Elaine Shaffer

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Flutist, Elaine Shaffer (1925-1973), attended the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of William Kincaid. She attended Tabuteau’s obligatory wind classes, developing a personal relationship with the Tabuteaus following her graduation in 1947. She played a season as second flute in the Kansas City Philharmonic (1947–1948) moving on as principal of the Houston Symphony Orchestra where she also appeared as soloist. As this was the 1940s, women had just begun to find positions in orchestras, making Shaffer something of a trail-blazer. The music director at the time was Efrem Kurtz who she later married.  After holding the principal flutist’s chair in Houston for five years (1948–1953), she left to pursue a career as a soloist and chamber musician (another first for an American woman). She performed at many festivals in Europe, and worked closely with violinist Yehudi Menuhin, pianist Hephzibah Menuhin, and harpsichordist George Malcolm. She premiered works by Ernest Bloch and Aaron Copland and made a number of fine recordings before her untimely death.

The three letters below relate to Tabuteau’s passing in January of 1966. The first (from Elaine to her mother) laments Tabuteau’s death (pages 2-3). The second letter sent two days later (from Elaine to her sister, Beverly) also references Tabuteau. The third is from her close friend, Laila Storch, expressing the shock of Tabuteau’s passing. This letter contains an interesting reference to Tabuteau tapes.

January 9, 1966

Elaine Shaffer to her mother

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Vienna,  January 11, 1966

Elaine Shaffer to her sister, Beverly

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 January 14, 1966

Laila Storch to Elaine Shaffer

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