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First Name: Ralph
Last Name: Gomberg
Bio: Gomberg was born in Boston's West End, the youngest of seven children, five of whom went on to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music. His older brother, Robert, was a violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski; brother Harold was, of course, principal oboist for thirty-four years with the New York Philharmonic; a third brother, Leo, was principal trumpet in the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra and the New York City Center Symphony under Bernstein. One of his sisters, Celia, was a violin soloist under contract at NBC while another sister, Edyth, was a cellist who married George Zazofsky, a longtime member of the BSO violin section, and whose son is Peter Zazofsky, the concert violinist. At fourteen, Gomberg became the youngest student ever accepted by the renowned oboe teacher Marcel Tabuteau.At eighteen Gomberg became the first oboist in what was called the All-American Youth Orchestra. Its music director was Leopold Stokowski. Shortly after winning the position, he embarked on the S.S. Brasilia for a two-month tour of South America with Stokowski conducting every concert. Gomberg then recounts getting a call from Eugene Ormandy in 1941. Ormandy had been asked by "some rear admiral" to assemble what became the Philadelphia Navy Yard Band, to play at parades, and the commissioning of aircraft carriers and ships. After a year playing principal oboe in Baltimore, Gomberg then left for Los Angeles to care for his older brother, who was taken seriously ill. While in southern California, he received a call from an aspiring young conductor in New York named Leonard Bernstein. "Lenny was looking for a first oboist for his City Center Orchestra," explained Gomberg. "He hired me on the phone." He also found time to play in the Mutual Broadcasting Orchestra and to found the New York Woodwind Quintet. At the same time, Sydelle Gomberg was an aspiring young ballerina, dancing with the Metropolitan Opera ballet, and at Radio City Music Hall, which, as the only institution offering year-round employment, was then the training ground for dancers. In 1945 she landed a soloist role in Lute Song starring Yul Brynner and Mary Martin (and, Gomberg points out, also featuring a young unknown actress named Nancy Davis, who today goes by her married name, Nancy Reagan). In 1950, two years after their wedding, Gomberg heard of the opening in Boston. "In those days," he explains, "Boston was the only orchestra that provided 52-week-a-year employment. It was definitely the job to have. I was so thrilled to win it."
Source: Journal of the IDRS 26 (1998)