August 19, 2003 by

Julius Baker


Categories: Musicians

jbaker.jpgJulius Baker, a principal flutist of the New York Philharmonic, died on Aug. 6 of an apparent heart attack. He was 87.
A native of Cleveland, Baker first picked up the flute after watching his father play it. He graduated in 1937 from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and joined the Cleveland Orchestra. Then he performed as the principal flutist for the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Columbia Broadcasting Symphony in New York and the Chicago Symphony.
Baker joined the New York Philharmonic in 1965 and spent 18 years in the solo flute position under the directorships of Leonard Bernstein and Pierre Boulez. He also taught music at the Juilliard School and Toho University in Tokyo, released nine CDs and performed at the 200th birthday of Theobald Boehm, the developer of the modern flute.

12 Responses to Julius Baker

  1. Rose

    Julius Baker was my third cousin. I live in Ypsilanti Michigan and I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Starting my second year in high school, as a musicion myself, I hope to follow in his footsteps. I post this here as a tribute to my late cousin.

  2. Jay King

    Julius Baker’s flute playing was unbelievable. I’ve followed his career for 40 years. He had a highly individualistic style,fantastic tone and a way of accenting and “milking” the notes that squeezed emotion out of them. I listen to anything of his I can get my eager hands on. Jay K.

  3. Amy McLane Young

    I remember playing for Mr. Baker in a Master class back in 1996 and then also being invited to play for “Baker’s Best” at Carnegie Hall on Valentine’s Day 1997. What an experience it was to learn from the master. I had he pleasure of playing on his gold 81st. birthday flute.
    Was so saddened to hear of his death.

  4. Paul Weissleder

    A few years before his death I had the pleasure of meeting Julius Baker on the Metro North train from Brewster to Grand Central. He was very natural at striking up a conversation and we spoke about various topics none too earth shattering or important.
    I feel honored that he told me who in fact he was, because as a famous person he would have been within his rights to keep that confidential, but he didn’t. He mentioned Rampal and Galway who were indeed his friends and I was duly impressed because I had heard of them but not of him, which was probably just due to the fact that I was 40 years his junior.
    Being a Brewster resident I regret not hearing about his passing at that time, but the memory of his acquaintance will live with me forever.
    He was not a “prima donna” artist who was too lofty to speak to average people, and to me he was just a wonderful human being. I excitedly told a few friends about meeting him, but I didn’t get any reactions of note. The people who knew him and loved him would beg to differ.
    I didn’t ask for his autograph; just sharing the same space with him was enough.
    Paul Weissleder

  5. Cindy B. McGann

    So many years ago, Julius Baker taught me when I started playing and he taught me at his final masters class. His talent has touched so many lives. He was a geat master of the instrument and he will be missed by the world.

  6. Monty Adams

    Julius Baker was a wonderful teacher and friend. I studied with him in college and kept in touch with him from time to time over the years after I moved to Chicago. Baker loved all kinds of hobbies. While I was taking a lesson, I heard that he was interested in keeping bees, so I told him I would help him with his bees in order to barter for lessons. Baker took me up on it and I had many memorable times at his house and with his bees in Brewster.
    The summer of 2001, I was heading from Chicago to Connecticut and on up to New Hampshire with may family for vacation. As we were passing Brewster on the Interstate, I tried calling Baker from my cell phone several times with no luck. I told my wife that I would see Baker at the flute convention in Las Vegas later that summer so that I would catch up with him then. The sad thing is that he died just before the convention. We never know when the last chance to see our friends, teachers and colleagues will be. I wish I was more persistent in stopping off to see him in Brewster on my trip.
    Baker gave wonderful advice. I miss him and my condolences go out to Ruth and his family. If any one would like to trade Baker stories, please e-mail me at
    Monty Adams

  7. Sergio Vainroj

    I usually heard Julius Baker’s records from childhood with my father. My father died on 23rd. august 2005. Memories of my father, chidhood and this fantastic flutist and person are things I remember together. And for ever.
    Sergio Vainroj

  8. Summer Jones

    dear Julius Baker,
    Was it hard at first lreaning how to play the flute? did you ever get mad and want to just quit? I whish I could ave meet you and learn more about you to! does anybody know were i could learn more about him?
    Did you play the flute just becaude your dad played the flute? Did you also know that i also play the flute! i whish i knew htathyou had relaesed 9 cd’s ealier, or i would have been out scoting for them. how was it preforming at a 200th birthday! i also did’t know that you teached at juliard.i still whish that i could meet you.
    Summer Jones 🙂

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