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Piano Quartet in One Movement, Op.20

Composer: Matthay Tobias

Instruments: Violin Viola Cello Piano

Tags: Quartet

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Piano Score PDF 5 MBViolin PDF 0 MBViola PDF 0 MBCello PDF 0 MB
Tobias Augustus Matthay (19 February 1858 – 15 December 1945) was an English pianist, teacher, and composer.
Matthay was born in Clapham, Surrey, in 1858 to parents who had come from northern Germany and eventually became naturalised British subjects. He studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music under Sir William Sterndale Bennett and Arthur Sullivan, and piano with William Dorrell and Walter Macfarren. He served as a sub-professor there from 1876–1880, and became an assistant professor of pianoforte in 1880, before being promoted to professor in 1884. With Frederick Corder and John Blackwood McEwen, he co-founded the Society of British Composers in 1905. Matthay remained at the RAM until 1925, when he was forced to resign because McEwen—his former student who was then the Academy's Principal—publicly attacked his teaching.
In 1903, after over a decade of observation, analysis, and experimentation, he published The Act of Touch, an encyclopedic volume that influenced piano pedagogy throughout the English-speaking world. So many students were soon in quest of his insights that two years later he opened the Tobias Matthay Pianoforte School, first in Oxford Street, then in 1909 relocating to Wimpole Street, where it remained for the next 30 years. He soon became known for his teaching principles that stressed proper piano touch and analysis of arm movements. He wrote several additional books on piano technique that brought him international recognition, and in 1912 he published Musical Interpretation, a widely read book that analyzed the principles of effective musicianship. Many of his pupils went on to define a school of 20th century English pianism, including York Bowen, Myra Hess, Clifford Curzon, Harold Craxton, Moura Lympany, Irene Scharrer, Lilias Mackinnon, Guy Jonson, Vivian Langrish, Eileen Joyce, jazz "syncopated" pianist Raie Da Costa, Harriet Cohen, Dorothy Howell, and Bartlett and Robertson. He taught many Americans, including Ray Lev, Eunice Norton, and Lytle Powell, and he was also the teacher of Canadian pianist Harry Dean, English composer Arnold Bax and English conductor Ernest Read.
His wife Jessie née Kennedy, whom he married in 1893, wrote a biography of her husband, published posthumously in 1945. She was a sister of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser. She was born in 1869 and died in 1937. Tobias Matthay died at his country home, High Marley, near Haslemere in 1945, aged 87.
Matthay's larger scale compositions and virtuoso piano works were all written between the 1870s and 1890s before he focused instead on piano technique and teaching. They include two symphonies, some concert overtures and several piano concertante works. They were forgotten for many years, resurfacing at a Sotheby's manuscript auction on 30 November 2006, won by the Royal Academy of Music. Of these works, only the symphonic overture In May (1883) and the one movement Concert Piece in A minor for piano and orchestra (begun about 1883 and revised till about 1908) gained much contemporary attention. The Concert Piece became his most popular large scale work, although its London premiere at the Proms had to wait 25 years before its first performance, on 28 August 1909. The soloist was York Bowen, and it was then performed at the Proms by Vivian Langrish in 1914, in 1919, and 1920 and again in 1925 by Matthay's student Betty Humby, who later became Betty Humby Beecham after she married Thomas Beecham). Myra Hess also performed it under Matthay's baton at Queen's Hall on 18 July 1922 in the presence of the King and Queen for the Royal Academy of Music Centennial Celebration.
Matthay also wrote chamber music (most notably the Piano Quartet, op.20 of 1882), a small amount of songs, and a great deal of piano music. His 31 Variations and Derivations on an Original Theme for piano, written in 1891 and revised till 1918, was one of his last important early period works. Showing the influence of both Liszt and Wagner, it was considered harmonically daring when first composed. The work is in two parts, the second growing increasingly complex. During and after the First World War Matthay returned to piano composition, but abandoned his previously complex style in favour of short character pieces closer in spirit to Schumann's pieces for children. In 1933 he recorded some of these, including Twilight Hills and Wind Sprites from the 1919 suite On Surrey Hills, op.30, as well as the older Prelude and the highly demanding "Bravura" from Studies in the Form of a Suite (1887)
A nearly complete collection of the published piano works is held at the International Piano Archives at the University of Maryland. It was donated by the late James Matthew Holloway from papers originally in the possession of the pianist and favourite Mathay student Denise Lassimonne (1903–1994), whom Matthay took in after the death of her father, later naming her his ward and heir Many of the scores contain corrections, editorial markings and comments by Matthay himself.
Piano Works (selected)