By Abby Yeakle Held
A small community of Viennese oboists exists in its own bubble, famously disconnected from the rest of the worldwide oboe community. The disconnect is both social and academic. A decade ago, no one knew this better than me. I wanted to learn more about the Viennese oboe, but the best available resources in English consisted of Wikipedia and passing statements in literature on the oboe’s history acknowledging the Viennese oboe’s existence. The frustration I experienced in trying to learn more sparked a passion to remedy the problem. Thanks to a Fulbright study/research grant, I was able to begin what has become a lifelong journey of bridging this gap.
I’m sure the vast majority of readers are wondering, “What is the Viennese oboe?” The Viennese oboe is a double-reeded woodwind instrument, played exclusively in the professional orchestras of Vienna, Austria. It is necessary to mention that the Viennese oboe is the predecessor to the modern French conservatory oboe used internationally today. Oboists in Vienna have maintained the use of their more historical oboe despite the takeover in popularity of the French oboe at the turn of the twentieth century, and they do this out of a sense of pride and tradition.