Dean & Carolyn (Norris) Elder

In the previous article about the Elder family in the Hamilton House we pointed out how son Dean, as well as his wife, went on to become very accomplished and well-known in the music world as pianists.

There is no doubt whatsoever that young Dean Elder, at the age of 15 years, honed much of his musical talent right here in Hamilton House. If walls can talk, and you listen hard enough, the sounds of Brahms “Intermezzi” might be heard still resonating through the paint and plaster, as practiced by Dean.

Dean and Carolyn Elder later became teachers of music, sharing their gifts with promising young students. They also were called upon as esteemed musicians to judge musical contests around the world, where the brightest and best students performed.

Turning the Hamilton House into a music conservatory, as Debbie and Cindy previously suggested, would be very fitting indeed!

We’ve provided a few more news articles about Dean and Carolyn Elder.

From the obituary of Dean Elder…

Dean Elder, pianist, teacher, writer, critic and adjudicator, passed away in December 2018 at age 98.

Elder had his early piano training with Franziska Heinrich, in Portland, Oregon. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Idaho and Columbia University. He studied on Fulbright grants in Europe at the Zurich, Paris and Saarbrucken Conservatories.

Elder authored Pianists at Play, a book of interviews with great pianists, master lessons and technical regimes; his articles for Clavier magazine, included more than 100 interviews with many of the world’s great pianists. He was named an MTNA FOUNDATION Fellow in 2012.

Elder served on the juries of the Arthur Rubinstein, William Kapell, Gina Bachauer, Jose Iturbi, Senigallia Italy, Utrecht Liszt, Leeds, Sydney, Hamamatsu, and Paris International Piano Competitions. In 1997, as a member of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition screening jury, he auditioned 146 pianists in 40-minute recitals before live audiences in Utrecht, Milan, Moscow, New York, Chicago and Fort Worth to choose 35 contestants for the Cliburn Competition.

In 1999, he moved from Long Island to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was a member of the Phoenix MTA and continued to teach and adjudicate.

We have contact with Karyl, daughter of Dean and Carolyn Elder. She is very familiar with the Hamilton House as her father used to talk about it a lot. She is currently going through her family photos to see what she can find to share with us. In the meantime, she has provided us with the blurb from the dust jacket of one of her father Dean Elder’s books, as well as two photographs.

Below is Karyl’s email to us…

“I took this blurb partly from the book jacket “Pianists at Play” by Dean M. Elder. Added some of my ideas as well.

Dean Elder, distinguished pianist, teacher and writer, became interested in piano playing and great pianists at an early age in Portland, OR and Coeur d’Alene, ID.

While in his teens, he won the Northwest Piano Concerto Competition in Spokane, WA and later he and my mother studied on Fulbright Fellowships with Walter Frey, Jean Batalla and Walter Gieseking in Europe. He was a graduate of the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he met my mother, Carolyn Norris, and received his Masters from Columbia Teachers College in New York.

Dean was one of America’s most widely read music journalists as a consulting editor and record reviewer for Clavier Magazine. He and my mother taught piano for many years in New York City and later in Dix Hills, New York. My dad continued teaching piano after moving and “retiring” to Scottsdale, AZ. (Attached a photo of him teaching one of the top piano teachers in the Phoenix, AZ area, Rosemary Stelmach.)

He frequently attended international piano competitions such as the Gina Bachauer, University of Maryland, Van Cliburn, Artur Rubenstein and Leeds (England.)

When my grandparents were alive, my parents and I split our summers visiting my mother’s parents (John and Louise Norris) in Payette, ID and my father’s parents (Paul and Sadie Elder) in Coeur d’Alene, who had a really cute house on Sunset Lane as well as a cabin on Hayden Lake. The Sunset Lane house was razed years ago to become a Home Depot, which I understand has since closed. I would hate to see the Government Way home be destroyed too.

Thank you for your interest in this!

Karyl Elder”

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