are loving tributes to Harry Shulman.
you would like to share your memories of Mr. Shulman or your
comments on his playing or music, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and we will post them here.
Miller, oboist, Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra
As a budding oboe player in 1960, I had no concept of the
oboe until I bought the lovely "Music for Oboe and Orchestra"
album featuring Harry Shulman, oboist. This recording literally
changed my life. I was so mesmerized by his magnificent sound
that I practiced two to five hours a day trying to emulate that
a scholarship on the oboe in 1963 to the University of Southern
Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Although I never met Mr. Shulman,
I owe this scholarship to his influence on my oboe playing.
1971, I called Mr. Shulman while he was teaching at the Oberlin
Conservatory shortly before he passed away and thanked him for
his marvelous influence on my life. He was literally speechless
because he had never met me. I will never forget him telling
me that the Kapp recording was made in one take with no editing.
I didn't realize how significant this
was back then, but now I stand
more in awe of this great oboist who so greatly influenced my
to this day after forty-three years of oboe playing, I have
heard no finer oboist than Mr. Harry Shulman. His influence
will be forever in my heart and playing.
Kovach, oboist, Temple University Music Prep Faculty
I was fortunate to have a year of study with Harry Shulman
during one season, 1962-63. He was principal oboe with the Pittsburgh
Symphony, William Steinberg, conductor. I was a very raw freshman,
never having heard a full orchestra live, let alone having had
consistent lessons with a "real" oboist. But, I had
an insatiable desire. Along with all of that, I had a hidden
secret: Harry Shulman had grown up in my hometown of Rochester,
NY, and was close friends with a cousin of mine, also an oboist.
As my aunt put it, to allay my fears of starting my true studies,
"Harry Shulman ate enough of my chocolate cake!",
said with a delightful smile. This familial background
I took pains to not inform Mr. Shulman of until much later in
the second semester, because I wanted to be my own person to
him, no favors, no considerations. I also came with an almost
unusable Cabart that insisted on living a life of its own, going
out of adjustment ...
appeared to me to be the ideal of a gentleman. His dress, his
mannerisms, his speech, his genteelness. For the first in my
life, I had met somebody who actually used the word "behooves"
in language! His eyes twinkled, his nature was kind and gentle.
He never got angry, but never backed away from his ideals. He
treated me with as much consideration and attention as if I
were a major player already.
on the basics: scales, long tones, intervals, Barret. And just
because it makes me feel secure, I still refer to all of his
markings. I still have every little piece of scratch paper he
wrote for me...
1963, Charles Munch came to Pittsburgh to guest conduct an all-French
program. Mr. Shulman was practically dancing with glee and anticipation.
"An all French program with a French conductor!" He
was almost childlike in his pleasure. Another time, he and Arthur
Kubey, Pittsburgh's principle bassoonist had performed Alex
Haieff' Three Bagatelles and, as a favor, had allowed me to
record it in a practice room on my portable Webcor tape recorder.
...The tape became tangled, turned, and ruined! I went to these
gentlemen, so ashamed and fearful, to explain what had happened.
I could tell they were not happy, but they agreed to record
it again, with much teasing towards me, but NEVER any sharp
or unkind words.
was a man of ethics and morality of the highest order. After
he left Pittsburgh, I was having terrible reed problems, but
too young and naive to know that, for double reeders, that was
a way of life. I called him a couple of years later to beg him
to sell me a few reeds that I could play on and try to emulate.
He turned me down, gently, saying that it would be unethical
towards my present teacher to do something like that. But, after
I was no longer studying with somebody, I could always turn
to him. He was right and he was true to his word.
quoted him so often to my own students, particularly his remark
that, "If we want to play something 90% well, we must know
it 120%," said with an almost gleeful challenge. Those
of us whose lives he touched, he did so in more than just how
to blow, what scales to play. He brought us to the oboe - to
the music - with such sensitivity as he treated us. He taught
that the oboe was the means to the end, which was the music.
I've missed him since May of 1963. That will never change.
Salzman, Retired School District Director of Music and High
School Orchestra and Chorus Director currently on the faculty
of Westfield State College, Massachusetts.
I studied with Harry for only one year, from October 1959 to
May, 1960. I was referred to him by Robert Bloom, for whom I
played and he decided I wasn't ready for him. Harry was teaching
at the Dalcroze School on Manhattan's upper east side, which
was a 1 1/2 hour subway ride from my home. I had studied with
a local teacher who played the oboe, french horn, and was a
junior high band director. Just prior to my first lesson with
Harry I had successfully auditioned for the New York All-City
Orchestra. He congratulated me and asked me to resign, because
I was to play long tones for at least three or four months and
learn to FOCUS my sound. I was taken aback by this, having been
the only student from my high school in twelve years to be accepted
into the All-City Orchestra. I did stay in the orchestra and
saw my sound become richer and more focused.
