The Application of Tobias Matthay’s Teachings to the Playing of York Bowen’s Twelve Studies: A Practitioner’s Perspective

Oliver She

Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University

Context 47 (2021): 1–13.

Published online: 31 Jan. 2022


Across the body of piano repertoire that falls under the ‘etude’ genre, few were written with a specific body of piano pedagogical literature in mind. One such example is English composer York Bowen’s Twelve Studies (1916), one of the lesser known cycle of etudes in the piano repertoire.  The titles Bowen appended to these studies as well as the technical aspects explored in them point to a connection with the pedagogical teachings of English piano pedagogue Tobias Matthay.  This article will examine these studies through the lens of my personal experience preparing this repertoire for performance, and will disseminate insights gained through this preparation process regarding how specific concepts Matthay espoused in his teachings tie in with the explicit and implicit technical focus of these studies, and may be applied in practice.  Following a brief introduction to Bowen, the studies, and Matthay, the main section of this article explores eleven of the twelve studies that contain direct and/or indirect references to Matthay’s concepts, before concluding with some general reflections.  The purpose of this article is to offer some pedagogical insight on this repertoire, and possible guidance for performers and teachers who may wish to study these works, in spite of these insights coming from a personal perspective.  Additionally, since these studies are presently not very well known in pianistic circles and literature is scarce, it is hoped that this article will help nurture further scholarly investigation into this repertoire.

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