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Boston Globe, The (MA) - October 28, 1989


Sherman Walt, principal bassoon of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1953 until his retirement in May, died Thursday night after being struck by a motorist as he and his wife, Phyllis, 55, were crossing Hammond Pond Parkway in Brookline by the Mall at Chestnut Hill. He was 66 and lived in Brookline. Mr. Walt died at Beth Israel Hospital, where Phyllis Walt was listed in satisfactory condition yesterday. They were taken there after being struck around 7 p.m. Thursday.

During much of his career, which began with the Chicago Symphony in 1946, Mr. Walt was considered the greatest of American bassoonists.

According to Metropolitan Police Officer Brian Hermes, Mr. Walt and his wife crossed Hammond Pond Parkway to the island dividing the highway, but they were struck when they proceeded across the northbound traffic lane. He said the couple crossed the highway a short distance from the pedestrian crossing.

The driver of the vehicle, identified as Gary P. Jorgensen, 25, of Jamaica Plain, was cited for failure to grant the right of way to a pedestrian, driving to endanger and motor vehicle homicide, according to police.

Preliminary results from the investigation did not indicate that drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, Hermes said. Investigators have not yet determined whether excessive speed was a factor, he added.

According to a spokeswoman for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Jorgensen had an active driver's license. His license had been suspended in March 1987, but spokeswoman Kathi Connelly said state privacy laws forbade her from identifying the reason for the suspension.

When Mr. Walt was a teen-ager, the conductor Dmitri Mitropoulos told the youth's parents: "This boy has to play the bassoon."

Mitropoulos sent Mr. Walt an allowance every month while he was a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Years later, after Mitropoulos conducted a concert with Mr. Walt as principal bassoon, Mr. Walt took the conductor to lunch and offered him a partial reimbursement. Mitropoulos tore up the check, saying, "The way you played just now paid me back in full."

Seiji Ozawa, the BSO's principal conductor since 1973, said yesterday:

"From the beginning, Sherman made me feel tremendous joy and pride to be the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His death is a great loss for all of us in the Boston Symphony family. Sherm was a magnificent musician, a wonderful human being and my dear friend. We are all shaken by this tragedy and will mourn this day forever."

Since his final concert at Symphony Hall on May 2, Mr. Walt resumed teaching the bassoon. He also began playing the viola and pursuing other interests -- cooking, riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and playing with his grandchildren. A native of Virginia, Minn., Mr. Walt served in the Army's 83d Infantry Division from Omaha Beach to Hanover during World War II and received a Bronze Star.

During his 36 years with the Boston Symphony, he taught at the Tanglewood Music Center, the New England Conservatory of Music and Boston University. He performed often as a soloist with the orchestra and was also a member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players.

Besides his wife he leaves two daughters, Barbara Gustin of Newton and Nancy Partridge of Cambridge; a son, Stephen, of Williamstown; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service is being planned.

Boston Globe, The (MA)
Date: October 28, 1989
Edition: THIRD
Page: 40
Record Number: 00063605



New York Times, The (NY) - October 28, 1989

Deceased Name: Sherman Walt Dies

Bassoonist Was 66

Sherman Walt, a former principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, died on Thursday evening at Beth Israel Hospital in Brookline, Mass., a few hours after he was struck by an automobile. He was 66 years old and lived in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Mr. Walt was born in Virginia, Minn., and studied at the University of Minnesota and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. In 1946, he joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and became its principal bassoonist two years later. He joined the Boston Symphony in 1953 and remained with the orchestra until his retirement last spring.

Mr. Walt also toured and made recordings with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. He recorded the Mozart Bassoon Concerto with the Boston Symphony, conducted by Seiji Ozawa, for Deutsche Grammophon.

Mr. Walt is survived by his wife, Phyllis Walt; two daughters, Barbara Gustin, of Newton, Mass., and Nancy Partridge, of Cambridge, Mass.; a son, Stephen, of Williamstown, Mass., and eight grandchildren.

New York Times, The (NY)
Date: October 28, 1989
Edition: Late Edition - Final
Page: 11
Record Number: 1989-10-28-084089






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