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First Name: Gwydion
Last Name: Brooke
URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/04/06/
Bio: Gwydion Brooke, the bassoonist who has died aged 93, was the last survivor of the exceptionally gifted team of wind players assembled by Sir Thomas Beecham when he founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946. Among Brooke's colleagues were Dennis Brain (horn), Terence MacDonagh (oboe), Gerald Jackson (flute) and Jack Brymer (clarinet). After Beecham's death in 1961, Brooke became principal bassoonist in Walter Legge's Philharmonia Orchestra, where he remained until his retirement in 1979. His tone was highly individual, as can be heard on his recording of Weber's concerto, made in 1947 with Malcolm Sargent conducting, and on his 1958 recording, with Beecham, of the Mozart concerto. He also recorded JC Bach's concerto and his own astonishing transcription of Mozart's G major violin concerto. It was hearing Archie Camden's recording of the Mozart concerto, made in 1926 using a German instrument, that led Brooke in 1930 to travel to Manchester, where Camden was principal with the Halle, to meet him. He returned with a new bassoon made by Adler, which he played for the next 49 years. He would not change it for a new one although by the 1960s he had to immerse it nightly in a bath to test for leaks. So many bits of it were replaced that no one else could play it. When it was stolen in 1979 - although it was of no use to anyone else - he refused offers of replacements and gave up playing. Brooke was born Frederick James Gwydion Holbrooke at Kentford, Suffolk, on February 16 1912. He was the fourth of five children of the now neglected composer Josef Holbrooke, and when he was in his twenties he adopted the surname Brooke in order not to trade on his father's reputation. His father encouraged him to play the saxophone, but in 1925 bought him a French-system bassoon and found him a teacher. At the age of 16 he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. After a year he left to gain experience in the Hastings Municipal Orchestra conducted by his father's friend, Basil Cameron, and in the winter played under Cameron at Harrogate. He returned to the Academy to complete his studies in 1930. In 1932 Beecham founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra and appointed Brooke second bassoon to John Alexandra. Two years later he moved to the BBC Scottish Orchestra as principal, a position he held for four years. When war was declared in 1939 he joined the Army. He saw action at El Alamein, Tobruk and in the Italian campaign. On demobilisation, not having played an instrument for six years, Brooke joined the Liverpool Philharmonic. When Beecham came as a guest conductor, he was about to form the RPO and offered Brooke the post of principal bassoon. After Legge tried to disband the Philharmonia in 1964, Brooke was one of the players who formed a self-governing council to preserve the orchestra as the New Philharmonia. Although a man of few words, he never shied away from making himself heard. In the early 1970s, during a troubled period when Lorin Maazel was the principal conductor, Brooke gave him his marching orders, telling him: "Mr Maazel, we all wish you well in Cleveland." In retirement, Brooke served as a trustee of the Beecham Trust and followed his hobby of repairing Renault cars. He also edited the scores and promoted recordings of his father's music. He died on March 27. Gwydion Brooke married, in 1961, Jean Graham; they had two sons.
Source: Weekly Telegraph, U.K.