John Minsker: Video Interview by Robert Huffman


Robert Huffman studied oboe with Earnest Harrison at Louisiana State University and then won a position in The U.S. Army Band, ‘Pershing’s Own,’ in Washington, D.C.  He performed with The Concert Band, The Army Orchestra and The Army Woodwind Quintet for 33 years. During his service in The Army Band, he also served as its official historian. Retired from the Army in 2011, he continues to perform actively in the Washington D.C. area as principal oboist of the Pro Artè Chamber Orchestra, the Pan American Symphony, the Virginia Grand Military Band, and The Georgetown Quintet. In 2012 he became the exclusive Double Reed Representative of the Wicked Edge knife sharpening system.

Introduction by Robert Huffman

In 1998, I  created a video interview of John Minsker for presentation at the Oboe Repertoire Festival in France organized by Wayne Rapier, where John de Lancie taught Master Classes. As participants, Earnie Harrison and I thought that John Minsker was in a unique position to discuss various aspects of Marcel Tabuteau and his teaching: Minsker was both his student, and later a colleague, observing Tabuteau daily for many years. As such a close observer, Earnie and I thought he probably knew more about Tabuteau than Tabuteau knew about Tabuteau! Minsker never spoke about his mentor other than with the deepest respect and admiration.

Minsker was very self-effacing, and did not seem aware of the high regard in which he was held by his colleagues. In addition to teaching Earnie Harrison, Minsker also taught John Mack, Al Genovese, and Lou Rosenblatt (prior to their studies with Tabuteau) in addition to coaching the Wind Class at the Curtis Institute (post Tabuteau). I was not sure he would consent to a video interview. Since he really didn’t like traveling, and hated going on tour, I told him that by doing this interview, he could go to France without leaving home.  He found this uproariously funny!

Editor’s Note: The video below has been edited to be Tabuteau specific. Following that is a link to  Robert Huffman’s  complete unedited version on YouTube.  


Robert Huffman’s complete unedited video accessible on YouTube at

Near the end of the full interview above, I asked Mr. Minsker if he would like to leave a personal greeting for some of his old friends who were attending the Festival: Laila Storch, John de Lancie, Wayne Rapier and Earnie Harrison. He missed that I said ‘Earnie Harrison’ who was his favorite student, so you can hear the surprise and pleasure in his voice as he addresses both Earnie and his wife Phyllis after I reiterated they would be there. R. H.

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