Gomberg joined the BSO in 1950 and held the principal chair for 37 years, until his retirement. During many of those years, his brother Harold was principal oboist with the New York Philharmonic.
The seven siblings in the unusually musical Gomberg family also included Robert, a violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, and Leo, a principal trumpeter for the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra and Leonard Bernstein's New York City Center Symphony. One of the sisters, Ciel, was a violin soloist under contract at NBC, while another sister, Edyth, was a cellist who married George Zazofsky, a longtime member of the BSO violin section. Ralph, the youngest, was the last surviving Gomberg sibling.
The family moved from Boston to Philadelphia to allow Robert to study at the Curtis Institute of Music, from which five of the siblings eventually earned degrees. Harold began studying oboe with famed teacher Marcel Tabuteau. To save money, Ralph initially studied with Harold, according to the Times, before being accepted as a pupil of Tabuteau at 14.
After studying at Curtis, Ralph Gomberg was appointed principal oboist of the All-American Youth Orchestra. Following a stint in the Navy in World War II, he took up principal oboe positions in the Baltimore Symphony, the New York City Center Orchestra under Bernstein, and the Mutual Broadcasting Orchestra before joining the BSO in 1950.
Gomberg was also a founding member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and taught at New England Conservatory and Boston University.
He died at a hospice in Whelan, Massachusetts from a rare neuromuscular disease similar to Lou Gehrig's disease, according to the Times.