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England's Piano Sage: The Life and Teachings of Tobias Matthay

England's Piano Sage: The Life and Teachings of Tobias Matthay

by Stephen Siek


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Pianist and teacher Tobias Matthay (1858-1945) widely believed that science could unlock the secrets of artistic success. Thus began a program of musical instruction and writing on piano technique that bespoke his reverence for observation and reasoning in the playing of piano. His students would later include major concert pianists of the post-World War I era-York Bowen, Dame Myra Hess, Sir Clifford Curzon, Harriet Cohen, Eileen Joyce, and Dame Moura Lympany-who advanced British pianism in the 20th century. In England's Piano Sage, scholar and pianist Stephen Siek tells the story of Matthay, who began teaching at London's Royal Academy of Music in 1880 and two decades later had so many students that he had to open his own piano school in London. After World War I, student enrollments approached some 500 students, and no conservatory in the world produced so many finished pianists. By 1925 his towering status in Britain reached across the Atlantic with the founding of the American Matthay Association and the adoption of his ideas by Yale and Juilliard. From these heights, Matthay's reputation would experience a precipitous fall, from his forced resignation from the Royal Academy to the barrage of criticism attacking his theories. Rich in detail, Siek's book chronicles the personal and professional story of a remarkable man whose monumental achievements now largely lay forgotten but clearly deserve a second look. In this comprehensive biography, Siek offers a modern reassessment of Matthay's contribution, exploring not only the great piano theorist's life but also his musical compositions, writings on piano technique, relationship to the Royal Academy of Music, his successful piano school on London's Wimpole Street, and the many world-famous pianists he would come to train on both sides of the Atlantic. Drawing on archival documentation, including dozens of letters that have never before seen print, England's Piano Sage will be of interest to music historians, piano enthusiasts, and professional musicians, who will find in Siek's narrative both the story of a great theorist and the history of the theoretical tradition of piano technique.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810881617
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/23/2011
Pages: 472
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Stephen Siek is a pianist and musicologist with an extensive background in the teaching principles of Tobias Matthay. He is professor of music at Wittenberg University.

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