Monday, November 19, 2007

Harry Smyles (1918-2003), African American Oboist, Helped Launch Symphony of the New World

[Oboist Harry Smyles with his son in the foreground]

When African American oboist Harry Smyles died in 2003, Andante quoted Ben Mattison's article on his life in The Plain Dealer (Cleveland):

Harry Smyles, an African-American oboist who helped to create the racially integrated Symphony of the New World, died on 15 January, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Smyles grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, and served in Europe during World War II, leading a dance band and editing a regimental newspaper. After the war, he studied at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood and in New York City. He played oboe for two years with the National Orchestral Training Orchestra, and then began to work as a pit musician on Broadway.

In 1965, Smyles joined the newly created Symphony of the New World, intended as the first fully integrated ensemble. He was first oboist and personnel director for the group, which helped many musicians to gain the experience needed to play in major orchestras.

(Correction: A paragraph from Wikipedia on the New World Symphony Orchestra has been deleted in response to a Comment by Wilmer Wiles, who notes it is not the same ensemble as the Symphony of The New World)

Harry+Smyles" rel="tag">Harry Smyles
classical+music" rel="tag">classical music
Black+Oboist" rel="tag">Black Oboist
integrated+symphony" rel="tag">integrated symphony
Black+Performers" rel="tag">Black Performers
Black+History" rel="tag">Black History


wiseone2 said...

Please, don't confuse "The Symphony of the New World" with the "New World Symphony." They are different groups, with different goals.
The SOTNW was a NY based orchestra of pros. The NWS is a group of youngsters based in Florida.
I played the first concert with the SOTNW in the sixties, it was a major event for musicians of color.
Wilmer Wise

janathanjohnson said...

Harry M. Smyles was my Uncle and a pioneer in the struggle for equality based on skill and talent for his passion for music. His endeavors have encouraged a number of young musicians to persevere and I am terribly proud of him and miss him more each day.

Wilmer said...

Harry was a very fine oboist and an inspiration to musicians of all colors.
Wilmer Wise

Wilmer said...

Harry was a very fine oboist and an inspiration to musicians of all colors.
Wilmer Wise