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The First American Oboist and His School
2010 was an anniversary year for the renowned conservatory school. The school owes its fame not only to the fact that its student, cellist Sergey Antonov, won a gold medal at the latest Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow; professional musicians and other music lovers have been paying close attention to the accomplishments of this prestigious conservatory’s younger students. Since my son started his lessons at the school (mainly playing saxophone and cello on Saturdays), the school has celebrated its eightieth, eighty fifth, and, finally, in 2010, its ninety fifth anniversary!
For almost twenty years, the role of the school’s principal belonged to a talented teacher, a professional musician and a charming man, pianist Victor Rosenbaum. A few years ago, Mr. Rosenbaum had decided to devote himself to teaching and concert performances,
The school’s tradition dictates that a number of excellent free concerts are to be given every year. We attend those concerts regularly, especially the ones given by the jazz department under the direction of the pianist Peter Cassino, who also performs in these concerts, and the classical or contemporary music performances, or even the ones dedicated to the history of dance.
The history of the Longy school begins in 1898, when a thirty-year old oboist George Longy, the graduate of the Paris conservatory and winner of its many competitions, arrived to Boston. He was born in Abberville, France. He started his musical training at the age of five, beginning with violin and piano, and finally choosing oboe as his favorite instrument. At the age of fourteen, George Longy entered the Paris Conservatory. He received his first prize for a musical competition in 1886. Upon his arrival to Boston, he became one of the first non-German musicians in the orchestra. Unusual instrument for Americans, the oboe very soon won the hearts of the audience, and not only in Boston. The most renowned music critics dedicated their enthusiastic reviews to the first oboist of America, the artist and a virtuoso.
Less than a year later, Longy became the conductor of a small ten-member brass orchestra. In 1915, Longy began his teaching career. Together with his friend Martin Loeffler, a famous violinist, he developed a program and planned the opening of a music school. At first, the school was located in Boston, and only later it was moved to Cambridge, near Harvard Square and the world-famous university.
Thanks to both his teaching and performing abilities, George Longy was able to attract a lot of attention to the school, where his daughter Renee, a graduate of a French Conservatory, a brilliant pianist and theorist, was now employed. The violinist George Michel, Longy’s future son-in-law, also taught at the school.
After celebrating the school’s tenth anniversary, Longy returned to France and settled in the suburbs of Abberville. His daughter Renee served as the head of the school for a while. The famous tradition of free concerts, started in 1931, was upheld by the then-principal Minna Holl and continued by Victor Rosenbaum and all the subsequent principals of the Longy conservatory.
The building that currently houses the school was built in 1889. Edwin Abbott, the building’s owner, constructed the Cambridge’s first brick building out of fear of fires. The school moved into the building in 1937. Another private building was recently added to the school property.
It is in 1937 that the first Russian musicians appeared among the Longy staff, for instance, Olga Averin, a pianist and a singer, Currently, the staff includes several well-known musicians from the former Soviet Union -- Sophia Vilker, ASophia Sogland, Dana Pomerantz-Mazurkiewicz, Anton Belov, Lubov Shlyan, Ludmila Lifson, Svetlana Peyller and others.