Matthay Festival 2023

Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pennsylvania

June 28-July 1, 2023


Welcoming remarks and morning reception
Richard Masters

An Encyclopedia of American Pianists, from the 1800s to the Present

This presentation explores Masters's forthcoming book An Encyclopedia of American Classical Pianists, from the 1800s to the Present which features a number of Matthay pupils including Lyell Barbour, Ray Lev, Frank Mannheimer, Eunice Norton, and Bruce Simonds.

Masters will discuss the connection of these pupils to Matthay, detailing their subsequent careers, and sharing rare recordings with attendees. He will also speak about the book itself, a major reference work designed to complement Stephen Siek's A Dictionary for the Modern Pianist, and David Dubal’s The Art of the Piano.

Ivy Lu Wang

Matthay Core: "York Bowen and the Forearm Rotation Principle: Applications of Matthay"

An illustration of Matthay's rotation principle with applications from his student York Bowen, who taught at the Tobias Matthay Piano School for over forty years. His Twelve Studies for the Pianoforte, op.46 (1919), contextualized the teachings of his teacher Matthay. These studies were dedicated to Matthay, a reflection of Bowen’s admiration for his former mentor. Each of Bowen's studies deals with a different aspect of piano technique discussed in Matthay's books.

We will look into Bowen’s piano music, to better understand Matthay’s teaching philosophy. In cooperation with proper finger movement, body movement and a good use of weight, these techniques provide the foundation for a healthy and scientific piano technique, enabling piano students to sustain a lifelong ability in playing piano.

Jim Lees

George Enescu: Suite No. 3, Pièces Impromptues, op. 18

Inexplicably, the piano music George Enescu (1881-1955) is sadly neglected outside his home country of Romania, and much of it is out of print. To help remedy that, I'd like to offer a presentation of his uniquely colorful Suite No. 3, Piéces Impromptues, which consists of seven short pieces, and I'll share a few personal insights.

10:00 Jennifer Shoup

Matthay Core:"An Exploration of Matthay Principles as They Intersect with Frances Clark's 'The Music Tree' Series"

  An exploration of the pedagogical principles of the American Matthay Association as they intersect with Frances Clark’s "Music Tree" series. Clark’s pedagogical teachings, including a curriculum of both group and private instruction, has been the cornerstone of the Carnegie Mellon Preparatory School as well as The Piano Preparatory School (Dayton) Beginning Piano Program.

The ability to intertwine "The Music Tree" with the First Steps and "From Fist to Fingers" is seamless. This presentation will highlight these intersections, include historical references from previous Matthay presentations, and offer current examples featuring students of The Piano Preparatory School program.

Julian Hellaby

"Thoughts On English Pianism After Matthay"

Tobias Matthay, England’s foremost piano pedagogue in the earlier years of the twentieth century, exercised a huge influence over the national musical landscape, one that lasted well beyond his death in 1945. Much has been written about the man himself, notably by Stephen Siek in his detailed biography (2012), but there is less about the period that followed Matthay and whether his influence lingered on in any significant way or simply fragmented and faded away.

The presentation will be illustrated by vintage recordings of English pianists such as Moura Lympany, Denis Matthews and Valerie Tryon.

John Novak

Lecture/Recital: "With Love from Z to A: Fibich’s 'Love Diary' for Piano"

Zdeněk Fibich (1850-1900) was a leading composer of Czech music in the later nineteenth century. Although his operas and other works are still performed regularly in the Czech Republic, his music is little known in the United States. Among his most remarkable works is the collection of 376 piano pieces in four sets that he collectively called Moods, Impressions and Reminiscences. These pieces are miniature tone poems, all of which deal with Fibich’s lover and former piano student, Aněžka Schulzová. While some of the pieces describe episodes in their lives together, many of them attempt to illustrate Aněžka’s physical attributes from head to toe, one piece at a time. These intensely personal and sensual miniatures form a diary that Fibich “kept” for nine years.
Terry McRoberts

Lecture/Recital: "Cohen, Bax, and Matthay"

Harriet Cohen and Arnold Bax were students of Tobias Matthay. While Bax was an excellent sight reader, his main emphasis was on musical composition as well as poetry, and most of his piano works were dedicated to Cohen. Matthay composed an extensive body of works that is mainly neglected today, and this was one of the disappointments of his life. Cohen performed extensively, and her repertoire included a substantial amount of contemporary repertoire as well as transcriptions. This session will include discussions and performances of pieces composed by Bax and Matthay, and arrangements of Bach by Howells and Walton dedicated to Cohen. The discussion will include musical characteristics, pianistic features, and the presenter’s approach to learning and playing them. Biographies, works written by the three, as well as related books will shed light on the music, the relationships, and legacy of the three.

