From outsider to ambassador

23 September 2022

2016–17 Fulbright student Abby Yeakle Held's Fulbright journey was anything but a straight path. But her dedication to a historically inaccessible community has transformed her from a stranger into a spokeswoman.

From outsider to ambassador

Headshot of Abby Yeakle Held
As a piece of living oboe history, the Viennese oboe and its musicians effectively hold the key to better understanding many Romantic and Classical performance practices and traditions.


Viennese oboists live in a bubble, and their community is frustratingly inaccessible.
After years of sending unanswered emails to all three, Abby was eventually able to establish contact with Karl Radovanovic...
...with Josef Benarik...
...and with Harald Hörth.

My Fulbright year

The community proved quite welcoming of me and supportive of my research.
Abby's Viennese oboe

Article: “The Viennese Oboe and its classical/romantic traditions”

The first resource of its kind published in English anywhere


Article: “The Future is Breit…”

Auditions everywhere are usually a private process, so being allowed to observe and report on such a high- profile audition was a true display of friendship and transparency.
Viennese oboists themselves argue they have much in common with the American style.
Abby's recital-lecture tour took her to campuses all across the US, including Arizona State University...
...and Kansas State University.
My reeds, and how they blend the reed-making traditions of both of our countries, could be interpreted as a wonderful metaphor for the transformative nature of the Fulbright experience.

Study abroad

Viennese-oboe reeds in two styles: traditional Viennese style (l.) and hybrid style (r.)

Work in progress!

The first-ever album featuring Viennese oboe as a solo instrument.

Madame Ambassador