Listening Through Time

In this podcast we go inside the Orchestra, comparing how New York Philharmonic musicians over time played certain licks or passages in a variety of works. Are they the same or different, and why? Our guides in this journey are the Philharmonic players themselves, both current and former members, in conversation with the Orchestra’s Archivist and Historian Barbara Haws. For the Philharmonic’s 175th anniversary season, Sony Classical released a 65-CD box set of the Orchestra’s recordings dating from 1917 through 1995, and this got us thinking about new ways of listening and assessing the Philharmonic’s history.

Latest Episode: Orin O'Brien (bass)



This episode of Listening Through Time features the New York Philharmonic’s bass, Orin O’Brien in conversation with the Orchestra’s Archivist and Historian Barbara Haws, considering how bass performance practices and interpretations have changed… or remained the same over the decades. Also discussed is Orin’s experience of becoming the first woman admitted to the Orchestra. Works discussed include Beethoven Symphony No. 3, Rossini's Scala di Seta Overture, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10. Philharmonic bass players discussed are Robert Brennand, Frederick Zimmerman, Herman Reinshagen, and Homer Mensch.


Orin O'Brien and Barbara Haws, sharing a laugh

Recorded August 25, 2017. Inspired by Sony Classical's New York Philharmonic 175th Anniversary box set with recordings from 1917 to 1995. Conceived by Barbara Haws. Recorded by Ian Good. Edited by Charles Van Tassel. © 2017 New York Philharmonic.


About Orin O'Brien

Orin O’Brien was born in Hollywood to parents in the film industry, George O’Brien and Marguerite Churchill, and received her early musical training in Los Angeles, where she studied with Milton Kestenbaum and Herman Reinshagen. She then studied in New York with Frederick Zimmermann and graduated from The Juilliard School. She has been a member of the New York Philharmonic since 1966, where she has played with the world’s leading conductors. She has participated in numerous chamber music festivals, including Marlboro, and in first performances of the Gunther Schuller Quartet for Four Double Basses. She co-chaired the double bass department of The Juilliard School for ten years, and currently serves on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College of Music. Her most recent chamber music performances were the quintets of Schubert and Dvorak with the Guarneri String Quartet.


New York Philharmonic Bass Sections


Philharmonic bassists in 1970, from left to right: James Candido, Orin O’Brien, and Robert Brennand


Philharmonic Bass section, 1941-42 season, from left to right: Anselme Fortier, Joseph DeAngelis, Frederick Zimmerman, Robert Brennand, Morris Tivin, Carlo Raviola, Homer Mensch, Benjamin Schlossberg, Daniel Rybb


Herman Reinshagen, a member of the Philharmonic Bass section from 1902 to 1935 (1925)


Henry Boewig, Philharmonic Librarian and violinist (1888-1918) with Ludwig Manoly, a member of the Philharmonic bass section (1879-1927)



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