In memoriam: Former Chicago Symphony oboist Ray Still, 94

Posted on: March 13, 2014

Wednesday’s (3/12) Chicago Tribune has an appreciation by John von Rhein of oboist Ray Still, “famous for being one of the best in his field, one of the finest and longest-tenured orchestral oboe players of all time. He played oboe in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for an astonishing 40 years, 39 of them as principal oboe. He served with distinction under four CSO music directors, from Fritz Reiner to Daniel Barenboim, until his retirement in 1993. A celebrated symphonic and chamber musician, soloist and educator who taught and coached several generations of American oboe players, Still died early Wednesday, the day of his 94th birthday.”  Von Rhein writes that “at least two factors set his playing apart. One was a distinctively rich, mellow, singing tone whose expressive character Still was able to color the way a great singer does.… The other factor was a phenomenal breath control that allowed him to sustain long musical phrases on a seamless stream of air.” Born in Elwood, Indiana, Still began his career at nineteen with the Kansas City Philharmonic. Following Army service during World War II he played for two years in the Buffalo Philharmonic, then spent four years with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra before auditioning for Reiner in 1953.  

Posted March 13, 2014