Before each performance Bill Bennett sounded the A to which the San Francisco Symphony tuned. He was an incomparable oboist, with a range of dynamics and shading beyond any I, at least, have ever heard; but he was also an incomparable man. He was a treasured guest DJ on classics without walls several times; he was warm, witty, passionate about music and about radio, exceptionally articulate, and possessed of a graceful, easy delivery I envied – not to mention his charismatic good looks. It was a privilege to hear him making music for the last three decades, and even more of one to get to know him even a little; but to know who Bill was, one had only to watch him interacting with his colleagues on the Davies stage, and see the depth of love and esteem they so clearly held for him. As my wife put it, it’s hard to imagine another loss that could so rip the heart out of our orchestra. The San Francisco Symphony truly has been tuning itself to Bill Bennett these many years, and it is heartbreaking to lose him so young.
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