BOSTON — A longtime Boston Symphony Orchestra flutist and musical trailblazer has died, the orchestra said Monday. Doriot Anthony Dwyer was 98.
Dwyer, the second woman ever to win a principal chair in a major U.S. orchestra, died Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas, the BSO said in a statement. A cause of death was not given, but her daughter, Arienne Dwyer, said she simply died of old age.
Dwyer was the Boston Symphony's principal flutist for nearly 40 years, first studying with her mother before attending the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. She joined the BSO in 1952, becoming just the second woman to serve as a principal in a prominent orchestra after Helen Kotas, who became principal horn of the Chicago Symphony in 1941.
In the late 1950s, as the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the West intensified, Dwyer accompanied the Boston orchestra on a tour of Russia and performed the long flute solo in Claude Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun” during a concert in Moscow.
“The concertgoers were so excited that a roar went up from the crowd and they carried her on their shoulders out into the streets,” her daughter told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday.
Born March 6, 1922, in Streator, Illinois, a grand-niece of famed suffragist Susan B. Anthony, Dwyer was an important force in enlarging the flute repertoire. Leonard Bernstein was among the prominent composers who wrote works for her.
Dwyer also was the first orchestra player ever awarded Yale University’s prestigious Sanford Fellowship, and she recorded numerous works before retiring from the BSO in 1990. After her retirement, she performed as a soloist with orchestras and quartets around the U.S., and taught extensively.
In 2012, she was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame.
In addition to her daughter, Dwyer is survived by a granddaughter. Funeral arrangements and plans for a tribute concert were pending.
William J. Kole, The Associated Press