Sony Logo
The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet
Get to The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet:


Established in 1950, The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet consisted of the first chair woodwinds and French horn of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Their first recording, dating from 1953, features the Beethoven and Mozart Quintets in E-flat, with four players from the ensemble (the flute is omitted) joined by pianist Rudolf Serkin. Serkin had been a frequent soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra and, after a rehearsal for a recording of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto, he was so taken by the artistry and tonal colors of the first chair winds that he approached them about making a record together. So began the group’s recording history, which ultimately spanned the years 1953 to 1968. The core of their repertoire was written for the standard woodwind quintet instrumentation and, in addition, many guest performers appeared with them on recordings and in concerts, extending their repertoire from Mozart and Beethoven through works of classical composers of their own time to compositions outside the classical sphere by Ornette Coleman. 

There were various changes in the Quintet’s personnel over time; however, three members – John de Lancie (oboe), Anthony Gigliotti (clarinet) and Mason Jones (French horn) – remained constant throughout the entire history of the ensemble. The original flutist, William Kincaid (1953–1956), was followed by Robert Cole (1957–1960) and then Murray Panitz (1962–1967). There were two bassoonists: Sol Schoenbach (1953–1963) and Bernard Garfield (1963–1967).

Current album

Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet - The Complete Columbia Album Collection

Artists The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet

Release Date: 09/29/2023

The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet; founded in 1950; comprised the principal woodwinds and French horn of The Philadelphia Orchestra. They made their recording debut for Columbia in 1953: four players from the ensemble were joined by pianist Rudolf Serkin in the Beethoven and Mozart Quintets in E-flat. Serkin; a frequent soloist with the orchestra; had been so taken by the artistry and tonal colors of its first-chair winds that he approached them about making a record together. So began the group’s history at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in Manhattan. It would span 15 years; during which the ensemble naturally focused on the many outstanding works scored for standard woodwind quintet. But guest performers often joined them on recordings as well as in concerts; extending their repertoire to include not only composers of their own time; but even music outside the classical sphere written by the legendary jazz trumpeter Ornette Coleman. Reviewing the original LP releases; High Fidelity wrote that “one is very conscious of the superb skill with which each player shapes his own melodic line. Yet the ensemble is the thing; and the Philadelphians provide ensemble playing of the highest order. The players seem to breathe as one; the music ebbs and flows with a perfect sense of unanimity. The sound is excellent.” The Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet released their last recording in 1968; and by early in the next decade their albums had practically vanished from record-store shelves. Owing to the legendary reputation of the Philadelphia wind section; many of the albums included in this set have acquired almost mythical status. The vast majority of the ensemble’s recordings; 8 out of 12 CDs; are presented in this collection for the first time in digital format mastered from the original analogue master tapes.