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Remembering CYSO alum Richard Oldberg

Portrait of Richard Oldberg as a high school senior holding his horn
Richard Oldberg as a senior in CYSO, 1956

CYSO is saddened to hear of the passing of Richard Oldberg, a 1956 CYSO alum. Richard was a respected musician and educator, serving as a long-time member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn section for more than 30 years as well as a professor at Northwestern University. He passed away on December 27, 2021 in Estes Park, Colorado, where he retired to after leaving Chicago.

Born in Evanston, Richard began studying horn through his school band program and attended Evanston Township High School during his time in CYSO. He went on to study music at Harvard and Northwestern Universities. A lip injury temporarily forced him to give up playing, but with the encouragement of teacher and CSO principal horn Christopher Leuba, Richard was invited to perform as an extra horn with CSO in 1962. He continued to work as a subsitute and eventually joined as assistant principal horn for the 1963-64 season. He moved to third horn the next season and remained in that position for 29 years.

Richard was honored with CYSO’s Note of Excellence Alumni Award in 2013. He was nominated by his wife Mary (Emery) Oldberg, a fellow 1956 CYSO alum. Mary wrote in her nominating essay that Richard was the one who introduced her to CYSO and they went on to attend together through all four years of high school. She noted that Richard “gives credit to the CYSO for the start it gave him in a very long and successful career.”

Richard Olberg accepting CYSO's 2013 Note of Excellence Alumni Award from then board chair Gary Burns
Richard Olberg at Orchestra Hall accepting CYSO’s 2013 Note of Excellence Alumni Award from then board chair Gary Burns
Richard Oldberg surrounded by friends at CYSO's May 2013 Orchestra Hall concert
Richard Oldberg during intermission at CYSO’s May 2013 Orchestra Hall concert. Pictured from left to right: Former CYSO board member Linda Vernon Goldberg, Dale Clevenger, Richard Oldberg, Mary Oldberg, Juanjo Mena, and CYSO board member Angela O’Banion

Though technically retired when he moved to Colorado, Richard continued to his involvement in music. He played with the Midland Odessa (Texas) Symphony and Chorale as well as the Fresno (California) Philharmonic for several years and was first horn in the Boulder Philharmonic for ten years. After, he began to explore conducting and conducted works with the Boulder Ballet and Boulder Philharmonic. He continued to teach into his retirement as well, and was highly respected by students, teachers, and conductors alike.

We send out condolences to Richard’s family and the many musicians, students, and audience members he touched during his long career.

Read more about Richard Olberg in this remembrance from CSO.

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