Cheltenham High School Hall of Fame

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Roger  Scott

class of 1936
inducted in 1999

Roger Scott

Principal Bass, Philadelphia Orchestra, 1948-1995
Master Teacher, Curtis Institute of Music

Roger Scott was principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra for 47 years, performing with many of the world's greatest conductors including Philadelphia maestros Eugene Ormandy, Riccardo Muti, and Wolfgang Sawallisch. For decades Scott was a master teacher at the Curtis School of Music, imparting a love of the double bass repertoire to a new generation of musicians.

Roger Scott's musical career began at
Cheltenham High School with the encouragement of Walker D. Taylor, head of the CHS music department. Taylor encouraged Scott to join the school's orchestra so that Scott, a dedicated Boy Scout, could earn his music merit badge. Scott took up the double bass and was soon leading a small ensemble that was heard on local radio. In addition to playing in the school orchestra, Scott joined Mr. Taylor's shipboard orchestra where he performed with other CHS students on boat trips to South America in the summers of 1934 and 1935. During his time at Cheltenham, Scott also participated in the Carnegie Foundation's influential "Pennsylvania Study", an extended experiment whose results helped advance American education. An honor student, Scott graduated from Cheltenham in 1936.

Following a year of intense study of the double bass, Scott was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music, an institution with which he has enjoyed a lifetime relationship. He studied with Anton Torello, then the principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Following his 1941 graduation from the Curtis Institute, Scott toured the
United States with the All-American Youth Orchestra under the baton of the Leopold Stokowski. With the outbreak of World War II, Scott found himself in the U.S. Marine Band in Washington D.C., playing the baritone horn in concerts and parades and frequently appearing as bass soloist. As a member of numerous chamber ensembles, Scott often performed at the White House for the first family and foreign dignitaries.

After the war Scott spent a year in
New York as a freelance musician, performing with a number of radio and opera orchestras. He played for a season with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner, his former conductor at the Curtis Institute, but soon returned to his Philadelphia roots. He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra during its golden age under legendary music director Eugene Ormandy, creator of the world-famous "Philadelphia sound". Scott became a member of the bass section in 1947, and was appointed principal bass by Ormandy during the 1948-1949 season. He would retain this post until his retirement 47 years later. During his remarkable career, Scott recorded countless works of the classical repertoire with Ormandy and performed over 10,000 concerts in cities all over the world.

Roger Scott has also distinguished himself as an outstanding teacher of music. Succeeding his mentor Anton Torello, Scott began teaching double bass at the Curtis Institute in 1948. An incomparable teacher, Scott has guided more than 50 pupils through the intricacies of double bass technique. His pupils have gone on to become renowned teachers and performers themselves, including five current members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and numerous first chair players in orchestras around the world.

As a teacher and a performer, Scott strove to establish the double bass as a solo instrument. In solo recitals and recordings, he brought to the instrument a level of technique and sophistication taken for granted on the violin and cello. During the 1966-1967 season, Scott played the challenging bass solo in the premiere of Alberto Ginastera's Concerto for Strings. Scott counts among his proudest possessions a solo bass made by Lorenzo Evangelisti in 1735.

In 1972, the Philadelphia Orchestra honored Scott with the C. Hartman Kuhn Award for his ability and enterprise in enhancing the standards and reputation of the orchestra. After a long and distinguished career in music, Scott retired from the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1995. He now lives in
Philadelphia and Cape May with his wife Eleanor Huston Scott, ‘36. They have four children and three grandchildren.