Tuesday, August 15, 2006


A wiry, sort of nervous guy named Raymond Ojeda had a little wind-only sheet music shop in the Tenderloin in the early 1970’s.

The couple times I, a TSN (true snot nose) flute student, bought music there I also received some professional musician perspective from Mr Ojeda himself.

Ray was a bassoonist for the SF Symphony but he wasn’t a totally happy camper. The way he talked he was always about to be fired, or about to quit. There was politics that went way over my head.

One of Ray Ojeda’s rants was about the goddamn German repertoire they’d been playing in recent years (I think Josef Krips was conducting then). “And,” he said, “it’s all because of the Jews. The fucking Jews out-German the Germans.” I guess “the Jews” were major benefactors, darn them.

“Beethoven, Beethoven, Beethoven. They’d make us play a Beethoven symphony on every program if they could.”

Then he’d extol the glory days of Pierre Monteux, who played plenty of French music.

“The difference between French and German music is the same as the difference between French and German food,” Ray said.

From my point of view it would be great to be a professional musician. What’s to complain about? My mom, who grew up around some musicians understood the precarious financial circumstances of most of them.

When we moved back to San Francisco when I was ten, we had some weather stripping done by a carpenter who used to be a violinist in the SF Symphony. His story was that he had to get away from his deadbeat musician friends. He, the carpenter, had made a decent living with the symphony and lessons and all, but his musician friends were always broke and always wanting to borrow money from him. So he became a carpenter.

So much for high art.

BTW: Pud googled Raymond Ojeda. He died in 1989, the notice said, shortly after retiring from the SF Symphony. Probably bitched the whole time.

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