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Neil Black (28 May 1932 – 14 August 2016)

2:26, 19th August 2016

Neil Black, who has died at the age of 84, was one of the most distinguished post-war British oboists. His poise and elegance as a performer in various guises were heard and appreciated worldwide.

Over the years, Black was principal oboe of four orchestras: the London Philharmonic Orchestra (he played under the likes of Steinberg, Monteux and Boult), the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Mozart Players. In addition, Black was frequently to be heard as a concerto soloist and chamber ensemble performer of the highest quality.

His recorded concerto performances embraced Mozart, Vivaldi (with Menuhin), Vaughan Williams and Richard Strauss (with Barenboim). Chamber music recordings include works by the likes of Handel, Mozart and Beethoven.

Black also taught at the Royal Academy of Music (as a professor) and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He received an OBE in 1989.

Born in Birmingham, Black was one of the earliest members of the National Youth Orchestra, founded in 1948. After gaining an Oxford degree in history he took some private lessons with the legendary Terence MacDonagh, who then began using him in the oboe section of the RPO. By 1958, Black was principal oboe of the LPO. Thereafter he made the decision that the large orchestra was not his natural habitat. In the course of a long career he met the challenge of utilising the developing awareness of period performance practice via his chosen given of the modern oboe.

In recent years Black took on the role of musical director of the Kirckman Concert Society. To the delight of very many he thereby used his lengthy experience to benefit young musicians making their way in the profession.

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