Robert Bloom (1908–1994) studied oboe with Marcel Tabuteau at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1928 to 1931, the first graduate to receive a diploma in oboe. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as assistant principal and solo English horn before taking the principal oboe position in the Rochester Philharmonic. From 1937 to 1943 he was principal oboist in the NBC Symphony, and a founding member, in 1946, of the Bach Aria Group. He was a longtime teacher at the Juilliard School of Music and Yale University. The following is an excerpt from Laurie Van Brunt’s interview of Robert Bloom from 1978.
LVB: I was wondering if there were any specific things that you say that he [Tabuteau] gave you that were important other than what you already said.
RB: Well, as I said before, he had things worked down; he even had a number system for what we would call phrasing. I mean I hate that word phrasing, because it means little things. And I have a feeling that he loved working out little puzzles. And he had a number system in which he would take a series of notes in a phrase and give them by numerical intensity. You know I heard about this from the other students, and I once went to him, and I said, “How come you are not teaching me that system?” He said, “Well, you don’t need it.” [Laugh] So, I said, “Well, thank you.” So, I never learned the system, unfortunately. But the thing is, I think the thing about Tabuteau which was so great was the inspiration to a young wind player, saying you too can be considered a musician among musicians, instead of just an organ stop in an orchestra. And he was treated with such respect by all the conductors. You know it was great; it buttressed my idea of saying I can be something too. So, he certainly did give us that.