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William Waterhouse (18 February 1931 in Londonmarker5 November 2007 in Florencemarker) was a distinguished British bassoonist and musicologist. He played with notable orchestras, was a member of the Melos Ensemble, professor at the Royal Northern College of Musicmarker, author of the Yehudi Menuhin Music Guide "Bassoon", of "The New Langwill Index", and contributor to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Biography, orchestra positions

William Waterhouse studied at the Royal College of Musicmarker, the bassoon with Archie Camden, viola with Cecil Aronowitz, and harmony with the composer Gordon Jacob. From 1953 until 1955, he was second bassoonist in the orchestra of the Royal Opera at Covent Garden at the time of Maria Callas, Tito Gobbi, and Kirsten Flagstad. Later he stated that his most valuable lessons in phrasing were actually learned playing in the pit while accompanying opera singers. From 1955 until 1958 he played in the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano. He was the principal bassoonist in the London Symphony Orchestra 1958–1965, and in the BBC Symphony Orchestra 1965–1982, playing under such conductors as Cantelli, Toscanini, Furtwängler, Monteux, Karajan, Klemperer and Boulez.

Chamber musician

William Waterhouse was a member of the Melos Ensemble since 1959 and participated with the group in the premiere of the War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, conducted by the composer. With them, he recorded all the wind chamber music of Beethoven, and works by Nielsen, Janáček, Poulenc, Schubert and Jean Françaix. He wrote in 1995: "It was the remarkable rapport between this pair of lower strings" (i.e. Terence Weil and Cecil Aronowitz) "which remained constant throughout a succession of distinguished leaders, that gave a special distinction to this outstanding ensemble."


William Waterhouse was a professor at the Royal Northern College of Musicmarker from 1966 until 1996, when he served as Curator of the Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. He was awarded Fellowship of the College in 1991. In 1972, he became visiting professor at Indiana University, Bloomington. He was also guest professor in Melbournemarker and Banffmarker.

Author and editor

He contributed to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and edited for both Musica Rara, Hofmeister, and Universal Edition. Among the rare music he rediscovered is a sonata for bassoon and piano by Anton Liste (1772–1832) that he recorded in 1998 with William Fong. Lyndesay G. Langwill, who had published his Index of Musical Wind-Instrument Makers in book form from 1960 in six editions, had designated William Waterhouse as his successor and had left him his archive of correspondence and books, before he died in 1983. After ten years of research The New Langwill Index: A dictionary of musical wind-instrument makers and inventors was published. This important work of reference was awarded the C.B. Oldman prize in 1995. Posthumously he received the Curt Sachs Award of the American Musical Instrument Society on May 31, 2008.

Juror of international competitions

He served on the jury of the ARD Musikwettbewerb in Munich in 1965, 1975, 1984 and 1990, as well as in Prague, Eindhoven, Markneukirchen, Potsdam and Victoria BC.

Double Reed Society

William Waterhouse was one of the co-founders of the British Double Reed Society in 1988 and was a member of the Society's Committee until his death. The IDRS 2009, the annual conference of the International Double Reed Society in Birmingham, was dedicated to him and Evelyn Barbirolli.

Music dedicated to William Waterhouse

Gordon Jacob dedicated to him the Suite for bassoon and string quartet and the Partita for solo bassoon, Jean Françaix the Divertissement and the Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano. dedicated his Trio op. 97 für Fagottino, Fagott und Kontrafagott to William Waterhouse. Stanley Weiner wrote a Sonata for Bassoon Solo op. 32. Graham Waterhouse dedicated Mouvements d’Harmonie and Hexenreigen to him and composed Phoenix Arising for bassoon and piano and Epitaphiumas a tribute to his father's memory.

Selected publications


External links

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