Boston redux

Mr Friedland:

I have from time to time read with great interest your various postings. I know you studied with Rosario Mazzeo. I studied with two former students of his, 3 years with Larry Mentzer, former principal with the San Antonio Symphony (where I was born and raised) and 1 year with Felix Viscuglia at Boston University. I then switched to Harold Wright as he only had an opening my sophomore year. In all, I studied with Harold for 5 years.

My question for you is, I know of some of the former classmates that Mr. Viscuglia had as well as Larry Mentzer, who were your classmates? I heard many stories about the Saturday morning master classes!

Rick Muraida

Hello RM:
Larry Mentzer was a student of Rosarios when I was, but Phil, (Viscuglia) was already teaching at the New England Conservatory. Frankly, I don’t think that Phil was a classmate of anyone as far as playing is concerned .There was as you may know, simply nothing that he couldn’t play or read and perfectly as far as I know. Once, when the Philadelphia Orchestra came to play Ein Heldenleben in Boston, the second player of the orchestra whose name was Serpentini got food poisoning and couldn’t play. Phil came in and sight read the second clarinet part, a part which had an extended solo and played it as if he were a member of the orchestra. I was at the concert and remain impressed with that kind of ability. He also recorded the Debussy Saxophone Rhapsody with the BSO for RCA ,conducted by Leinsdorf. I played many many jobs with him in Boston and he was just totally facile as a clarinetist. He was not Buddy Wright, but that particular talent was talent of a different kind; he was simply the genius of the phrase and the clarinet sound, Perhaps no one else was able to produce that gorgeous quality and his ability to sense the correct color with which to play. I only met him once when I auditioned for second in the National Symphony when Wright was principal
there. As you know Viscuglia took over Mazzeos position when Rosario retired. He left the orchestra and last I heard was living on the west coast in retirement. He has as I’m told, severe arthritis.
I studied with Rosario for six years of those Saturday master classes. You know, I had to audition for him to become a student. I auditioned with the Neilson Concerto.
Must have been 600 years ago.

best regards, Sherman


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