Obituary: Oboe maker Paul Laubin, 88

Posted on: March 31, 2021

“Paul Laubin, a revered oboe maker who was one of the few remaining woodwind artisans to build their instruments by hand—he made so few a year that customers might have had to wait a decade to play one—died on March 1 at his workshop in Peekskill, N.Y. He was 88,” writes Alex Vadukul in Monday’s (3/29) New York Times. “In the world of oboes, his partisans believe, there are Mr. Laubin’s oboes and then there is everything else. He was in his early 20s when he began making oboes with his father, Alfred, who founded A. Laubin Inc. and built his first oboe in 1931.… Oboists in major orchestras … have played Mr. Laubin’s instruments, cherishing their dark, rich tone…. In a dusty workshop … Mr. Laubin crafted his oboes and English horns with almost religious precision. He wore an apron and puffed a cob pipe as he drilled and lathed the grenadilla and rosewood used to make his instruments. (The pipe doubled as a testing device: Mr. Laubin would blow smoke through the instrument’s joints to detect air leaks.) … Over time, the scarcity of Laubin oboes only added to their legend….. On his work table the day he died lay the beginnings of Laubin oboe No. 2,600.”