Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Feuchtinger Method of Voice Production, Part 1

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Feuchtinger Method of Voice Production, Part 1

Article excerpt

prov-e-nance (prov'ø-nans) n. Place of origin, source. [Lat. Provenire, to originate.]

THE LATE NINETEENTH AND EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURIES Saw many "revolutionary methods" (tongue firmly implanted in cheek) of teaching voice. Some were vigorous, dependable methodologies based on sound principles and best practices. Others, not so much. The improvements and innovations with the printing press in the later 1800s provided a platform for anyone to mass produce books. Voice pedagogues were no exception; there were literally hundreds of "methods" books printed during this time.

To a historian of voice pedagogy, almost all methodologies are of some interest. Sometimes unknown methods could hold a kernel of truth while not being widely accepted, and should be reviewed. Conversely, there are those that are truly ineffective and, perhaps, not worth the effort of reading.

One particularly such unique and interesting method of teaching voice was presented by Eugene Feuchtinger, Sr. (1862-1930) and Eugene (Gene) Feuchtinger, Jr. (1896-1988). Eugene pere was alive during a period ofhistory that saw the birth of voice science, with pedagogues experimenting and collecting data as never before, including Manuel Garcia II (1805-1906) and the presentation of his findings with the laryngoscope, and Francesco Lamperii (1813-1892) with his A Treatise in the Art of Singing (1877). Eugene Sr. considered himself to be a participant in this new movement and developed a method of singing based on his observations and beliefs.

The elder Eugene was born to (Franz) Joseph Feuchtinger (1857-1916) and Josephine Lamper Feuchtinger in Niirnburg, Germany, where he spent most of his childhood. Joseph held a life commission as chorister and organist from the King of Württemberg, where his responsibilities included teaching voice.1 Joseph was the second generation of voice teachers; Casper Feuchtinger, Joseph's father, was the court musician to the Duke of Waldeck and was also a voice teacher/performer.2 Casper studied with Giovanni Battista Mancini (1714-1800) and based his teaching methodology upon those studies. Joseph carried on the tradition set forth by Casper.3

As a young child, Eugene Sr. sang in boys choirs. His cousin, Ferdinand Langer Feuchtinger (1839-1905), was the Court Director of the Opera in Mannheim, and he took Eugene Sr. under his wing and introduced him to the academics of music. As he grew, Eugene Sr. assisted with the Opera in Mannheim as accompanist and coach.4

Eugene's formal training is unknown except that he received an Artium Magister (Master of Arts) degree. He did study with Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1839- 1910) in Dresden, William Shakespeare (1849-1931) in London, and later specialized his training with John Howard in New York City.5

Eugene Sr. was known as a scientist, publisher, and teacher, and he revered the scientific approach to teaching voice and advocated such. He taught voice privately and by correspondence (mail). He was on the faculty of Curry College in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and at the Conservatory of Music of Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio. He led master classes in Germany and the United States and also coached singers from opera companies in Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden. He published a few songs with the help of his brother, Julius Feuchtinger, who was a renowned music publisher during the late 1800s and 1900s. The most important body of works that Julius published were operas, most specifically those of Richard Wagner (1813-1983).

In the 1880s, it was quite fashionable for people in Germany to move to the United States,6 and it was during this time that Eugene Sr. brought his family to America. In 1916, he founded the Perfect Voice Institute in Chicago with the purpose of establishing a vehicle to practice his teaching. He had his private students in Chicago, but most of his work was carried out through correspondence courses.

During the late 1910s, Eugene Sr. discovered that he had cancer. …

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