Curtis Mourns the Loss of Claude Frank, Piano Faculty
(December 29, 2014) Curtis mourns the loss of beloved faculty member and celebrated pianist Claude Frank, who passed away on December 27 at home in Manhattan. An artist with an international career, Mr. Frank nurtured dozens of Curtis pianists since joining the faculty in 1988. He also enjoyed coaching chamber music alongside his daughter, Pamela Frank (Violin '89), the Herbert R. and Evelyn Axelrod Chair in Violin Studies.
Read the Philadelphia Inquirer's tribute.
Remembering Claude Frank's impact, Robert Fitzpatrick, dean of Curtis from 1986 to 2009, reflected "What I remember most about Claude Frank is the elegant playing of his students who seemed to share his concept of tone production, his seemingly effortless technique, and his consummate ability to shape a phrase so that the listener felt a spirit of rightness without any hint of righteousness. Claude allowed each student to develop a special musical personality and I’m sure that most of them still hear his fatherly comments."
Mr. Frank began piano studies in his native Germany and continued in France and then the United States with Artur Schnabel and Karl Ulrich Schnabel. He studied composition at Columbia University and conducting with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood.
Following his debut with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in 1959, he performed with most of the major symphony orchestras in the United States, Europe, and South America and toured on six continents. He recorded all thirty-two Beethoven piano sonatas for RCA, as well as Mozart concertos and chamber music. He was also on the faculty of the Yale School of Music.
His wife was the late pianist Lilian Kallir. In addition to his daughter, Pamela, he is survived by his niece, Catherine Frank, and two nephews, Thomas Frank and Daniel Frank. A private memorial service will be held on Tuesday in New York City.
A consummate artist and dedicated teacher, Mr. Frank leaves behind many students, alumni, faculty, and staff that he has touched over the years. As we remember his life and artistry, we recall his advice to the graduating class of 2006: "Don’t be artistically satisfied, ever. It will always be better if you want it to be better."
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