Seymour Lipkin recommends Marcel Tabuteau

Curtis Institute of Music Library

Pianist Seymour Lipkin has been a presence at the Curtis Institute for nearly 75 years, first as a student and then as a member of our faculty. The library holds approximately 68 recordings featuring his playing, from his 1941 student recital to last year’s faculty performance. A regular library visitor, Mr. Lipkin has his favorite items. One recording he frequently requests be held for his students is CD-3822, a collection of lessons taught by Marcel Tabuteau.

But wait, Tabuteau is an oboe player! Lessons included in this CD cover topics such as wind control, breath, and articulation. Sure, Tabuteau was a prominent member of Curtis’s faculty from 1924 to 1953, served as principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1915 to 1954 under Leopold Stokowski, and he is widely considered the founder of the American school of oboe playing. [Let’s stop to consider the weight of that for a moment. Set the standard of oboe playing by which American orchestras are judged: Tabuteau. Member of the orchestra that essentially created what is nationally known as “The Philadelphia Sound”: yep, him again.] These are impressive credentials, but what can Tabuteau teach pianists? Mr. Lipkin explains:

“Tabuteau had a profound insight into phrasing, and a unique method of analyzing and specifying how to direct and color the insides of phrases. The result of using his method is an unparalleled expressivity and liveliness of phrasing. He had a major influence on the thought of anyone studying with him. We are lucky he put them down in these CDs. After all these years, I still think about his ideas all the time and strongly recommend them to all musicians.”

There you have it: phrasing, expression, color, and energy. Sound like concepts universal to musical performance? Plus, Tabuteau was beloved at Curtis for being a fantastic teacher and coach. Good teachers have a way of encouraging their students personally as well as professionally.

Take the advice of one of Curtis’s finest by learning from another of its finest. Have a listen to Marcel Tabuteau’s Lessons and discover his teachings for yourself.