Georges E. Moleux, principal DB, Boston Symphony,and more Cioffi memoirs!

Mr.Moleux was for a time the conductor of the NEC Concert Band, a group which was organized in a similar manner to the Garde Republican Bands in Paris, an organization of many clarinets, perhaps as many as 30 or 40. In any event, that was the compliment of clarinetists in the Concert Band of the New England Conservatory of Music back during the 1950s when Georges Moleux conducted it and I, as a young high school clarinetist was advised by my teacher to start going to rehearsal at the Conservatory. This was a very big step for a high school student, and a very exciting one as well. Vurtually all of the players were students at the conservatory, many destined for playing careers. Then, there was yours truly who during the very first piece, (The Prelude to Le Coq D’Or, by Rimsky Korsakoff) saw the cue for the clarinet solo, and played it along with the principal clarinetist, a terrible mistake for a kid like me, and one that I will never ever forget, especially since I was politely told the function of the cadenza was for me, not to play. It was the first time I had seen a cue written in my part.

M. Moleux, perhaps the best double bass player in the world when Koussevitsky brought him to the US from France, playe Principal double bass for all of his years with Boston.
Late in his life, he married one of his young students, and has since passed on. Her name was Sandra, and at the time, she was a young stutdent at NEC.
While at the Paris Conservatory, Moleux  won three gold medals all in one year: One in Doublebass, another, in Clarinet and the third in solfeggio.
He once sang the Flight of the Bumblebee to the band at a rehearsal, very fast, using sofegge syllables, something I have never forgotten.
Searching for material on Mr.Moleux, I remembered a dear old friend, Buell Neidlinger, one of the more revered doublebass players in Jazz, who  studied with Goerges Moleux in Boston in 1959, confirming all of the facts about Moleux. Outside of the many Boston Symphony recordings, Moleux made also the Schubert Quintet with the Budapest String Quartet, and a recording of the Stravinsky Octet and L’Histoire du Soldat, recorded on the stage at Tanglewood with Leonard Bernstein conducting. These are both still available.

Most of this I learned this afternoon, when I received a phone call from Buell, the first one received since we played together in Buffalo in 1965, both part of a group of Creative Associates, performing new music, as part of a Rockefeller Grant. I had been searching for material on Moleux, emailed Buell, and received the call today.

Buell Neidlinger, though famous for being one the foremost Jazz double bassists, also played double bass in the Boston Symphony Orchestra for three years. While there , he knew Gino Cioffi, Principal Clarinetist, about whom readers will have read several stories. Here are two more, heard today for the first time: Toward the end of his tenure with the BSO, a note appeared on the bulletin board, written by Erich Leinsdorf, the current conductor at the time. It said simply that “Gino Cioffi would no longer be participating in recording with the Boston Symphony Orchstra”, no notice to Gino, just the note on the BB. A period of time passed while Leinsdorf was on vacation. Upon his return and conducting a rehearsal, Gino Cioff, dressed in a new black suit with a tie, quite formally for a rehearsal, was awaiting him, standing up at his position in the winds. He said, (in his way, as his English was very poor,“Hey you!”

Leinsdorf looked in his direction and Cioffi repeated, Hey You! “If its a good enough for Toscanini, itsa  good enough fo you!” Then he sat back down. Nothing else was said, and Leinsdorf said nothing.While I was not present, Buell was, and I can hear Cioffi, who had played Principal clarinet for every major conductor at the time was not about to take an insult as impersonally issued as was Leinsdorfs.

Of course, the issue was pitch.Cioffi was known for playing quite flat.

The pitch of the BSO at the time, according to Buell Neidlinger,(and others) started at about 444, and frequently by the end of the rehearsal or the concert it would typically rise to about 451. Or higher. Those of you who know, know that  strings can tune high,  for brilliance, and frequently some winds cannot make that pitch, which was the case of Gino Cioffi.(The question which remains in my mind is why wasn’t an adjustment made for him? We are talking about a great player and perhaps the finest orchestra. It’s a curious, as Gino might say.)

The second story concerns one of Ginos students, who invited Buell Neidlinger to one of his lessons. When they arrived Cioffi had not, and while waiting they looked at a thick piece of glass upon which there were three reeds, one marked with a #1, another marked with #2, and the third marked JC.

When Mr Cioffi arrived, they asked him about the reeds. He said that the one marked #1 was a good reed, the one marked #2 was a better reed. They asked about the one with the JC on it. Cioffi replied, datsa reed for me, its a marked JC, Jesu Christ, who is Gino Cioffi ofa da clarinet!”

I experienced many of the Gino stories myself, but these two are new.

Thanks to Buel Neidlinger,a great player. A dear friend.

stay well, keepupa  dapractice.


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