Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kincaid - Father of American Flute School

For me, the letter K elicits the immediate response – William Kincaid. He was the principle flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and taught at the Curtis Institute for the majority of his career.

Born in Minneapolis in 1911, he studied flute with Georges Barrere at the Institute of Musical Art. After a stint in the Navy, he spent the rest of his working career in Philadelphia.

Kincaid required his students to keep notes of their lessons, and when I was going to school copies of those notes floated throughout academia, from student to student and school to school. Interestingly they were all quite similar. His teaching method was organized and addressed musical phrasing with a system of numbers that referred to the order of importance of a note. At one point, the majority of flutists in American orchestras had all studied with William Kincaid.

Unfortunately, I never studied with Kincaid, but my teachers were all former Kincaid students. I was just one generation beyond his personal scope. He retired from the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1960, and I entered college in 1962.  That said, his influence on American flute playing was broad and covered the the flute world for over half a century.

Keeping in mind that recording technology was less advanced in Kincaid's day, I was delighted to discover this You Tube link;
it is Kincaid and the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun - a staple in every flutist's repertoire that is included on every orchestral audition today.


  1. Now, when I hear "Kincaid" I think of the painter. Must be something special about the name that endows greatness.

  2. When I think of Kincaid I think of Reuben Kincaide, the manager of TV's Partridge Family.

  3. I'm listening to the audio as I post this. It's beautiful. I love the flute, my daughter began playing when she was young, but gave up to my disappointment. I hope she'll take it up again someday.

    Sue: An A-Z of Climate Matters

  4. A great theme for your A-Z Challenge.

    Visiting via A-Z (Anglers Rest)