William Kincaid (flutist)

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William Kincaid
William Kincaid - Medium.jpg
William Kincaid in 1920
William Morris Kincaid

(1895-04-26)26 April 1895
Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
Died27 March 1967(1967-03-27) (aged 71)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Known forFlute, Teaching
MovementAmerican Flute School
Spouse(s)Helen Gooding Kincaid (b. 1894, d. 1965)

William Morris "Monty" Kincaid (26 April 1895 – 27 March 1967) was an American flutist and teacher. He is known for his work as principal flute of the Philadelphia Orchestra for almost 40 years, teaching at the Curtis Institute and being a guiding force in the creation of an American School of flute playing.

Early life[edit]

Kincaid was born in Minneapolis on April 26, 1895[1] but moved at the age of 4 to Honolulu, Hawaii.[2] Here he often enjoyed diving for pennies in the harbor. He was an avid swimmer throughout his life, taught early on by Duke Kahamamoku, where learned the breath control that later served him well as a professional flutist.[3][4] He began playing the flute at age 8, while simultaneously studying piano.[5]

In 1911, Kincaid went to New York, enrolling simultaneously in Columbia University and the Institute of Musical Art (later the Juilliard School), where he studied flute with Georges Barrère.[6] He received diplomas in 1914 and an artist diploma in 1918,[5] and performed in the flute section of the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch from 1914 to 1919. During this time in New York, Kincaid served as president of the newly created New York Flute Club.[5]

During World War I, Kincaid served briefly in the United States Navy, after which he returned to the New York Symphony. In 1920, he played solo flute with the New York Chamber Music Society.[7]

Philadelphia Orchestra[edit]

After Leopold Stokowski dismissed André Maquarre during a rehearsal in April 1921, Kincaid was offered the principal flute position in the Philadelphia Orchestra, which he went on to hold for 40 seasons.[8] During his tenure, he appeared as a soloist in 215 performances by the Orchestra.[9] He was well-regarded by other musicians in the Orchestra.[2]

He retired from the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1960 at the mandatory retirement age of 65.

Curtis Institute of Music[edit]

In either 1924 or 1928 (sources vary), Kincaid joined the faculty of the newly established Curtis Institute of Music, where his four decades of teaching would have a profound impact on orchestral flute playing in the United States.[6][5][7] At Curtis he collaborated with the pianist Vladimir Sokoloff.[10][11][12][13] Sokoloff's daughter Laurie (with Eleanore Sokoloff, also a teacher at Curtis) was a pupil of William Kincaid.[14][15] The flutist Julius Baker was also a student of Kincaid's, and went on to teach another generation of flutists at Curtis. It was at the Curtis Institute where Kincaid collaborated with oboist and fellow Institute professor Marcel Tabuteau to create a system of groupings called "Curtis Brackets."[5]

American School of Flute[edit]

Through his teaching at Curtis and elsewhere, Kincaid is sometimes referred to as the Grandfather of the American Flute School.[16] Through the work of Demetra Fair at the Ohio State University during her dissertation writing, an extensive research study of 4,360 American flutists and their "flute" lineage, it became clear that William Kincaid, George Laurent and Marcel Moyse form the basis of the American Flute School.[5]


At least 40 compositions were dedicated to him, and 87% of all professional flutists living in the United States in 2003 could trace their heritage (through one or more of their teachers) to Kincaid.[5][7] One such composition dedicated to Kincaid's memory by his students is Aaron Copland's Duo for Flute and Piano.

Notable students[edit]

Platinum flute[edit]

Kincaid's instrument featured a solid platinum body and silver French-style open-hole keys. Originally created for display at the 1939 New York World's Fair, the flute was purchased afterwards by Kincaid. The headjoint sported the Trylon and Perisphere logo, symbol of the 1939 fair, engraved by Verne Q. Powell. The flute was considered so valuable that it remained under armed guard throughout the fair.

Shortly before his death in 1967, Kincaid gifted the flute to his student, Elaine Shaffer. After her own death, the flute was auctioned by Christie's in 1986. The successful bidder was noted chemist, author and art collector Stuart Pivar, who paid $187,000 for the flute. Pivar was accompanied by artist Andy Warhol the day of the auction. For a time the flute was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and was considered the most expensive flute in the world,[6] but it was auctioned at Christie's again in 2009 and realized only $37,500.[17] The flute is currently on loan to flutist Brandon Patrick George.

Recordings (selection)[edit]

  • "Mozart: Concertos for Wind Instruments (Legendary Interpretations)", Philadelphia Orchetsra, Ormandy, Sony, ASIN: B0000027J1
  • "Music for the flute" William Kincaid with Vladimir Sokoloff (piano) Columbia ML43S9
  • "William Kincaid Plays the Flute" "William Kincaid (flute) accompanied by Vladimir Sokoloff". Award Artist Disc No. AAS-705
  • "Music for organ and orchestra", POULENC Francis (Francia); BARBER Samuel (USA); STRAUSS Richard (Austria), GARFIELD Bernard (fagotto); KINCAID William (flauto); ORMANDY Eugene (dir); The Philadelphia Orchestra, COLUMBIA-COLU MS 6398
  • "Chamber Concerto by George Barati", Performers: Sol Schoenbach (Bassoon), William Kincaid (Flute), Marcel Tabuteau (Oboe), Label: Cri,
  • "The Original Philadelphia Woodwind Quintet", Label: Boston Records, Composers: André Jolivet, Jean Françaix, Francis Poulenc, Jacques Ibert


  1. ^ Kincaid, William (26 Apr. 1895, Minneapolis - 27 Mar. 1967, Philadelphia). (2003). In D. M. Randel (Ed.), The harvard biographical dictionary of music. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  2. ^ a b "WILLIAM KINCAID, FLUTIST, 71, DEAD: With Philadelphia Orchestra --Taught at Curtis Institute". New York Times. 28 March 1967. ProQuest 118064090.
  3. ^ "Deaths: William Kincaid". The Gaffney Ledger. Gaffney, South Carolina. 29 March 1967. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Kincaid Centennial Challenge". www.nyfluteclub.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Fair, Demetra Baferos (2003). Flutists' Family Tree: In Search of the American Flute School (DMA thesis). Ohio State University. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "William Kincaid: Grandfather of the American Flute School". Flute Monkey. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b c "Principal Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra". The Stokowski Legacy. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  8. ^ "William Kincaid". Robert Bigio Flute Pages. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  9. ^ Graham, David Manuel (2013). Jeanne Baxtresser's American Flute Heritage: a History of Tradition and Excellence. Florida State University (DMA Dissertation).
  10. ^ "Piano - Vladimir Sokoloff - Boston Records".
  11. ^ LP "William Kincaid Plays the Flute". "William Kincaid (flute) accompanied by Vladimir Sokoloff". Award Artist Disc No. AAS-705
  12. ^ LP: "Music for the flute"William Kincaid with Vladimir Sokoloff (piano) Columbia ML43S9
  13. ^ Information Bulletin, Library of congress, 1957; announcement of a concert of 21. January, 1955, with William Lifshev (Viola), John de Lancie (Oboe) and william Kincaid (Flute) accompanied by Vladimir Sokoloff.
  14. ^ Philadelphia Orchestra programme book of 1964, p.137
  15. ^ "Laurie Sokoloff". www.peabody.jhu.edu. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017.
  16. ^ http://www.flutemonkey.com/William_Kincaid.html

External links[edit]