I also remember
being told to practice in front of my bed, so in the case that
I became dizzy, I had something to fall back on.
after our lesson I went ice skating in Central Park, was mugged,
and my oboe stolen. Harry aranged for a loaner instrument and
a few weeks later met me at Alfred Laubin's shop to select a
new instrument. He tried at least five before he declared that
this is the one for me. It was a wonderful instrument (AL232),
and if anyone knows its whereabouts I would be very curious.
It was in
1960 that Harry moved to Pittsburgh and I lost my greatest oboe
teacher, a man of compassion, understanding, and a kind of gentle
firmness. Stuart's account of his first lessons brought back
many fond memories and I deeply thank him for it.
At age 15, I was lucky enough to have heard Harry's "Music
for Oboe and Orchestra." I recognized that this was the
way the oboe should sound.
When I read
that he lived on Long Island, I called all the Harry Shulmans
in the book until I found him. He set up a lesson with me in
the Carnegie Hall Studio. My first six lessons consisted of
playing one note - a middle of the staff C#. Each week, I came
to my lesson and played that one note, trusting that he knew
what he was doing. At age 15, all I wanted to do was play fast!
He said that we wouldn't progress until I learned how to hold
a note for 15 seconds without it wavering.
explained the fundamentals of oboe playing in those first six
lessons - how to warm up and why, how to play low and high,
soft and loud, and how to start the note predictably so that
the conductor wouldn't fire me.
My bus rides
to NYC became a safe haven. I had my mentor, someone I wanted
to emulate. He treated me with a respect that I had never known
before. For the first time in my life, I was doing something
I loved. I was "on track," as Mr. Shulman would say
By the sixth
lesson I had the ability to hold a tone straight, start it when
I was supposed to, and I knew how the embouchure worked. The
seventh lesson he made a reed for me and let me play it. I wish
I could have seen the expression on my face then. Playing his
reed was like playing a recorder, it was so easy! Yet it could
play loud and soft with a chocolatey-velvet tone built into
it. I remember all this so vividly to this day 33 years later.
On that bus ride home, writing in my small notebook with the
teddy bear on front, I felt like the meaning of life was given
Soon we were working on cycles: playing that C# very loud and
then slowing diminuendoing to a whisper and holding it angelically
pure. Then on to intervals. He would play a G and I would match
it, then slur up a perfect 5th until it was perfectly in tune,
then slur back down to match the G he was holding. Then we did
it on an F on the upper staff, slurring to a high C.
very patient with me. He put me on a sound diet,
only listening to those oboe tones that I liked. After a few
months we started our typical lesson format: long tones on C#,
cycles, intervals, scales, Barret Oboe method, a solo, then
an excerpt. I still teach my students this same way.
dearest part of his teaching, and I still hear his voice over
my shoulder, was when he used the word focus. He
would say focus the tone, center that note, find that pure center
to the sound. Perhaps it was in the way he said it that gave
it the impact that it did, as if there was something under the
surface that wasn't being revealed yet. He used that word every
lesson, until it became a mystical key to the meaning of the
oboe. It wasnt until the jolt of his death that I realized
that it was also the key to living. That word became a mantra
for me for living my life. He taught me not just music, but
translated music to life, the concept of performing music crossed
over to performing life.
imagine what my life would be like if Mr. Shulman didnt
Robert Weiner - Professor of Oboe, University of Miami
After reading the tributes to Mr. Shulman on this page, I found
myself wanting to share in the expression of his influence on
me. Ive known Stu Dunkel for many years and through Stus
generosity I listened to many hours of Shulman performances.
Ive read Jackie Kovachs writings through the IDRS.
I believe I met Wayne Miller in New York back in the 70s
or 80s. Bob Salzman was my first Oboe teacher. Anyone
who has ever taught or studied knows the impact made by the
initial teacher. Hey Bob, its what Ive done with
my life. Seeing his words here after so many years brings forth
thoughts from the start of a journey that will never end. The
common thread here is Harry Shulman, so heres to Harry
was a voice that penetrated Oboe souls so completely that it
defined the sound of the instrument for many of us. No mere
beautiful tone. His recording, "Music for Oboe and Orchestra",
has remained a favorite of mine ever since my first teacher,
Bob Salzman (contributor to this same page), first loaned it
to me so I could hear this special sound. Through my years of
study with some of the really great Oboists in this country
I always retained this sound in my head. His place as a major
Oboist grew for me as I heard more of his solo recordings and
performance tapes from Aspen and the Pittsburgh Symphony. The
combination of wood and chocolate was always in perfect balance
- pure focused tone - regardless of register or dynamic. Never
a sagging note. Remarkable, too, is the fact that everyone who
ever spoke to me about Harry Shulman had only the highest respect
and affection for him, and this included a few very jaded, cynical
characters. Although I never met him I have to say that he has
influenced me greatly through the example of his recorded performance.
So, when I say, "that sounds like an Oboe to me",
you know what my standard is. It was defined by a quality that
settled in my Oboe soul a long time ago.