Joseph H. Kluger
President of The Philadelphia Orchestra
Legend: Webster’s defines as a person whose admirable behavior in life inspired those who follow him to emulate that behavior. Many people have spent their lives trying to live up to the legend of Anthony Gigliotti and are a testament to Tony’s incredible and legendary role as a father, mentor, and teacher whose generosity knows no bounds. In most cases, legends grow in stature after passing, as the successes of their successors never seem to match the feats of the masters. Tony Gigliotti was a legend in his own time, whose legendary stature I am sure will grow even more as time passes.
For 47 years, he held court as leader of the clarinet section of the Philadelphia Orchestra, maintaining the highest standards of artistic excellence within his section, all of whom: Donald Montanaro, Raoul Querze, Ron Reuben, are students of his and he provided ballast within the woodwind choir, in harmony with other legends like Kincaid, Panitz, Khaner, Tabuteau, de Lancie, Woodhams, Schoenbach and Garfield.
Tony was truly one of the stars of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Webster’s defines star as any natural luminous body visible in the sky at night. …I assume in this case Webster was talking of his clarinet proficiency and not his girth. Being a wind star in the Philadelphia Orchestra is a unique challenge. It requires a wind player to shine bright under the telescope of a major solo passage, but blend in as part of a galaxy of stars that contribute to creating the unique sound that is the Philadelphia Orchestra. Tony epitomized the ability to balance the needs of individuality and personality while maintaining consistency as a whole with the needs of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
As a star, Tony could be counted on to shine in countless orchestral solos…but, he was also a prolific concerto soloist. In January 1956, when Tony made his concerto debut in a subscription concert playing the Mozart A Major, Edwin Schloss in The Philadelphia Inquirer said that “Mr. Gigliotti’s tone flowed and rippled beautifully and sounded particularly rich in the lower register. In general, Gigliotti performed beautifully with a maximum of the tootling of which a trace is inevitable in any clarinet concerto” Tootling? Can someone define what “tootling” means? I actually studied clarinet for a year before my orthodontist said it would increase my overbite so I have some sense of what “tootling” means. Max Schauensee in the Bulletin said of that same Mozart piece that “his technical equipment is impressive and his phrasing exemplary. It was interesting to hear this seldom played concerto performed so handsomely.” Many of you know Tony performed regularly as a soloist not only with the Philadelphia Orchestra but all over the world.
Tony also performed the world premiere of the Rochberg Clarinet Concerto during his last season as Principal, which the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned for him as a small token of gratitude for his 47 years of dedicated service. In fact, the story of how this commission came about is interesting. When Tony informed Maestro Sawallisch of his decision to retire, Maestro asked if there was anything we could possibly do to express our thanks and gratitude and it was Tony who suggested the Rochberg commission, not as a vehicle to showcase himself but as a composer he believed this orchestra had overlooked for many years. A sign of real class and of real commitment to expanding his art form.
Speaking of conductors, Tony had the great privilege and great responsibility of working under Music Directors Ormandy, Muti, and Sawallisch. As the musicians here today can attest, it is sometimes a challenge to satisfy the demands…some might say whims… of any music director. Keeping them content for 47 years is really a tremendous feat.
Tony Gigliotti was a star in so many ways at the Philadelphia Orchestra. He won our Kuhn Award in 1966 for his outstanding accomplishments and the Philadelphia Orchestra award in 1966 for an outstanding individual who deserves public recognition for their most outstanding service and hard work. Therefore, on behalf of everyone at the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and especially the thousands of loyal members of our audience who had the pleasure of hearing the clarinet these many years, let me say how proud we are to be able to have had Tony Gigliotti as our Principal Clarinet for 47 years. We are honored with his many years of dedicated service.
Back to The Tribute.
Back to the main page.