Topic: Tribute to Ralph Gomberg by Eugene Izotov
Eugene Izotov asked me to post this for him.
Ralph Gomberg, In Loving Memory and Endless Gratitude
When I was 8 years old, my classmate at the Gnesin Music School in Moscow lent me an audio tape with the recording of Swan Lake performed by an American orchestra. There was no label on the tape so there was no way to find out which orchestra it was. When I heard the first note of the opening oboe solo, I knew that my life would never be the same. I immediately fell in love with the purity of tone and the beauty of phrasing of the solo oboist. On that distant day I could never imagine that it was the playing of Ralph Gomberg of the Boston Symphony Orchestra – the man who, ten years later, would become my teacher, mentor, friend, and a source of endless inspiration as a human being. From my first meeting with him in 1991, I knew that I was in the presence of a giant – his spirited voice, intense eyes, towering posture and magnificent intellect were sometimes surprising combined with his wonderful sense of humor and extraordinary kindness. Gomberg made me realize there was so much to learn but the way he explained music to me, the way he described the things that "really mattered", his wonderful Tabuteau's imitations, countless stories of his work with great conductors and soloists, and, of course, his remarkable oboe playing – all these things were so inspiring to me, I knew that I always had to give it my all. Ralph always talked about "the language of music" – I think that's what made his playing and teaching so special. He was always so full of joy and positive energy, it seemed almost impossible, especially in the last two years of his life. I once asked him why he always seemed so upbeat, he quickly answered: "I am very lucky – I have a wonderful wife, and we both spent our lives in music". Those of us who had the privilege of knowing him, will forever remember his great passion for Music, not just for playing the oboe. In his lessons, Ralph would always use metaphors and comparisons with great singers, string players, pianists, as well as painters, dancers for the sake of finding new ways of communicating the message of great composers through various tone colors and nuances.
Ralph Gomberg devoted his life to bringing beauty and joy to his family, friends, and countless musicians over the past five decades - I know that his passion and kindness will always be in my heart and will continue to inspire me forever.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra