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Posted December. 02, 2006 07:27,   


Hermann Hesse grew a garden every time he moved to a new place. For him, his garden was a place where he could keep his spirit in peace away from the civilized world. One day, Hesse made a small fire with leaves while wearing a straw hat. From the ticking sound of the fire, he suddenly felt music.

“From that beat, my never resting memory repeats, and the melody without a title nor a compositor I hum along to. Then I’m suddenly reminded of a name. Mozart. His oboe quartet...”(Hermann Hesse, “Hours in the Garden”)

Smelling and hearing the burning leaves, Hesse thought of the meditation of alchemists’ merrymaking and Mozart’s oboe quartet. In addition to Hesse, anybody would long for the warm and pastoral tone of the oboe in a season when the cold wind blows into our clothes.

Thinking of the film titled “Mission,” what rings in one’s ear is the melody of the oboe Father Gabriel played for the aboriginals on the top of Iguazu Falls. “Gabriel’s Oboe,” written by the great artist of film music, Ennio Morricone, seduces the aborigines with its occult melody trembling as if to explore the rainforests in South America.

The oboe also delivers a delicate yet lively tone in dance music such as Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” Ravel’s “Bolero,” and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Also, the melody that supports the arias sung by sopranos in an opera is mostly played by an oboe. In many of orchestra pieces such as Brahms’ Double Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, the oboe shines as a solo instrument. We often see the conductor raising the oboe player up after playing a piece.

This past fall, world class orchestras visited Korea to have concerts more than ever before. It was very interesting to listen to oboes in the concert halls, comparing the skills of the players and the tones. An oboe is the instrument that plays the A tune during the coordination of instruments right before an orchestra concert begins.

It is said that good conductors make three players accompany him without failure; a bandleader, a timpanist, and an oboist. Out of the three, the oboe takes the role of a “center forward,” sitting right opposite the conductor and influencing the sound color of the entire orchestra.

My bedtime music these days is one of Saint Saens’ and Poulenc’s albums, an oboe sonata titled “Denon,” played by Hansjörg Schellenberger (former chief oboist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra). Classic oboe sonatas in the baroque period by musicians such as Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn, Marcello, Telemann are also good for embellishing these nights. More than anything else, I adore the dreamy oboe I listen to, while watching an 8-month-old baby fall asleep softly.