His death is announced here; and here are many tributes, with perfect and imperfect English. A few that caught UD‘s eye follow.


‘I can’t forget that when I was admitted to Manhattan School of Music, you cared for me and taught me like a father. You always leave the school very late, and I always can see you downstairs in the school in the midnight . I can’t describe my pleasantly surprise when you appeared in the concert hall and listened to my performance in the final recital of the Bach class and the harpsichord class. After that, you summed up all the problems in my performance for me, and I deeply feel your great support for your students. You have paid so much attention for us, you always devote all your energy to music and teaching. In the future, I will also teach many students. As your student, I‘m determined to learn and pass on your dedication and rigorous teaching attitude, as well as the spirit of selfless care for students.’


‘Today is your funeral day. Even till now, it’s still too hard for me to believe that this thing had happened. The date 9th of September in America which is 10th of September in China is my country’s Teacher’s Day. I wanted to say Happy Teacher’s Day to you but didn’t have chance. But I know someday I will meet you again, at the end of my life.’


‘But what made Mr. PK great wasn’t just his amazing insight in the classroom; it was also his above-and-beyond support for everyone he cared about. There were so many moments we shared outside of the classroom. I’ll always remember our trip to Italy where he said that he came up with the idea for me to play Prokofiev’s 1st Piano Concerto in a dream… He would always go to my performances whenever he could, no matter … where they were or how important they were. I specifically remember he went to one of my gigs, and he asked to be dropped off at his studio in MSM at 1:30 AM instead of at his apartment because he had to practice a Beethoven Piano Concerto for an upcoming concert in Moscow!’


‘One of the most enduring memories from my lessons with Prof. Kawin was his insistence that I use the weight of gravity to “sink” into the last two chords of Brahms’ g minor Rhapsody. I never quite managed to create the wonderfully rounded sound that he could.’


‘I can’t imagine you are gone. Just a few days ago I was still imagining what the first class of our new semester should look like. I have a lot to say to you, but I never have a chance again. I still remember what you said to me, your voice is always full of passion for music and you always encourage me. May you rest in peace.

Your stupid student


‘I am still not ready for saying good-bye.
You will be in my heart forever as my most wonderful teacher, my mentor, my friend, and beautiful musician like as your warm heart.
I learned from you not only music but also life which has to be beautiful and wise.
Thank you for being my teacher and I will miss you and love you. Don’t forget you were always be loved.’


‘He attended my bar mitzvah in 1998, and years later, my 12-year-old photo was amongst the collection on his studio wall. There were never one-hour lessons; there were only 2, 2.5-hour lessons, however long was necessary. Time stopped in his Room 228 studio, and the music ruled.’


‘I felt guilty of not spending enough time to talk with you casually when you were always there for me. All I knew was to focus my attention more into work, technical skills, while not willing to open myself up to you for a casual talk. I owe you and myself a deepest apology for not knowing you truly as a person rather than a tutor when you were still alive.’


‘He once asked: “do you see that picture of Rachmaninoff’s hand and my own, aren’t they alike!” His way of teaching Russian music was unlike anyone else. He taught me the importance of fingering ( Beethoven 111, Ravel’s Scarbo)- During one of his classes a Gym Promoting number called him, he picked up and hanged up ( He said to me I’m doing the fingering for Beethoven Op.111 that’s enough exercise for the whole day).’


‘I know you needed the cup of iced coffee always because you were always lacking of sleep from long lessons after midnight or thoughts about your students. Even if you blamed me that our lessons get too long because we talk too much, I know you truly believed that without life, there is no music. Your life was art itself, and music was your life.’


‘Mr. Kawin was a concert pianist, recording pianist, educator, accomplished turtle collector. A very sloppy person who couldn’t find a charger at his home but knew every inch of [the Manhattan School of Music]. A strange man who spelled gute Nacht with umlaut but read every Asian student’s name accurately.’


‘Art was his religion and he truly dedicated himself to it!
I can not write about him, because every-time I start writing or see his pictures my eyes fill up with tears. He will always be remembered with his child-like, naive smile!’


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2 Responses to “The imperfect English of some of Phillip Kawin’s grieving piano students lends greater poignancy to the untimely death of their Manhattan School of Music teacher.”

  1. Vera Pawlak Says:

    Dear Phil: I cannot believe you have left this Earth! How privileged I was to be one of your early students: You re- taught me to play the piano – correctly! I cherish the long lessons we had as well as performing as one of your students at Arco Santi.
    You showed me HOW to play the piano; and for that I will ever be grateful to you. You did so much that other teachers don’t bother to do: You taught technique.
    I was so fortunate to know you, Phil, and my heart is breaking that you are gone.
    God bless you, my dear teacher, Phil Kawin.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Vera: Thank you for that beautiful comment. UD

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