Repertoire to be performed and discussed:

Bax: "The Maiden with the Daffodil"
Bax: "Nereid"
Matthay: Barcarolle, op. 26, no. 5
Bach/Herbert Howells: "O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross"
Bach/William Walton: "Herzlich tut mich verlangen"

11:00 Steven Herbert Smith

Lecture/Recital: "Robert To Clara: A Love Letter, the Fantasia Opus 17"

It’s no secret that Robert Schumann composed several of his greatest piano works for the much younger woman who later became his wife, Clara Wieck, and that the Fantasia, Opus 17 is most closely entwined with their love story. It was composed in 1836, around the same time that the twenty-six year-old composer was forced by Friedrich Wieck to leave the Wieck household and his budding romance with Clara, who was not yet seventeen. These facts are well known, but not fully and widely understood by most listeners. In this presentation, I fully explain the leitmotive (not the main theme, but a recurring bridge), borrowed from Beethoven, that binds together the first movement; I discuss the content of the other two movements as well, and perform the work in toto.

In Memoriam:

Remembering Donald Hageman (1934-2022);

A Tribute from his Students

For over half a century, Don Hageman was the virtual lifeblood of the American Matthay Association, and he was a tireless advocate of Matthay's principles. Six of his students—all longtime members of the Association—will share their remembrances, and each will play a short piece they studied with him, illustrative of his teaching.

Camden Dell Grote

Chopin: Prelude in B minor, op. 28, no. 6
Jim Lees

Enescu: "Mazurk mélancolique," from Suite No. 3

Terry McRoberts

Poulenc: Mélancolie, FP. 105

Nancy Perrin

Brahms: Intermezzo in B minor, op. 119, no. 1

Jennifer Shoup

Profofieff: "Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell" from Romeo and Juliet, op. 75, no. 10

Stephen Siek

Debussy: Danse


"Matthay at the Intersection"

Exploring the intersections of Matthay's ideas with the "Russian School": Where are they similar, and where are they distinct?


Julian Hellaby
Alexander Kobrin
John Perry
Stephen Siek:
Nicholas Susi

Steven Herbert Smith, moderator

(NOTE: This session begins at 11:15)

Barton Moreau


Signe Sebo Zale

Matthay Core: "It's what you hear, not what you see!"

Barton Moreau and Signe Zale will discuss Matthay's principles as found in The Visible and Invisible in Pianoforte Technique (1932), applied to their performances of the Debussy Toccata from Pour le Piano, and the Ravel Valses nobles et sentimentales.
12:15               LUNCH
           (on your own)


2:00 Recital by the Winners of the 2023

Clara Wells Fellowship Awards

Ningxin Zhan


Yi Chang

Richard Becker

Lecture/Recital: Richard Becker: "Nine Inventions to the Muses" (2022)

The "Inventions" were an offshoot of recent research I did for my poems related to the Scylla Myth soon to be completed. They were begun in 2021, finished in 2022, and presented at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts during two separate month-long VCCA residencies. Chopin, Schumann, Debussy and Stravinsky have been strong influences. I'll also be performing my "Nocturne" (1991) from Seven Piano Fantasies of which the Nocturne is fifth. It was composed at and after a two-month residency at MacDowell Colony.

Alexander Kobrin

Master Class with the Winners of the 2023 Clara Wells Fellowship Awards
Bradford Gowen

Lecture/Recital: "The Piano Music of Samuel Adler"

Publshed in October of 2022 by the University of Rochester Press, Bradford Gowen's A Performer's Guide to the Piano Music of Samuel Adler is a comprehensive study of the piano music of this award-winning American composer, and it is designed to interest pianists, teachers, and anyone interested in the musical art of our day. Written with enthusiasm, insights, and meticulous suggestions for the pianist who would practice and perform his music, it surveys all the piano works by the renowned composer, from concertos and other virtuosic concert works to short pieces for students. The book's author will guide us through his new book, as well as the music of this fascinating composer.


