In 1952 Miss Doriot Anthony began her successful and critically acclaimed 38 year relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as the very first woman to win a principal chair in a major U.S. orchestra. Newspaper headlines of the day read: “Woman Crashes Boston Symphony: Eyebrows Lifted as Miss Anthony sat at Famous Flutist’s Desk” Boston Globe, 10/12/52 and “Flutist, 30 and Pretty, Here with Boston Symphony” Springfield Morning Union, 10/10/52. Comparisons are unavoidable between Doriot and her second cousin, famed suffragette Susan B. Anthony considering their kindred accomplishments.
Doriot’s musical education began at home listening to radio broadcasts of various orchestras from New York to Chicago. At the age of 8 she received her first lesson on flute from her mother Edith whom Doriot later described as being a “…prodigiously talented flutist.” Her mother encouraged her to be an “interesting” musician and “Never, never put yourself down because you are a female.” The likelihood of a female musician other than a harpist ever winning a principle chair on a major Orchestra in those days was nil, but with continued positive feedback, she pursued further study.
She progressed through a number of teachers, including Ernest Liegl, then Principle Flute in the Chicago Symphony. Twice a month for five years she would make the 5 hour trip, by train, to and from Liegl’s house for each lesson. When her application to attend the Curtis Institute of Music was rejected by their flute teacher, William Kincaid, she chalked it up to overconfidence and began private lessons with Kincaid instead. In 1939 the Eastman School of Music director, Howard Hanson, offered Doriot a scholarship to study under the esteemed Professor of Flute, Joseph Mariano.
Upon graduation from Eastman, Doriot immediately found work with the National Symphony as second flute followed by a series of other jobs including freelance work in New York City, performing on a radio program, and playing with a jazz band accompanying Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theater. Next, when a ballet troupe she was touring with folded, she found her skill at sight reading and her experience playing “modern music,” gained while at Eastman, led to lucrative work with recording studios in Los Angeles as well as performing on radio programs produced there.
Over her long career she would work with conductors such as Bruno Walter, Arthur Fiedler, Charles Munch and Leonard Bernstein just to name a few. She performed with the popular Hancock Ensemble, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic before making history by winning the position of First Flute with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.