As a flutist of extraordinary skill, Julius Baker distinguished himself in many musical roles: orchestral prinicipal, chamber player, soloist, teacher, and recording artist. In the latter realm he was prolific, appearing on hundreds of recordings, prompting more than a few of his admirers to observe that anyone who owned classical recordings almost certainly possessed several of Baker's. He played in the Cleveland Orchestra under Artur Rodzinski, the Columbia Symphony Orchestra under Bruno Walter, and the New York Philharmonic under Bernstein, Boulez, and Mehta, making numerous recordings with all parties. In addition, Baker played in chamber ensembles and with the leading soloists of the day, like Glenn Gould. He also taught at the Juilliard School of Music, Curtis Institute, and Carnegie Mellon University, and among his students were Paula Robison, Eugenia Zukerman, and Jeffrey Khaner. Baker' recordings of the Mozart concertos, and the complete flute outputs of J.S. Bach and Handel are still touchstones among connoisseurs of the repertory. And Baker was hardly less respected in Romantic and twentieth century repertory: he gave numerous concerts and made acclaimed recordings of works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Nielsen, Hindemith, and a clutch of composers contemporary to him, including Elie Siegmeister, Lennox Berkeley, Robert Muczynski, and countless others. Many of Baker's recordings are still available on Sony, EMI, Centaur, Titanic, and Vanguard.
Julius Baker was born in Cleveland, OH, on September 23, 1915. He began flute lessons at nine with his father, a good amateur player. Baker's advanced studies took place at the Curtis Institute, where his most important teacher was William Kincaid.
Baker graduated in 1937 and began playing with the Cleveland Orchestra that same year, staying on until 1941. Over the next several decades Baker mixed orchestral work in with freelancing in chamber and solo music, but his orchestral resumé as principal flutist alone was impressive: Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner (1941-1943), Chicago Symphony under Rafael Kubelik (1951-1953), and New York Philharmonic (1965-1983). In addition, Baker was active during this time in the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, a recording-only ensemble created by Columbia Records.
Baker was also a founding member of the Bach Aria Group, in which he performed from 1946-1964. Baker began teaching at Juilliard in 1954 and at the Curtis Institute in 1981. Baker remained active, especially as a teacher, for most of his remaining years. He died in Danbury, CT, on August 8, 2003.