Robert Willoughby, flute
Robert Willoughby is one of the world’s most revered and beloved flute teachers. Recipient of the National Flute Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, Willoughby was assistant principal flute of the Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of George Szell and principal flute of the Cincinnati Symphony under the direction of Max Rudolph. As a founding member of the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble and Oberlin Woodwind Quintet, he toured extensively in Europe and Asia.
Mr. Willoughby taught for many years at the Oberlin Conservatory, where he was the first Robert Wheeler chair in performance, and was later a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He has commissioned and premiered compositions by Easley Blackwood and Thea Musgrave, among others. A longtime member of the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin and the Smithsonian Chamber Players, he gives concerts and masterclasses on modern and baroque flute. Mr. Willoughby has recorded for the Gasparo, Vox, CRI, Coronet, and Smithsonian labels.
Many of Willoughby's former students occupy key positions in major orchestras and other performing ensembles, including principal flutists of the Detroit, San Francisco, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Houston symphonies. In "A Tribute to Robert Willoughby" (The Flutist Quarterly), Leonard Garrison wrote: "Bob forces students to solve musical problems by asking probing questions: 'Where are you going with that phrase? Why did you stretch that note? How would you make this phrase sound different from the last one?' The result is that his students achieve independence. There is no single Willoughby Style or Willoughby Tone." In the Boston Globe, Mark Sparks said of his revered former teacher: "With each Willoughby student, the mold is broken and a star is born."