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Matthay, Tobias (Augustus)

Matthay, Tobias (Augustus)

Matthay, Tobias (Augustus) , eminent English pianist and pedagogue; b. London, Feb. 19, 1858; d. High Marley, near Haslemere, Surrey, Dec. 14, 1945. He began to play the piano at the age of 6, and was taught by private teachers. In 1871 he entered the Royal Academy of Music in London as a pupil of Dorrell (piano). He won the Sterndale Bennett scholarship, and continued to study piano (with Macfarren). He took courses with Sterndale Bennett, and, after the latter’s death (1875), completed his studies with Ebenezer Prout and Arthur Sullivan. He subsequently was on the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music as a sub-prof. (1876–80) and full prof. (1880–1925); in 1900 he established his own piano school in London. The Matthay System, as his teaching method was known, stressed mastery of both the psychological and physiological aspects of piano performance; it became famous not only in England but on the Continent and in America. Students flocked to him and carried his method abroad. Matthay also composed In May, an overture, Piano Quartet, numerous piano pieces, and songs.


(all publ. in London unless otherwise given):The Art of Touch in All Its Diversity (1903); The First Principles of Pianoforte Playing (1905; 2nd ed., rev., 1906); Relaxation Pianoforte Playing (Leipzig, 1908); Some Commentaries on the Teaching of Pianoforte Technique (1911); The Child’s First Steps in Pianoforte Playing (1912); The Fore-arm Rotation Principle in Pianoforte Playing (1912); Musical Interpretation (1913); On Method in Teaching (1921); An Epitome of the Laws of Pianoforte Technique (1931); The Visible and Invisible in Pianoforte Technique (1932; 2nd ed., rev., 1947); etc.


J. Henderson Matthay, The Life and Work of T.M. (London, 1945); A. Coviello, What M. Meant (London, 1948).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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