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College Colleagues

Walfrid Kujala | October 2018

Editor’s Note: Often you learn as much from fellow college students as from the teachers. During my studies at Eastman my colleagues included Susan Levitin, Marjorie Clark, Philip Swanson, Nancy Howe, Paul Brittain, and Leone Buyse. Joseph Mariano kept a small black book where each fall he carefully noted the names of the incoming class. He often referred to when Robert Willoughby, Doriot Dwyer, and Walfrid Kujala were students as being a golden age of the flute. Walfrid Kujala shares his memories of his classmates. 

    I entered the Eastman School in 1942, but due to military service, I graduated not in 1946, but in 1948. I originally had been accepted to study at Curtis with William Kincaid, but because of WWII, the Curtis Institute was temporarily eliminating the woodwind and brass departments due to war-related endowment income losses. Eastman came to my rescue. Oddly, this same thing happened to Julius Baker ten years before in 1932. Baker had been accepted at Curtis, but due to the heavy endowment losses in the Great Depression, he was denied admission for a year. He studied for one year at Eastman with Leonardo De Lorenzo (1875-1962), and then went to Curtis with Kincaid in 1933. 
    De Lorenzo was an Italian-born flutist and the first flute professor at the Eastman School of Music. He was a strong advocate of the open G sharp flute mechanism and required all of his students to switch to that system. However, the only student who successfully rebelled against that requirement was Julius Baker! 
    Baker (1915-2003) played in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago symphonies before becoming principal flute of the New York Philharmonic in 1965. He held this position for 18 years. He taught on the faculties of The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Carnegie Mellon. In 1948 he gave the first U.S. performance of the Jacques Ibert Flute Concerto with the CBS Symphony in a nationwide broadcast. (Marcel Moyse, to whom Ibert dedicated the concerto, gave the first performance in Paris in 1934.) 
    I first met Baker (via telephone) when he called me in 1954 to congratulate me on my new job as assistant principal flute with the Chicago Symphony. He spoke to me in Finnish (my boyhood language learned from my immigrant parents), so of course, I asked Baker how he had learned the Finnish language. Much to my surprise, I found out that when he was a young boy in Cleveland, he lived near a Finnish neighborhood and had picked up the language from his many Finnish playmates. At that time, Cleveland and many other northeast Ohio cities like Warren (my birthplace) had large Finnish immigrant populations. 
    Robert Willoughby (1921-2018) was in the class of 1942. He went on to play assistant principal flute in the Cleveland Orchestra and principal flute in the Cincinnati Symphony. He taught at Oberlin College, Peabody Institute and the Longy School of Music of Bard College. He also became a Baroque flute enthusiast and helped pave the way in its American revival.  
    Doriot Anthony Dwyer (b. 1922) was in the class of 1943. According to her bio, while at Eastman she encountered her first gender bias. Dwyer was permitted “to play first chair in certain symphonic band selections, but was never selected as first chair for the student orchestra.” Upon graduation she played second flute in the National Symphony and Los Angeles Philhar-monic before playing principal flute in the Boston Symphony from 1952-1990. She taught on the faculty of Boston University. 
    I will never forget the time when I performed the Walter Piston Sonata on a freshman class recital in Kilbourn Hall in 1942. Dwyer came up to me afterward and complimented me effusively. That really made my day! It turned out that we both became great fans of Walter Piston, not only performing his sonata many times but also his quintet for flute and strings (the scherzo of which is a great triple-tonguing etude). Some years later Dwyer performed the world premiere of the Piston Flute Concerto with the Boston Symphony, and she also made the first recording of it with the London Symphony, along with the Zwilich Concerto and Bernstein’s Halil. It is one of the favorite recordings in my collection. (Piston’s ballet score, The Incredible Flutist, is also a delight.)   
    Willoughby, along with Dwyer, were the two flutists at Eastman who were my role models. Being four and three years older than me, and both of them possessing a very friendly and caring demeanor, I felt that I could approach them with questions, or ask them for advice, at any time – and I certainly did. They were my heroes! 
    My roommate at Eastman in 1942-43 was Allen Jensen from the class of 1945. He eventually played principal flute in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. 
    Another classmate was John Thomas (1922-2012) from the class of 1947. John and I played in the Rochester Philharmonic with Joseph Mariano for two years. John played second flute, and I was on piccolo. Then he went to the San Antonio Symphony as principal flute. In 1954 when I went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal flute, John came back to Rochester to take my place in the Rochester Philharmonic. He taught for many years in the Eastman Preparatory Department. His music library was given to the Rochester Flute Association and is housed at the Hochstein School of Music & Dance. 
    Murray Panitz (1925-1988) from the class of 1949 played principal flute in the Philadelphia Orchestra. While at Eastman, Panitz decided he was going to change his major from Music Education to Applied Flute. Everett Gates, his advisor, asked, “And, what do you want to do?” to which Panitz replied, “I am going to be principal flute of the Philadelphia Orchestra.” And by golly he did, from 1961 to 1989. 
    The class of 1950 included Albert Saurini (1928-2015) and George Hambrecht (1924-2011). Saurini had been born in Rochester and played principal flute with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1953 to 1989. Hambrecht, who was from Syracuse and had studied with his father who was a flutist in the Syracuse Symphony, served as principal flutist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1962-1990. 
    Before that he was second flute with the Cleveland Orchestra under Geroge Szell for seven years, and prior to that we were colleagues in the Rochester Philharmonic flute section for two years. I was always impressed by his limpid tone and thought of it as a good model for my own sonic improvement. Hambrecht was a fascinating conversationalist, and for many years was co-host of a weekly radio show, Goes to the Pops on Cincinnati’s WMKV. He was also a licensed pilot. 
    By the way, Julius Baker was also a pilot. During the two years (1951-53) that he was principal flute of the Chicago Symphony, he would often commute between Chicago and New York, piloting his brand new Ercoupe monoplane in order to fulfill his Bach Aria Group concert commitments in New York and other cities. 
    And lastly, from the class of 1951, is Roland Moritz (1926-2013) who played second flute in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His father was the orchestra’s longtime principal bassoonist. 
    Among the flutists in these classes between 1942 and 1951 there was of course a friendly rivalry, but besides some of the invaluable artistry that rubbed off on us from Joseph Mariano’s inspiring teaching, we also learned a great deal from each other. 
    And finally, I would also like to add that over the many years of my own teaching experience, I have learned much from my students. And for that I remain forever grateful.