We’re still waiting for the music, so it’s the perfect time to talk about Robert Dick. Flutist, improviser, inventor, visionary. His thought processes, mechanical inventions, and approach to flute playing have forever changed what flute players are capable of. He began his flute studies as a young boy and was shocked to discover that the flute didn’t play multiple notes like the piano or cello, which were played by other members of his family. This is the point he says, in this excellent biographical video from NYU Steinhart School, where he decided to turn left. He published his first (and now seminal) text, The Other Flute, during his first year of graduate school and has never looked back. He is currently a member of the faculty at NYU Steinhart School of Music, and received the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. A generous teacher, he has many instructional videos and concert recordings available on both YouTube and his website. (His live performance of his composition “Green House” gives you a taste of what he is capable of.) Robert’s multitude of recordings and compositions are self-published and available for purchase there as well. His “Glissando Headjoint”invention is manufactured by Brannen Brothers Flutemakers.
I was first introduced to Robert’s music while I was in college, and when I moved to the NY-area in 1997 I was incredibly excited to learn that he was giving a recital around that time at the NY Flute Club concert series at CAMI Hall. So excited, in fact, that I dragged my trombonist-husband and my amateur-flute playing father-in-law to his recital! My husband still talks about that recital, it was thrillingly incredible. Ever since then I’ve always made a point to see him live whenever I can, his playing is just inspirational.
It is a gift to be able to perform music by a living composer, and wonderful to be able to ask them questions about their intentions. But to be able to perform alongside the composer on their own work is priceless, I highly encourage my students to seize any opportunities like this that come their way!