class of 1936
inducted in 1999
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 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.