September 5, 2013

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Hermann Klein Phono-Vocal Method Based Upon The Famous School Of Manuel Garcia (1909)

Herman Klein (1856-1934)
Quite the title, isn't it? Let me shed some light on it. 

I became the founding editor of VOICEPrints - The Official Journal of The New York Singing Teachers Association in 2003, holding the post for five years until relinquishing it to the very able Matthew Hoch, who has been at the helm ever since. While editor, I contributed a number of articles to the journal (which you can find in the right hand column of this blog), but had not written another another until Dr. Hoch graciously made an overture. I said yes, of course, and then thought about what I would write. It didn't take me long to decide. 

Ever present in my thoughts was a book I "discovered" almost by chance after attending a interview/masterclass given by Joan Sutherland in 1998. It informed my teaching and the lessons I received from Margaret Harshaw, clarifying what I knew of the studio practice of Anna E. Schoen-René, Manuel García and his sister Pauline Viardot-García. That is the professional way to say things. The real deal? Finding the Hermann Klein Phono-Vocal Method set my hair on fire, and I thought it time that other teachers and students of the voice knew about Klein's book.

The article has just been uploaded at The New York Singing Teachers Association website. You can find it here. It gives the reader a taste of a much longer 84-page document, one that was once considered lost. Its historic important should not be underestimated. Herman Klein (sharp readers will notice the variation in spelling of his first name) provides the reader with actual studio practice by virtue of having studied with García for four years; having taught voice for fourteen years at the Guildhall School of Music in London; and having founded the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Klein had a life-long association with García, and came to teach in New York with his blessing. (He wrote The Phono-Vocal Method while trying - and failing - to institute professional standards for singing teachers in America.) I can say without exaggeration, having researched a great number of texts, that there are only a handful that contain García's pedagogical fingerprints. This is one. Reading Klein's words, you feel as though you are having a lesson with the Master himself - a very rare thing indeed.  

I am preparing Hidden in Plain Sight: The Hermann Klein Phono-Vocal Method Based Upon The Famous School Of Manuel Garcia for publication later this Fall. My article will be expanded and Klein's original text presented in facsimile. My hope is that you will gain as much from it as I have.

Klein's "lost" work has come home - as it were - since he was the first chairman of the organization that now calls itself The New York Singing Teachers Association (NATS changed its name to NYSTA in 1917, while the current NATS was founded in 1944). I am honored to reintroduce Klein's historic book to members of NYSTA and readers here. 

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