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Cleveland Orchestra mourns a principal tuba

Ronald T. Bishop, principal tuba of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1967 to 2005, has died on 25 July, 2013 aged 79.

Here’s the orchestra’s obituary.

Ronald T. Bishop

1934 -2013


Principal Tuba, The Cleveland Orchestra,



ron tuba


The family is saddened to announce the passing of musician and educator Ronald T. Bishop from complications related to Myeloma and Leukemia in Cleveland on 25 July, 2013.


He is survived by his beloved wife of 48 years, Marie (Milburn), son Christopher and Sharon (Sirois) of Boca Raton, FL and beautiful granddaughter “Isabella” who will forever remember her loving “Poppa”. He also leaves his brother: Larry (Ellie) in San Francisco, his sister-in-law, June (Milburn) and Vincent Dupuis of Courtenay, BC., with  many friends in the music community and on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada.


Ron met the love of his life Marie Milburn of Victoria, BC, a violinist when they both worked in San Francisco in 1965-66. He was with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and Marie was Kurt Adler’s Admin Assistant.


Ron will be remembered as a devoted husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, and friend to all who had the good fortune to know him.  His personally developed skills extended from the diving board to his canoe, to his golf clubs and even a stint as crew on a west coast salmon troller, where he provided foghorn services on tuba. But his greatest professional success came in music.


Ron had a lifelong passion for playing the tuba



He began at 7 years of age, when the tuba weighed almost as much as he did!  He would tow it behind him on a little red wagon to lessons.


But his interests and talents were diverse. In college, Ron excelled in both music and athletics. A New York state diving champion, Ron earned a Bachelor of Music degree and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Science degree from the University of Illinois.


Ron became one of the most influential and respected tuba performers in the world, He performed as principal tuba and soloist with the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra for 38 years.

He was personally invited to Cleveland in 1967 by their internationally respected conductor George Szell. He played and recorded under every conductor since then.


He also served as a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra – where he met Marie – and the United States Army Field Band.


As an internationally acclaimed artist, Ron appeared in numerous recitals and clinics throughout the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom.  He authored extensively concerning the tuba and the arts in general, published in The Brass Bulletin, “Arnold Jacobs: Legacy of a Master“, and was an associate editor for the T.U.B.A. Journal  among others.  He was also an avid supporter and performer with the Performers and Artists for Nuclear Disarmament. Ron shared his vast knowledge and skill, teaching and inspiring countless students while on the faculty of both the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.


Ron continued to teach on these faculties throughout his illness until the end of their school year in Spring 2013.


In counterpoint to his astonishing professional achievements, a special part of “The Bishops” lives was spent in their rustic, self-made “Cabin” on Ruxton Island in the Gulf Islands of Canada’s West Coast.   Ron and Marie found their property by canoe in 1966 and erected their cedar cabin there in 1967. Prior to the Cleveland Orchestra’s Blossom Festival Summer Season “The Bishops” always insisted on spending a month on ‘the Island’.  For years, Ron could be heard practicing his “Tuba on the Rocks” preparing for Blossom.  Their son, Christopher, grew up spending many childhood years on the rocks and in the water with his “Pa”.   Marie and Ron even spent time on their last visit there in 2012, both fighting health issues, but allowing nothing to keep them from “their Island”


At Ron’s request there are  no services planned at this time  and his ashes will be spread near their cabin on Ruxton Island, BC.


All who were privileged to encounter his charismatic charm and/or perform in collaboration with him in the concert hall will forever and fondly remember Ron Bishop.




The family has requested no telephone calls 

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  1. Gene Patrick Johnson says:

    I did not know Mr. Bishop but I have always been a devoted fan of the Cleveland Orchestra, especially the brass section: I played the French Horn in several “2nd rank” civic orchestras, as well as my school orchestras in Florida State and Indiana Universities. I am sure the Cleveland Orchestra will miss him very much, as will brass players all over the world.

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