Katherine Hoover, a composer of flute music and other works, was my flute teacher for a number of years; here is a personal tribute.
Little could I have known when I received a scholarship that would make it possible for me to attend the preparatory division of the Juilliard School that — besides all the unique training in music theory, sight-singing, the history of music, and other invaluable facets of a very focused musical education — my flute teacher would be the incomparable Katherine Hoover. She has become extremely well known for the flute music and other compositions she has written. That her career would take such a path was not in evidence in those days long ago. I merely realized, rather quickly, that I was exceedingly lucky to have been given the chance to study with a first-class flautist (this recording on Amazon.com is, alas, nearly impossible to find) and instructor.
Flute music sweet to the ear and mind
I was well aware at the time — relatively young though I was — of what an exceptional musician and instrumentalist had been assigned to be my teacher. I had been delving into my preferred subjects (the other being the violin) for most of my life and had developed some ideas of how I liked things to sound. Far from all the recording and performing artists I heard were satisfying to me, and that includes some of the big names from that era and before. It seemed that often something — something crucial — was absent, whether a sense of line and the grand picture of a composition, small but all-important details not given their due, “special effects” with no musical justification for being incorporated, or a lack of contrasting colors in the sound. Learning flute music under Katherine Hoover’s tutelage treated me to some of the most exquisite flute playing anyone could ever hope to hear. Of course I secretly hoped for more demonstrations from her than I got; every measure was precious to me, as much more than a model of what I might aspire to.
The writing of flute music as manifestation of a great player
Reflecting back on those years, I remember clues that might have indicated what direction Katherine Hoover’s career might take. I recall bringing in some sorry short pieces that had been tortuously wrung from me in one of my composition classes and receiving the benefit of her calm and insightful overview as to how I might improve them. No flute music that I ever studied with her had its form left unanalyzed. No interpretation of any composition was possible without a look at what had gone into its creation. If one of the school accompanists was not present at my lesson, she would often sit down at the piano herself and play the accompaniment — sometimes at sight, always in complete control. At the time I felt thrilled and privileged partaking of all these riches. Now, I see that I should have had an inkling that she would need to broaden her avenues of expression and indeed, do wonderfully well.