the British style of oboe playing are explored, as well as the entrenched polarised attitudes towards the instrument and a solo compositional vacuum prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that ultimately provided a platform for a restoration of the instrument’s status.


Jonathan has been an oboist, researcher, teacher, coach, examiner, support worker and librarian. He has a PhD and an MMus in early twentieth century British oboe music performance practice from the University of Leeds. He also studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 2010, Jonathan discovered and catalogued a large amount of unpublished material by the British composer and pianist Alan Richardson (1903-1978); a total of two hundred and seventy-nine hand-written manuscripts, of which twenty-one were written for the oboe family. This was a significant find of hitherto unknown or forgotten works as well as scores thought lost. The Alan Richardson Collection is now accessible on request from the Royal Academy of Music Library.

"[Tobutt] provides insightful comments on Goossens's legacy as pedagogue, recording artist, and dedicatee of new works for oboe, making it an invaluable contribution to the history of oboe playing. No biography can ever be complete, and many details of Goossens' career are still lacking, still Tobutt's account is both engaging and about as complete as could be hoped. The topic of commissions, dedications, and premières is treated with sensitivity. Tobutt challenges modern players to reevaluate their concept of interpretation of early twentieth-century works. [This book] should re-awaken interest in Léon Goossens, and clarify his impact on oboe playing across the past century."

Geoffrey Burgess The Double Reed, International Double Reed Society, vol. 46, issue 4, 2023

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-1079-4

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-1079-1

Release Date: 29th June 2023

Pages: 132

Price: £59.99

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