Saturday, December 15, 2007

Walter Green, great bassoonist dies at 82

We lost a revered member of our bassoon family on December 3rd in Mendocino, California. Walter Green passed away quietly within view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean surrounded by his family and friends.

At age 82, Walter still had a sparkle in his eyes and a mission to educate the world about classical music. He had been ill with Parkinson's for several years, but was excellently cared for by his lovely wife, Polly.

A poignant service and burial were held in Mendocino on Wednesday, December 5th, with the ocean breeze carrying the scent of marine life as Walter's life was remembered and celebrated. Those in attendance, including myself, were awed by the amazing life Walter had lived and the many people whose lives he touched.

Walter retired from the San Francisco Symphony over 20 years ago, where he was principal bassoonist. He was a founding member of the Mendocino Music Festival and was popular in his coastal town for the success of the festival and for being a popular radio personality. On his radio program, he exposed the breadth of his knowledge of selected musical pieces and the history surrounding them. His hope was to illuminate classical music in a way that would inspire his listeners to attend concerts and support the musical arts.

Most people did not know that Walter was a holocaust survivor who lost members of his family in Europe during World War II. He was fortunate to have safely fled Germany as a child; and he later worked diligently to become an American citizen. Walter never took his new country for granted.

Those who remember Walter in the San Francisco Symphony know that he fought tooth and nail for a number of the benefits that the musicians now enjoy in their contract. Musically, he set the bar high for himself and his colleagues; and some considered him tough for this reason. But Walter was also a man of compassion, generosity and selflessness. This was evident in the funeral service on Wednesday, as person after person spoke about Walter -- his doctor, a conductor, students, neighbors, friends, musicians who had traveled 3 hours from San Francisco, his family, those who listened to his radio program, and so on.Fortunately, before Walter Green passed away, he was able to put his fascinating life story into a book entitled" Golden Tones ". We join Walter's family in celebrating his life and our loss.

Rufus & Vida Olivier and Family

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Old English Christmas Feast! Rufus Olivier Jr. Honorary Chairperson

Wassail! Drink Hail! This year the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers are pleased to announce Rufus Olivier Jr. as their honorary chairperson. Come support this wonderful organization while getting into the holiday spirit!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Award for Woodwinds and Brass

For Further Information Or Applications, Contact:
Catherine Tonn, Competiton Coordinator
3366 La Mesa Dr. #9
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 593.1327

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Trumpet book for Bassoon?

An Anthology of Lyric Pieces for Trumpet and other instuments is one of the most helpful studies I have come across.
Firs,t it’s all about playing songs, and that’s the reason we play, to play melodies. This book will help you understand a phrase, control the breath and intonation. . It is in treble clef but that is also good to be able to read in treble clef .The book is filled with operatic songs and intermezzos. Author Jay Rizzetto is one of the bay areas leading trumpet players/ teacher. We have had conversations on the merits of just playing a tune. After all that’s what music is all about!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Auditons for Contra Costa Youth Orchestra

2007- 2008 Season

Play Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker

Perform In Disneyland!!!

The Contra Costa Youth Orchestra (CCYO) in comprised of talented middle and high school-age instrumentalist from throughout the county and beyond. CCYO rehearses at Miramonte High School in Orinda, Tuesdays 4:30- 6:30 pm beginning September 25, 2007. Formal concerts are presented in December and May, culminating with a gala benefit performance at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Other performances and activities are scheduled throughout the season.


