Tobias Matthay (1858-1945) was an eminent British piano pedagogue, pianist, and composer. Born in London, his early studies took place at the Royal Academy of Music. He joined the faculty of that school in 1880, continuing there until 1925. He also opened his own school which attracted hundreds students from throughout the United Kingdom and beyond. Matthay’s reputation was based partly on his extensive publications dealing with aspects of piano technique and interpretation. His most famous work was titled The Act of Touch in All Its Diversity; its first edition appeared in 1903. Matthay’s preoccupation with the physical and anatomical elements of piano playing generated much positive interest as well as considerable controversy. Not least of his accomplishments was the caliber of players whom he guided toward successful careers: Dame Myra Hess, Irene Scharrer, Harriet Cohen, Dame Moura Lympany, Denise Lassimonne, Eileen Joyce, York Bowen and Sir Clifford Curzon among them.
Matthay was also active as an occasional performer in public and as a composer with many published works. His output is chiefly for the piano. A detailed, scholarly study of Matthay’s life and career appeared in 2011: England’s Piano Sage by Stephen Siek (Scarecrow Press).
IPAM’s Matthay Collection consists of a nearly-complete assemblage of his published piano works, five songs for voice and piano, and copies of his pedagogical publications. These materials were donated by the late James Matthew Holloway through the good offices of Theodore Guerrant, and were originally in the possession of Denise Lassimonne. Of particular interest is the fact that many of the scores contain corrections, editorial markings and comments by Matthay himself.