Brooks Smith

Voice/Instrument: Pianoforte


Brooks Smith, a pianist and teacher who for many years toured and made recordings with the violinist Jascha Heifetz, died on Oct. 31 in Covina, Calif. He was 88 and lived in Hacienda Heights, Calif., near Los Angeles.

Mr. Smith was born in McAllen, Tex., in 1912 and began his piano studies when he was 4. In the early 1930's he won a full scholarship to the Juilliard School, where he studied with Josef and Rosina Lhevinne. During his student years, he became interested in the art song repertory and began working as an accompanist for singers. By the time he completed his studies, in 1939, he had decided to pursue a career as an accompanist instead of as a soloist.

Among his early partners were Rise Stevens and Mack Harrell. When Harrell became the director of the new Aspen Music School and Festival, in the 1940's, he invited Mr. Smith to join the faculty. He taught at Aspen for many years, and performed there as an accompanist and chamber music collaborator with the singers Adele Addison, Jan de Gaetani and Benita Valente; the cellists Lynn Harrell and Zara Nelsova; and the Juilliard String Quartet. 

Mr. Smith began working with Heifetz in 1954, and was the great violinist's accompanist and recital partner until Heifetz stopped performing in October 1972. They made numerous recordings together, including sonatas by Beethoven, Franck, Faure and Saint-Saens.

In 1966 Mr. Smith joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, where he taught piano accompaniment and chamber music until 1972. From 1972 until his retirement, in 1988, he was on the faculty of the University of Southern California.

He is survived by his sister, Margaret Proctor of Pharr, Tex.

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