For all orchestral instruments

Contact: Greg Mazmanian, conductor


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Doctor Killed Beethoven

Pathologist: Doctor Killed Beethoven
By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria - Did someone kill Beethoven? A Viennese pathologist claims the composer's physician did _ inadvertently overdosing him with lead in a case of a cure that went wrong.
Other researchers are not convinced, but there is no controversy about one fact: The master had been a very sick man years before his death in 1827.
Previous research determined that Beethoven had suffered from lead poisoning, first detecting toxic levels of the metal in his hair and then, two years ago, in bone fragments. Those findings strengthened the belief that lead poisoning may have contributed _ and ultimately led _ to his death at age 57.
But Viennese forensic expert Christian Reiter claims to know more after months of painstaking work applying CSI-like methods to strands of Beethoven's hair.
He says his analysis, published last week in the Beethoven Journal, shows that in the final months of the composer's life, lead concentrations in his body spiked every time he was treated by his doctor, Andreas Wawruch, for fluid inside the abdomen. Those lethal doses permeated Beethoven's ailing liver, ultimately killing him, Reiter told The Associated Press.
"His death was due to the treatments by Dr. Wawruch," said Reiter, head of the Department of Forensic Medicine at Vienna's Medical University. "Although you cannot blame Dr. Wawruch _ how was he to know that Beethoven already had a serious liver ailment?"
Nobody did back then.
Only through an autopsy after the composer's death in the Austrian capital on March 26, 1827, were doctors able to establish that Beethoven suffered from cirrhosis of the liver as well as edemas of the abdomen. Reiter says that in attempts to ease the composer's suffering, Wawruch repeatedly punctured the abdominal cavity _ and then sealed the wound with a lead-laced poultice.
Although lead's toxicity was known even then, the doses contained in a treatment balm "were not poisonous enough to kill someone if he would have been healthy," Reiter said. "But what Dr. Wawruch clearly did not know that his treatment was attacking an already sick liver, killing that organ."
Even before the edemas developed, Wawruch noted in his diary that he treated an outbreak of pneumonia months before Beethoven's death with salts containing lead, which aggravated what researchers believe was an existing case of lead poisoning.
But, said Reiter, it was the repeated doses of the lead-containing cream, administered by Wawruch in the last weeks of Beethoven's life, that did in the composer.
Analysis of several hair strands showed "several peaks where the concentration of lead rose pretty massively" on the four occasions between Dec. 5, 1826, and Feb. 27, 1827, when Beethoven himself documented that he had been treated by Wawruch for the edema, said Reiter. "Every time when his abdomen was punctured ... we have an increase of the concentration of lead in the hair."
Such claims intrigue others who have researched the issue.
"His data strongly suggests that Beethoven was subjected to significant lead exposures over the last 111 days of his life and that this lead may have been in the very medicines applied by his doctor," said Bill Walsh, who led the team at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago that found large amounts of lead in Beethoven's bone fragments. That research two years ago confirmed the cause of years of debilitating disease that likely led to his death _ but did not tie his demise to Wawruch.
"I believe that Beethoven's death may have been caused by this application of lead-containing medicines to an already severely lead-poisoned man," Walsh said.
Still, he added, samples from hair analysis are not normally considered as reliable as from bone, which showed high levels of lead concentration over years, instead of months.
With hair, "you have the issue of contamination from outside material, shampoos, residues, weathering problems. The membranes on the outside of the hair tend to deteriorate," he said, suggesting more research is needed on the exact composition of the medications given Beethoven in his last months of his life.
As for what caused the poisoning even before Wawruch's treatments, some say it was the lead-laced wine Beethoven drank. Others speculate that as a young man he drank water with high concentrations of lead at a spa.
"We still don't know the ultimate cause," Reiter said. "But he was a very sick man _ for years before his death."
The Beethoven Journal is published by the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University in California.

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Profiler from Main Tool Room

Bassoon Profiler
As a result of our development work with the oboe gouge machine we were introduced to a bassoon instructor at a major eastern music college. We have again taken the inaccuracies out of the older models and have standardized the design to produce a consistently highly accurate machine that has had raves of “best reed I’ve ever had”.

Maine Tool Room8 Washington Ave.Scarborough, Maine 04074207-883-2455

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Santa Rosa Symphony Contra Bassoon Audition

Dear Bassoonist/Contrabassoonist,

I hope you are having a great summer!

