(b Akron, OH, 11 Oct 1928). American countertenor and teacher. He was educated at the Juilliard School of Music (diploma 1951). Oberlin was a founding member in 1952 of the New York Pro Musica with Noah Greenberg, and also appeared as a countertenor with numerous opera companies, orchestras and ensembles, and in theatrical productions. Admired for his virile, sweet tone and subtle phrasing, he was a leading exponent of early music, and through his many recordings and appearances helped to popularize not only music at that time unknown but also the repertory of the countertenor voice. In 1961 he sang Oberon in the first Covent Garden production, and the US première in San Francisco, of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the mid-1960s he turned to teaching, and appeared as lecturer and lecture-recitalist at colleges and universities throughout the USA and abroad. In 1971 he was appointed professor of music at Hunter College, CUNY, and director of the Hunter College Vocal Collegium.
PATRICK J. SMITH
Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
A conservatory attached to a private college in Oberlin, near Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The college was founded by Congregationalists in 1833. In 1837 George N. Allen, a student, was designated instructor of sacred music; he later became a professor (1841–64), and in 1865 two of his students, John P. Morgan and George W. Steele, established a conservatory which was joined to the college in the following year. Under the directorship (1871–1901) of Fenelon B. Rice the conservatory attained a position of national prominence which it still holds. Karen Wolff was appointed Dean in 1991. The conservatory enrolled about 550 students and had a faculty of about 75 in the mid-1990s. The college awards, on recommendation from the conservatory, BM and MM degrees in performance, composition, music education, music history, historical performance, electronic and computer music and jazz studies, and also a diploma in performance. An electronic music studio and a collegium musicum are among the available facilities. The library has over 110,000 books and scores, and over 42,000 sound recordings.
W.Warch: Our First 100 Years (Oberlin, c1967)
E.B.Chamberlain: The Music of Oberlin and Some who Made it (Oberlin, 1968)
(b Starnberg, nr Munich, 17 Oct 1878; d Starnberg, 13 July 1966). German harp maker. Obermayer established his harp making concern in Munich in 1928, and produced his first instruments in the 1930s. His factory was bombed during World War II, but he re-established himself in 1944 in Kufstein, Austria. In 1952 Obermayer moved his factory to his home town, and he was joined there by his chief assistant from Kufstein, Maximilian Horngacher. After the sudden death of Obermayer’s son in 1960, Horngacher was gradually trained to take over the business; this he did on Obermayer’s death in 1966.
Obermayer produced three styles of harp. Shortly before his death he developed and built a fourth type in a more modern style, without the traditional gilding. Horngacher continued to produce all four models; in 1970 he was awarded a gold medal for exceptional craftsmanship by the state of Bavaria. Individually hand-built, the Obermayer-Horngacher harps are particularly notable for their reliability, their stability of pitch, the meticulous precision of their mechanism and their brilliant sound. This latter property may be attributable to the tuned cast-metal ribs, rather than the usual wooden ones, which are used in the construction of the harp’s sounding-box.
See under Divider.
SeeOberek and Mazurka.
Oberthür, Charles [Karl]
(b Munich, 4 March 1819; d London, 8 Nov 1895). German harpist and composer. The son of a maker of strings for musical instruments, he was educated in Munich, studying the harp with Elisa Brauchle and composition with George V. Röder, music director at the Munich court. In the autumn of 1837 Charlotte Birch-Pfeiffer engaged him as harpist for the Zürich theatre, where he remained until 1839. He then made a concert tour of Switzerland and Germany, after which he was a chamber musician at the court of the Duke of Nassau in Wiesbaden; he composed two operas, Floris von Namur and Der Berggeist des Harzes, which were performed at the Wiesbaden court. From 1842 to 1844 he was solo harpist at the court theatre in Mannheim, where a dispute with Vinzenz Lachner culminated in Oberthür's giving up his position.
English friends in Mannheim urged Oberthür to go to London, where he received support from Moscheles and in 1844 performed with success. He settled there in 1848, meanwhile giving concerts on the Continent and staying at Frankfurt in 1847–8. He was an unrivalled virtuoso, and his concerts were always well received. In London he became solo harpist at the Italian Opera but cancelled his contract to devote himself to composition and teaching. He became harp professor at the London Academy of Music, founded in 1861, and was widely known as a teacher; his method, Harfenschule für doppelte und einfache Bewegung op.36 (later published as Universal Method for the Harp), is still used by teachers. A prolific composer, he wrote 351 works with opus numbers and more than 100 unnumbered works. His compositions, which reflect his experience as a concert performer, include many transcriptions for harp, about 30 collections (mainly for harp), trios, quartets, about 40 piano works and 27 duos for harp and piano, as well as many vocal and orchestral works.
for fuller list see PazdírekH
Operas: Floris von Namur (C. Gollmick), Wiesbaden, 1840; Der Berggeist des Harzes, Wiesbaden, 1850
Choral: Missa St Philip de Neri, SATB, hp, orch; Psalm lxi, T, SATB, org, hp ad lib, op.194; 3 cantatas, Lady Jane Grey (E. Oxenford), op.309 (London, c1886), The Pilgrim Queen (Mrs A. Roberts) (London, 1880), The Red Cross Knight (Roberts) (London, 1881)