Bruno Labate
Tribute by Jeffrey Sward
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Bruno Labate (1883-1968) was the renowned principal oboist with the New York Philharmonic from 1920-1943.

Diminutive in stature, Bruno Labate was imperturbable yet obstreperous. The most frequently told anecdote about Bruno Labate concerns a rehearsal lead by famous conductor Otto Klemperer. Klemperer was infamous for delivering long lectures during rehearsals about the musicological significance of the composition being rehearsed. Orchestral musicians chose to be performers, not musicologists, so such talks infuriate musicians who would rather rehearse. After one of these talks had been going for some time, Bruno Labate stood up, shook his fist and said, "Klemp, you talka too much." Lecture over. Klemperer was over six feet tall, and Labate about five feet tall. When asked later about the amount of intestinal fortitude necessary for such a stunt, Bruno replied, "Witha fifty thousand dollars in the bank, I don'ta worry about nothing." Bruno apparently had sources of income other than his philharmonic job.

Bruno Labate wrote a series of short pieces for oboe and piano. The pieces are of a overly romanticized style, but display the characteristics of the oboe well. These short pieces are a cornerstone of the oboist's repertoire. This style of writing for solo instruments was often imitated. For example, Herbert L. Clarke wrote similar compositions for solo trumpet and piano. Herbert L. Clarke is often referred to as "The Bruno Labate of the trumpet." Also Fritz Kreisler is often referred to as "The Bruno Labate of the violin."

Some of Bruno Labate's compositions for oboe and piano include:

  • Carnation Waltz
  • Intermezzo Polka
  • Habanera
  • Pastorale
  • Tarantella
  • Villanella
  • Strolling
  • Pomposo
  • Canzona
  • Seguidilla
  • Minuetto
  • Barcarolle

Visit Robert Simon's recollections of Bruno Labate .

Bruno Labate, the famous oboist, is not be confused with the Nascar driver with the same name.


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