Dr. Dan Schwartz is the Assistant Professor of Oboe at the University of Oklahoma School of Music, joining the faculty in the fall of 2011. At OU, he maintains an active studio of undergraduate and graduate oboists, runs the woodwind chamber music program, as well as performs in the woodwind-quintet-in-residence, the Oklahoma Woodwind Quintet.
An avid performer, Dr. Schwartz is currently the Second Oboe/English Horn player in the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Prior to this position, Dr. Schwartz has performed with orchestras throughout North America, including the National Arts Center Orchestra under the baton of Pinchas Zukerman, Nashville Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, New World Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, and Austin Symphony. He also spent many summers as Principal Oboe of the FAVA Opera in Perigueux, France. Dr. Schwartz was an invited recitalist at the 2013 International Double Reed Society Conference held at the University of Redlands (California) as well as the 2014 Conference at New York University. Recent masterclasses given include University of Michigan, University of Texas Austin, Vanderbilt University, University of Costa Rica, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, University of Northern Colorado, University of Wisconsin (both Milwaukee and Platteville), amongst others.
Who were your first teachers? What are some aspects of the teaching approach that stand out in your memory?
My first teachers were Nancy Colbert, Heidi Brann, and then Grover Schiltz (English horn player of the Chicago Symphony). I was very lucky in that my first teachers were terrific players themselves and very accomplished oboists. Not everyone has the luxury of getting to begin their private study with such talented oboists. I owe a lot of my own success to them. The main aspect of their teaching that stands out in my memory is that all three were incredibly generous, kind, supportive, and allowed me to fall in love with music (not forcing it upon me). They were patient when there was a week where I did not have time to practice, or when I opened my oboe case and had forgotten my reeds for my lesson. We forget sometimes that music is an art centered on being human, and allowing us to make these mistakes in a safe environment lets us learn from the mistakes and grow as people.
Could you tell us a bit more about your oboe studio at OU? What's in stall for the coming year?
The Oboe Studio at the University of Oklahoma is a truly special group of students. We had 14 students this year, (undergraduate, masters and doctoral students), and we will have a similar number for the next school year. In terms of level and ability, the studio is top notch! An oboist won the university concerto competition this year, which is very rare and hard to do (especially since they must beat out pianists and violinists, etc). The entire studio was featured this year on a university concert of all electroacoustic music, after we did an international call for submissions of works for oboe and electronics. More recently, the oboe studio teamed up with a graduate course in Spanish Poetry to compose their own works based on inspiration from poetry. It was a huge success, and every oboist wrote a wonderful composition for themselves to perform centered around these poems! Next year, there will be more exciting projects, including some centered on the Baroque oboe, and another on composing original works inspired by astronomy.
What's the most challenging part about being an oboist and what's the most enjoyable?
The most challenging part of being an oboists is TIME. I think with juggling the demands of practicing, rehearsing, and reed making, we forget to live our lives and gain experiences and inspiration from the world that we can bring to, and enhance, our own music making. Sometimes we need to put down the reed knife, and go take a walk! You never know what adventure is waiting for you. The most enjoyable part for me is getting to do what I love, and make meaningful connections with people who love the same thing. Music is all about humanity and cannot exist or thrive in isolation. Getting out of the practice room and actually performing with others is such a thrill. And what music making is all about.
What non-musical lessons have your experiences as an oboist taught you?
I think the most important lesson life teaches us, that we can bring to being an oboist, is to be patient. Progress can be slow, tedious, and even painful. I think this is why so many aspiring musicians quit. But if you take the time, allow yourself to grow in a healthy way, you will get there!
What do you enjoy doing besides playing the oboe?
Outside of the oboe, I love to cook and travel, and also compose music. Cooking helps me quiet my mind, and fuels my creativity. I find it is a great supplement to being a musician. Traveling has also become a big part of my life. Experiencing other cultures, tastes, sights, and sounds just opens my eyes to the possibilities of what is out there. My biggest love outside of playing the oboe is getting to compose music for it. In recent years, I have gotten more serious about writing and have now finished some major works for the oboe. I even got to play a recital of all my own music last summer at the IDRS conference in Tokyo!
If you could offer one piece of advice to young oboe players, what would it be?
My advice to young oboists is to not overthink. If you love the oboe, go for it! Work hard, work smart, enjoy life, and do everything you can to keep your mind open, healthy, and inspired. Help and inspiration can come from often the most unlikely of places. Be open to it!
Dr. Schwartz holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Oboe Performance from Vanderbilt University, graduating summa cum laude and receiving the university's highest academic honor, the Founders Medal. Dr. Schwartz also holds a Master of Music degree in Oboe Performance from the University of Texas Austin, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Oboe Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music, where he also received a degree minor in Music Education. His primary teachers have included Richard Killmer, Rebecca Henderson, Bobby Taylor, and Grover Schiltz. In demand internationally, Dr. Schwartz has performed and taught throughout the world, including Spain, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, the Bahamas, Canada, and even Sydney, Australia for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
Dr. Schwartz has recorded for the Naxos and Sony Classical labels, and his article "A Hidden Narrative in Strauss' Oboe Concerto: Critical Context and the Plot it Illuminates" was published in the International Double Reed Society Journal in 2011. An avid composer, his "Sonata for Oboe and Piano" and "Songs Without Words (for oboe and piano)" are published and available through EightyFour Music Publishing. He is also a member of the International Double Reed Society and the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity.
- DMA (Oboe Performance & Literature), Eastman School of Music
- MM (Oboe Performance), University of Texas, Austin
- BM (Oboe Performance) Summa Cum Laude, Vanderbilt University