Officers and Directors Meeting of the AMAP
(Meeting lasts from 3:30 to 5:00)

Stephen Siek:

"Matthay, the Spencerian"

Like most professional musicians of his day, Matthay did not attend a university, but he was an ardent auto-didact who read profusely, and the ethos of Darwin, Maxwell, Faraday, and Huxley helped shape his formative years. But he also absorbed the precepts of Darwin’s most influential ally, the philosopher Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), and like Spencer, he believed that the burgeoning discipline of Psychology was also a science—a science that promised unprecedented enlightenment in the realm of education.

This presentation will examine the writings of Spencer that Matthay most revered and that proved most influential on his career as an analyst and educator. His study of Spencer spanned nearly 30 years before he even published his first major work, and—as will be shown—it is no coincidence that The Act of Touch bears a Spencerian motto: “There can be no effect without a cause.”

Master Class continues

4:00 Officers and Directors Meeting, cont.

Annual Meeting of the AMAP
Lia Jensen-Abbott

Lecture/Recital: "Let’s Dance: Diabelli, Beethoven, Carter Pann, and Two Hundred Years of a Viennese Waltz"

In 1819 Anton Diabelli composed a Waltz and sent it to the eighty-three famous composers working in Vienna. Beethoven initially cast aside Diabelli’s waltz, later writing his own set, Op. 120. Fifty composers responded to Diabelli’s request, creating a second set of variations. The latter set has remarkable historical significance: Diabelli’s project was at once a nationalistic monument, as well as a philanthropic component—the proceeds were dedicated to charity. It is also an archaeological artifact—telling the cultural and musical history of Vienna during that period. Diabelli’s theme is a manifestation of Viennese high society—the beloved waltz. Some of the composers are still in the canon and performed today, such as Franz Liszt and Schubert. Many other names have fallen into obscurity, and this musical document becomes a fascinating clue about their contributions to Viennese musical culture.

To that end, in the spirit of Diabelli’s innovative musical experiment, new variations have been commissioned. This presentation, combining several of Diabelli’s variations, Beethoven’s variations, and the new variations, including one by Pulitzer Prize Finalist Carter Pann, and many other prominent composers will be interwoven around discussions about creative compositional solutions, Viennese culture, and what the new variations achieve as art reflecting society.

Christopher Guzman

Tania León (b.1943): Tumbao 
Tania León: Rondó a la Criolla

Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942): Five Jazz Etudes

      I. Charleston
      II. Blues
      III. Chanson
      IV. Tango
      V. Toccata based on Confrey's "Kitten on the Keys"

Chopin: Mazurka in E minor, op. 41, no. 1
Chopin: Polonaise in F-sharp minor, op. 44

J. S. Bach: English Suite in G minor, BWV 808

      Gavotte and Musette

Granados: From Goyescas

      Quejas, o la maja y el ruiseñor 
      Los Requiebros

7:30 Nicholas Susi

          "A Little Night Music"

Carlos Simon (b. 1986): Sleep Well
Chopin: Nocturne in C-sharp minor, op. 27, no. 1
Chopin: Nocturne in D-flat, op. 27, no. 2
Wagner/Liszt: Two Scenes from Tannhäuser:
Pilgrim's Chorus;
Recitative and Romance "Evening Star"
The Beatles/Takemitsu: "Golden Slumbers"
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Alexander Kobrin

Beethoven: 32 Variations in C minor, WoO 80
Beethoven: Fantasia in G minor, op. 77
Beethoven: Sonata in F-sharp, op. 78
Beethoven: Sonata in G, op. 79
Rachmaninoff: Etudes tableaux, op. 39 (complete)

Heather Lanners

Rameau: "Le Rappel des oiseaux"
Rameau: "La Poule"
Glinka/Balakirev: "L'Alouette"
Ravel: "Oiseaux tristes" from Miroirs
Gregory Mertl (b. 1969): "3 a.m. Nightingale"
    from Pears on a Sill
Gershwin/Wild: "The Man I Love"
Gershwin/Wild: "Fascinatin' Rhythm"
Gershwin/Wild: "Embraceable You"
Gregory Mertl: Pictures Without an Exhibition
    I. Lento misterioso; Air
    II. "La Poule"; Air 2
    III. Scherzo; Air 3
    IV. "Languorous Clouds"; Air 4
    V. Ballade


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Last Updated on 6/8/2023
by Stephen Siek