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Passages: Laila Storch Friedmann

Submitted by Joanne De Pue on February 10, 2023 - 3:24pm
Former School of Music professor Laila Storch
Renowned oboist and former School of Music professor Laila Storch Friedman.

Renowned oboist, author, and longtime former School of Music Professor Laila Storch Friedmann died on December 2, 2022 on Orcas Island, Washington. She was 101. 

Professor Storch had a pathbreaking career, the first woman to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music in oboe (after initially being turned down for admission because of her gender), then building a career as an oboist in the 1940s and 1950s, in the United States and Europe. 

Her orchestral positions included the National Symphony, the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Chicago Little Symphony, and the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. In 1948 she was offered the position of Principal Oboe of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, pioneering a path for women in prominent orchestral positions throughout the country. 

Laila performed in the Marlboro, Carmel, and Bethlehem Bach Festivals and for seven seasons at the Casals Festival. Throughout her career she worked with Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Efrem Kurtz, Pablo Casals, Bruno Walter, Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Sir Thomas Beecham, and her favorite conductor of all, Ferenc Fricsay.

She joined the quintet the Soni Ventorum at the Conservatory of Music in Puerto Rico in 1965, and came to the University of Washington with the quintet when it was hired in 1968 as a resident ensemble at the School of Music. 

Her career at the UW included the teaching of many student oboists, along with numerous performances each year as a soloist and ensemble player, on campus and around the world. 

She retired in 1991, but remained very active both as a musician and author, writing the definitive biography of one of the leading oboists of the 20th century, her teacher at Curtis, Marcel Tabuteau (Marcel Tabuteau, Indiana University Press, 2008; paperback edition, 2018). 

Laila’s family plans a celebration of her life at a future date.

Read a complete obituary from The Seattle Times