While the Santa Rosa Symphony was undergoing the search for its new music director, Bruno Ferrandis, auditions for vacancies in the Orchestra were postponed. There is now some catching up to do, and auditions for the following Permanent Vacancies have been scheduled and advertised in the International Musician:

CONTRABASSOON/UTILITY BASSOON – 35 Services; Audition Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
SECTION VIOLA – 55 Services; 1 Permanent Chair; Audition Date: Monday, October 1, 2007
PRINCIPAL HORN – 60 Services; Audition Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2007
SECTION CELLO – 55 Services; 2 Permanent Chairs; Audition Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2007
SECTION 1st VIOLIN – 55 Services; 3 Permanent Chairs; Audition Date: Thursday, October 4, 2007

Following is additional audition information:

2007-2008 Wage Scale: Principal = $143.50; Assistant Principal = $132.02; Section = $114.80; Pension = 8%.
All auditions will be held at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa, California.
If a position is won by a SRS Musician, runner-up(s) may be offered the resulting opening(s).
To apply, please send a one-page resume and a $25 audition deposit by September 12, 2007, to:
Santa Rosa Symphony – Auditions
50 Santa Rosa Avenue, Suite 410, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Fax: 707-546-0460; Email:
A list of audition repertoire and other relevant information will be mailed to the applicant upon receipt of resume and deposit.
Deposits will be refunded at the time of the audition.

For your convenience, the Contrabassoon/Utility Bassoon audition repertoire list is attached with this e-mail message, and information is being posted on the SRS website: Preliminary auditions are planned to begin the morning of Wednesday, 26 September, followed by finals in the afternoon/evening, depending on how many musicians take the audition. Detailed information regarding the scheduling of Musicians’ individual auditions will soon be determined and made available.

Thank you if you have already submitted your resume and audition deposit expressing your intent to audition for the Santa Rosa Symphony. If not, I hope you will consider auditioning for the SRS. Additional information about the SRS can be seen on its website at Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,


Tim Beswick
Director of Artistic Operations

Santa Rosa Symphony
50 Santa Rosa Avenue, Suite 410
Santa Rosa, California 95404

Phone: 707-546-7097, ext. 211
Cell: 408-445-8416
Fax: 707-546-0460

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grand Teton Music Festival Chamber Music

Lynn Harrell & Rufus Olivier play the Mozart duo for Bassoon and Cello at the Grand Teton Music festival . August 08, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shipping a bassoon

First wrap each part of the bassoon in tissue paper and put back in case, fill any empty space with bubble wrap so the horn does not move, test this by gently rocking the closed case to make sure nothing is moving. It is not recommended to leave bocals in the case. If you do ,make sure they are taped shut inside the holders, you don’t want them to get loose and cause damage to the horn or the bocal. Next you will need two 14” boxes (you can get them at Kinko’s or Fox to put the bassoon case in); you should have about 4 inches round the entire bassoon case. To do this put bubble wrap or foam popcorn in bottom of the first box 4 inches from bottom, put bassoon in, standing on end, make sure you have about 4 inches around bassoon case and fill in the space with popcorn, now you have half the bassoon covered. Place the next box over this making sure the top end is open then fill with foam popcorn, connect the bottom and top box around the middle with tape. Once the top box is filled ,seal and you are ready to ship. If you have insurance on the bassoon then that is all you need. If you insure the bassoon thru the post office it will cost a lot!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Midsummer Mozart Festival Program I – July 19 – 22

Divertimento No.11 for Oboe, two Horns and Strings, K251
Piano Concerto N. 22 in E flat major, K482 - Janina Fialkowska, pianist
Bassoon Concerto in B flat major, K191 - Rufus Olivier, bassoon
Symphony N. 34 in C major, K338

Friday, May 4, 2007

Bassoon Talk

I have set up this blog for the benefit of bassoon students that have questions concerning any aspect of bassoon playing. I do not have all the answers but as a community, perhaps we will all benefit. No question is too silly to ask. With the help of other bassoonists we can find a solution to your problem, or at least discuss all of the solutions as a community. All are welcome at every stage of playing from beginner to professionals. Feel free to post your upcoming concerts and recitals, this site is for you!

Rufus Olivier Jr.