Richard Miller (singer)

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Richard Miller (April 9, 1926[citation needed] – May 5, 2009) was a professor of singing at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the author of numerous books on singing technique and vocal pedagogy. He also sang recitals, oratorios, and numerous roles as a lyric tenor with major opera companies in Europe and America.

Early life and career[edit]

Richard Miller was born April 9, 1926, in Canton, Ohio. He began singing publicly at age three. Before his voice changed, at age 11, he sang hundreds of times in the Canton, Ohio, area. Advised not to sing during the voice-change period, he studied piano, cello, and organ, but returned to singing in musicals at Lincoln High School in Canton. He was drafted upon graduation from high school in 1944, assigned to the 7th Armored Division tank corps and sent to the European theater in January 1945, attached to the British First Army. Stationed near Marseilles after the war, he took voice lessons at the Marseilles Conservatory. A graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton NJ. After receiving his M.Mus. degree in Musicology from the University of Michigan, he was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study voice in Rome, Italy, at L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia. He later sang for four years as leading lyric tenor at the opera house in Zürich, Switzerland.

He returned to the U.S. in 1957, and taught singing at the University of Michigan for five years, then at Oberlin Conservatory for over 40 years. During those years, until age 60, he sang hundreds of performances of oratorio and opera, including appearances with the San Francisco and San Antonio Operas. He sang often with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, Pierre Boulez, and Louis Lane, including the summer promenade concerts and all five of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Lake Erie Opera seasons at Severance Hall.

Vocal pedagogy pioneer[edit]

He became internationally known for his abilities as a teacher of singing; for many years he gave teaching sessions all over North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. He authored eight books and hundreds of articles on the subject of singing.

He founded Oberlin Conservatory's Otto B. Schoepfle Vocal Arts Center, an acoustic laboratory that measures vocal production and provides visual and auditory feedback to the singer. The vocal arts center at Oberlin was the first of its kind to be based within a music school. His notable students included bass-baritone Donald Bell and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Fischer Monastero.

Overview of work as teacher and voice scientist[edit]

He was Wheeler Professor of Performance at Oberlin Conservatory, 42 years. He was founder/director of the Vocal Arts Center (OBSVAC) at Oberlin Conservatory. He was a member of the Collegium Medicorum Theatri and American Academy of Teachers of Singing and was on the Otolaryngology Adjunct Staff of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Miller taught for 28 years at the Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. He presented lectures and classes at the Paris Conservatoire Superieure, at the Marseilles National Opera School, and at Centre Polyphonique.

In November 2005, he retired from the Oberlin Conservatory, where he had taught for more than forty years. After retirement, he continued to teach some masterclasses. Internationally renowned for these masterclasses, he taught in Austria, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, and 38 US states.[citation needed]


In 1989 he received an honorary doctorate from Gustavus Adolphus College.

In May 1990, he was decorated Chevalier/Officier into the French Order of Arts and Letters at the hand of Madame Régine Crespin "in recognition of contributions to the art of vocalism in France and throughout the world". In 2006 Miller received the Voice Education Research Awareness Award from The Voice Foundation for his contributions to the field of voice communication.


He has written articles for over 120 professional journals. He also edited several musical anthologies and collections.

His books include:

  • National Schools of Singing (Scarecrow, 1977, reissued 1997)
  • The Structure of Singing (Schirmer Books/Macmillan, 1986)
  • Training Tenor Voices (Schirmer Books/Macmillan, 1993)
  • On the Art of Singing (Oxford University Press, 1996)
  • Singing Schumann: An Interpretive Guide for Performers (Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • Training Soprano Voices (Oxford University Press, 2000)
  • Solutions for Singers: Tools for Performers and Teachers (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  • Securing Baritone, Bass-Baritone, and Bass Voices (Oxford University Press, 2008)

External links[edit]