Fenwick Smith

We wish to celebrate the memory of a remarkable flutist, friend, and colleague, Fenwick Smith, who passed away July 19th, 2017. He was a prolific flutist, an inspiring pedagogue, and a true partner with and for the Boston flute community. He will be dearly missed. 


Fenwick Smith Tribute Concert performed by a first place winner Hunter O'Brien will take place at New England Conservatory on September 9th, 2018 3PM


6th Annual James Pappoutsakis Free Flute Masterclasses Featuring the 2018-2019 High School District Audition Repertoire will take place at New England Conservatory on September 9th, 2018 1PM






By Leone Buyse. Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2018 issue of The Flutist Quarterly, the member magazine of the National Flute Association. nfaonline.org.

Fenwick Smith was an inspiration to me throughout a 50-year friendship that dated back to our student days at the Eastman School of Music. Collaborating in the Boston Symphony flute section, as faculty members at NEC, and in our many shared chamber music projects taught me the true meaning of musical and personal authenticity—sterling qualities that Fenwick always possessed in abundance. 

 During my first year in the Rochester Philharmonic, 1971–72, Fenwick was completing his bachelor’s degree at Eastman and simultaneously served as my go-to person for flute repair. After the Boston Symphony toured China in 1978, the year that he had joined the orchestra, I was delighted to be among the friends to whom Fenwick sent a vivid, neatly typed, single-spaced account of his experiences performing and teaching in that fascinating country. Five years later, when I won the position of assistant principal in the BSO and principal in the Boston Pops, Fenwick welcomed me warmly despite having been a finalist himself for that position.

Right from the beginning, our working relationship in the Boston Symphony was one of mutual respect and unfailing support. During our first rehearsal of a Mahler symphony, in which I was playing third flute/second piccolo, Fenwick quickly turned to me at one point and said, “Less vibrato.” I immediately replied, “Thanks.”

 I was touched by his gesture: He wanted me to fit in and could hear that I wasn’t focusing on an all-important issue at that particular moment. He offered exactly the information I needed, with no implication that he was annoyed, or I incompetent; no words beyond the two he uttered were needed. His Quaker background had definitely imparted the beauty of saying only what is necessary and no more—one personal attribute among many that I tremendously admired in Fenwick’s personality. When I recounted this story to a colleague recently, she replied, “What a different animal orchestras would be if everyone possessed the ability to give such direct—and clearly not personal—direction!” 


By Trevor Wye. 03/02/2003

          “I don't know what Fenwick Smith has written about pitch, and I have never discussed this with him, but he is one of              the very rare people whose intonation I find faultless.

When a man doesn't know he doesn't know, leave him alone. He's a fool.
When a man doesn't know he knows, help him.
When a man knows he doesn't know, teach him.
When a man knows he knows, study with him; he is a master.
Fenwick Smith knows he knows.”