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Curtis Mourns the Loss of Faculty Member and Renowned Pianist Seymour Lipkin ('47)

The Curtis Institute of Music is deeply saddened to share the news that beloved alumnus, renowned performer and conductor, and member of the piano faculty Seymour Lipkin passed away in Maine on November 16.

Remembering Mr. Lipkin, Curtis President Roberto Diaz reflects, "Seymour's passing is a terrible loss for the entire Curtis family. He has been associated with Curtis for nearly seventy years; his artistry and his great spirit have impacted generations of our students and faculty. Seymour was a world renowned pianist, a gifted conductor, and the many wonderful recordings he leaves behind will help us all to continue to celebrate his many gifts. He will be deeply, deeply missed."

Mr. Lipkin began his studies of piano at Curtis at the age of 11, receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from Curtis in 1947 after studying with Rudolf Serkin, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, and David Saperton. While still a student, he accompanied Jascha Heifetz on a recital tour of the European war zone in the spring of 1945. Just one year after graduation, at the age of 19, Mr. Lipkin won the Rachmaninoff Competition.

A legendary talent, during the course of his career he played with all of the major United States orchestras, earning particular acclaim for his Beethoven cycles, which have encompassed not only the thirty-two piano sonatas and five concertos, but the ten violin sonatas and five cello sonatas as well.

Beyond his numerous accomplishments as a pianist, Mr. Lipkin also studied conducting at Tanglewood with Serge Koussevitzky and was apprentice conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell. His conducting career included engagements at the New York City Opera, New York Philharmonic (assistant conductor, under Bernstein), Joffrey Ballet (music director), and Long Island Symphony (music director).

He was artistic director of the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Blue Hill, Me., and served as artistic director of the International Piano Festival and William Kapell Competition at the University of Maryland.

Mr. Lipkin joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1969. He won the Curtis Alumni Award in 2008.

Mr. Lipkin's spirit was unflagging; an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2012 portrays a masterful teacher and a still-vibrant artist, pushing himself, even late in his life, to reach new levels of artistic excellence. Mr. Lipkin will be remembered with great reverence by his students and colleagues, and by audiences around the world who enjoyed his prodigious musical gifts.
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