Professor James Caldwell

Oboist and early music champion

Earle Dumler, principal oboe of the Los Angeles Opera, describes James Caldwell as "the greatest American oboist of my generation . . . Not only was his playing wonderfully elegant, he was truly a class act." Caldwell was also, from 1971, a Professor of Oboe at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he trained many leading oboists.

His interest in his art extended well beyond the traditional boundaries. It was in the late Sixties, while he was principal oboist at the National Symphony Orchestra, that Caldwell and his wife, the cellist Catharina Meints, became interested in the Baroque era and, although both had been trained on modern instruments, in their spare time learned to play the period equivalents. Caldwell had taken up the viola da gamba and with his wife went to Basle in Switzerland to study with August Wenzinger, one of the most celebrated teachers of the instrument. The couple began to collect period instruments.

In 1971, they moved to Ohio, where Caldwell was appointed Professor of Oboe and Meints joined the Cleveland Orchestra, and the following summer, at Oberlin, they founded the Baroque Performance Institute (BPI), the first American summer school for singers and instrumentalists to study and perform early music on period instruments. They invited Wenzinger to direct the three-week programme - which is now in its 34th year.

Caldwell was born in 1938 in Gladewater, East Texas, the son of a stationmaster. He showed very early musical ability and had his first lessons on the piano. He also possessed a fine voice and sang as a treble soloist. At 13 he had his first lessons on the oboe and decided that this was to be his instrument.

He was educated at Gladewater High School and during the summer holidays attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. In 1957 Caldwell entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with John de Lancic, principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Caldwell went on to serve as principal oboist of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia. He was also oboist and soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, soloist with the Casals Festival Orchestra and the Chicago Little Symphony. He gave recitals at Carnegie Hall and the Town Hall in New York. He was a fine chamber music player, performing with groups including the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble, the Oberlin Woodwind Quintet and the Soni Ventorum Quintet. He frequently gave concerts at the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at Aston Magna, a foundation dedicated to early music and its cultural context.

At Oberlin, such was his reputation as a teacher that, from the time when he took up his appointment on the faculty in 1971, there was a threefold increase in the number of prospective oboe students. He was admired by his colleagues for his extraordinary musicianship and range of artistic expertise. The gamba player Mary Anne Ballard says:

He built a master harpsichord of three keyboards while living in the Puerto Rican jungle and playing oboe with the Casals Festival. He amassed and oversaw the meticulous restoration of perhaps the greatest collection of violas da gamba, carving bridges and performing other maintenance tasks himself, as well as becoming a quietly virtuoso player and performing as continuo accompanist and duet partner with his wife.

Jim Caldwell was also an avid collector of art nouveau glass and furniture, was skilled in stained glass, jewellery-making and bonsai cultivation, and became an expert on computer art and musical composition using synthesisers. He was passionate about everything he did, from playing Liverpool Rummy - which became an almost violent experience with him at the table - to crafting the finest oboe reeds.

Caldwell's discography includes orchestral recordings on RCA and Columbia Records and chamber music recordings for the Lyrichord, Desto, Cambridge, Phoenix, Gasparo, Vox and Smithsonian labels. A reissue of recordings he made throughout the last 40 years, on modern as well as baroque oboe, comes this year on Boston Records - Building Castles in the Sky.

Margaret Campbell

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star