Obituary: soprano and vocal pedagogue Phyllis Curtin, 94

Posted on: June 7, 2016

“Phyllis Curtin, the renowned soprano and longtime Tanglewood teacher, died yesterday at her home” in western Massachusetts, writes Andrew Pincus in Sunday’s (6/5) Berkshire Eagle (Massachusetts). For 51 years, Curtain “taught her master classes [that] attracted students from around the world…. She was proudest of her role as a pioneering recitalist, championing American music.” She also had a “two-decade second career in academic deanships, first at Yale and then at Boston University…. Phyllis Smith was born on Dec. 3, 1921, to church musicians in Clarksburg, W.Va…. She majored in political science at Wellesley College, taking singing lessons on the side.… In 1946, she spent the first of three Tanglewood summers as a student singing in [Boris] Goldovsky’s Tanglewood productions. Among them, in 1946, was the American premiere of Benjamin Britten’s momentous ‘Peter Grimes,’ with the young Leonard Bernstein conducting…. Curtin made her New York recital debut in 1950 and New York City Opera debut in 1953” as Fraulein Burstner/Frau Grubach/Leni in Gottfried von Einem’s The Trial…. Among Curtin’s signature roles [was] Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah … composed … for her…. Tanglewood feted her with a 90th-birthday tribute at the Tanglewood-on-Parade gala in 2011.” Curtin is survived by a daughter, Claudia d’Alessandro, and three grandchildren.

Posted June 7, 2016