Performing Arts Library

John Mack Music Collection

Performing Arts Library

John Mack Music Collection

John Mack was was principal oboist of the Cleveland Orchestra for 36 years. He was the Administrative Chairman of the Woodwind Division and Head of the Oboe Department of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He was a student of Bruno Labate and Harold Gomberg at Juilliard and of Marcel Tabuteau at the Curtis Institute of Music. In 2006, shortly after John Mack passed away from brain cancer, his family deposited approximately seven hundred pieces of his personal music score collection in the Kent State University Performing Arts Library for preservation and safekeeping. These scores were used by Mack during his life and career.

Scope and Availability of the John Mack Music Collection

The music in the John Mack Music Collection includes a rich and extensive collection of chamber music works which include one or more oboes, oboe solo pieces and oboe method books as well as various orchestral scores in which the oboe is prominently featured. John Mack was so incredibly influential as a performer and teacher in the world of oboists that his personal markings in many of the pieces of the collection will be of great interest to oboists around the world. The collection is publicly circulating and all but the most rare items in the collection are available through Inter-Library Loan. For information regarding the availability for study of materials marked non-circulating in the online catalog, contact the Performing Arts Library located in The Kent Center for the Performing Arts, Room D-004 at Kent State University.

Browse the John Mack Music Collection through KentLINK.


John Wilfred Mack was born October 30, 1927, in Somerville, New Jersey. His Father was a Presbyterian minister and John was encouraged to learn about music from an early age. He played piano and violin before he switched in sixth grade to the instrument that eventually became his life's work, the oboe.

Juilliard School of Music in New York provided a nurturing undergraduate environment for John Mack's talent. He played first oboe in the orchestra and studied with Harold Gomberg, who was the principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic.

John Mack attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia for graduate school and took lessons from Marcel Tabuteau, who was the first oboist with the Philadelphia Orchestra under renowned conductor, Leopold Stokowski. The impeccable technique and magnificent breath control John Mack incorporated into his playing is a direct result of his association with Tabuteau.

After playing first oboe with the Sadler's Wells Ballet Orchestra during their North American Tour (1951-52), John Mack played first oboe for eleven seasons with the New Orleans Symphony. In 1965 George Szell recruited John Mack to move to Ohio to perform as principal oboist of the Cleveland Orchestra. For more information regarding Mr. Mack's life, see the Washington Post obituary by Adam Berstein.

Written by Beth Flemming (2009)
Revised by Amanda Evans (2010)

John Mack