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TOBIAS MATTHAY

Eminent English pianist, teacher and composer Tobias Matthay (1858–1945) studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music, first with William Dorrell. After winning the Sterndale Bennett scholarship, Matthay continued his studies with Sir George Macfarren, took masterclasses from Sir William Sterndale Bennett, and after Sterndale Bennett’s death in 1875 completed his studies with Ebenezer Prout and Sir Arthur Sullivan. Matthay joined the faculty of the Royal Academy, remaining there as full professor until 1925. In 1900 he established his piano school in London. Stressing what eventually became known as The Matthay System, the school became an enormous success and students flocked to him and carried his teaching methods abroad. Matthay’s teaching method stressed mastery of both the psychological and physiological aspects of piano performance. His teaching instilled in his students knowledge of the causes of all good effects and bad effects, technical and musical. He stressed methods of relaxation and always taught that musical performance is the constant search for the Beautiful. He published many books on piano technique and piano playing principles. Among his most famous students are Dame Myra Hess, Ray Lev, Eileen Joyce, Nina Milkina, Denise Lassimonne, Eunice Norton, Bruce Simonds (who also co-founded the American Matthay Association), Ernest Lush, Betty Humby, Raie da Costa, Hilda Dederich, Rae Robertson, York Bowen, Harriet Cohen, Evelyn Howard-Jones, Harold Craxton, Irene Scharrer, among many others. As a composer Matthay left a legacy of over 45 works with opus numbers, mostly for the piano. As a pianist, he only left one 78 rpm recording made in London on 16 November 1929, that features the Prelude and Bravura (Finale), from his Studies in the form of a Suite, Op 16 (1910) and two selections from On Surrey Hills, Op 30 (1919), Twilight Hills and Wind-Sprites.

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