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Pianist and admired teacher, Peter Yazbeck (1930 - 2012)

Pianist and admired teacher, Peter Yazbeck (1930 – 2012)

Peter Yazbeck was born in Canada of Lebanese parents on June 30, 1930.  Mr. Yazbeck was the youngest of eleven children and the only child to enter the world of the arts. He began his piano studies at the relatively late age of eleven in his hometown of Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada. He advanced quickly, winning many awards at area festivals, and performed his first solo recital at the age of sixteen.

Mr. Yazbeck received a scholarship to attend the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Canada where he earned his Associate Degree at the age of eighteen.  His mentors there included Russian-Swiss pianist Boris Roubakine and the renowned Ukrainian pianist Lubka Kolessa.  He continued his studies at the Senior School, (now the Glenn Gould School), where he received his Artist Diploma in Performance.

Mr. Yazbeck continued his postgraduate work as a scholarship student at the Mannes College of Music in New York City where he worked with Czech pianist Hans Neuman.  While attending Mannes College, he made his debut at Town Hall in New York City, and his Canadian debut at Eaton Auditorium in Toronto.

Peter Yazbeck performed widely in recitals, with orchestra, and for radio in Canada and in the United States.  His most popular recordings include the Grieg’s Piano Sonata and Holberg Suite. In the United States, he performed in various states and cities, particularly Cleveland, OH;  New Jersey, Boston, MA; and in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA. Mr. Yazbeck went to California and studied with Muriel Kerr of the University of Southern California after an auto accident in 1959. He appeared twice with the Ventura Symphony and was Guest Artist at the Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) State Convention.

Mr. Yazbeck served as a committed and dedicated member of the Music Teacher’s Association of California(MTAC).  For nine years he participated on the State Board of the MTAC, in addition to working as the Program Chair for 4 state conventions, and finally as MTAC President.  While on the State Board, he was Program Chair and brought outstanding Artists and Lectures to four conventions.  His interest in pedagogy was intensified by his involvement in MTAC  and increased his desire to upgrade teaching standards throughout the state.  Mr. Yazbeck was actively teaching, adjudicating, and giving master classes right up to the day he passed away on April 18, 2011 (click here for obituary). He was recognized at the 2011 MTAC State convention with the prestigious MTAC’s Outstanding Service Award.  Mr. Yazbeck was only the fourteenth recipient of this award in the organization’s 114-year history.

As a leading adjudicator for the National Piano Guild of Austin, Texas, and the Certificate of Merit program for the MTAC, he also judged young artist and scholarship competitions in California and Nevada. These events included the Joanna Hodges International Competitions, the Los Angeles Liszt Competitions, the MTNA Concerto and Bartok Competitions, the Northern Nevada Music Teachers Association Festivals, and many more competitions throughout Southern California.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Yazbeck suffered a heart attack and soon gave up public piano performance.  He also retired from both the State Board and the presidency of MTAC. He devoted most of his life to teaching music, both privately and as a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara for twenty years. He was a much-loved teacher and mentor; respected for his knowledge, musicality, and dedication to excellence in music education.  Mr. Yazbeck’s piano students have received hundreds of awards, and have held prestigious positions in the worlds of academia, pop, and jazz. He was an excellent coach who also provided financial assistance and scholarships to many gifted students with financial needs. He will always be remembered for his generosity of spirit and standards of excellence by all those that were privileged to work or study with him.