Former piano faculty member Jeaneane Dowis Lipman (B.S. ’53, piano) died on December 4, 2013, in Denton, Tex., at the age of 82. She was predeceased by her husband, Samuel B. Lipman (’62, piano), and son, Edward Lipman.
Dowis, who was born on October 28, 1932, often performed with her husband, a concert pianist and critic who was the publisher of The New Criterion until his death, in 1994. A 1954 review of a concert she gave at the National Gallery of Art lauded her “refined musical approach and her dependable technique.” In 2002, she moved to Denton. She continued performing, giving a four-hands recital of works by Mozart, Poulenc, Schubert, and Brahms with Jean Mainous (Postgraduate Diploma ’48, piano), in 2011, and a solo recital there eight months before her death.
Piano faculty member Martin Canin remembered his friend and colleague.
Jeaneane Dowis came to Juilliard in 1948 as a dazzlingly talented, witty, and ever-so-charming 16-year-old pianist from the delightfully named town of Grapevine, Tex. As a child she studied with Adele Marcus (’29, piano; Juilliard faculty 1954-91). Although she was younger than the other students in her first-year class, Jeaneane soon made her indelible mark on Juilliard by winning the piano concerto competition not once, but twice, in consecutive years. (Chopin No. 2, Beethoven No. 3) This achievement (which was denounced by some at the time as “stacking the deck”) had a lasting impact on school policy, which soon stipulated that a student could win only once.
Jeaneane came to Juilliard with an eager desire to study with the great Russian-born pedagogue, Mme. Rosina Lhévinne (faculty 1925-76). With her obvious musical gifts and her highly engaging personality, she so impressed her legendary teacher that somewhat later, Mme. Lhévinne asked Jeaneane to be her assistant for her summer teaching at Aspen and after that, in 1957, to assist her in her class at Juilliard. It was an association that blossomed greatly over the years and during that time, Jeaneane acquired her own formidable reputation as a go-to teacher.
I got to know Jeaneane as a colleague when Van Cliburn (Diploma ’54, piano) won the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 and Mme. Lhévinne, his teacher, was besieged by prospective students. She felt the need for a second assistant, and although I had graduated from her class in 1955, I had just played a highly successful debut and was in touch with my former teacher who then proposed that I take the position, which I was happy to do. Jeaneane and I continued as friends and colleagues under the guidance and overall vision of Mme. Lhévinne for some years until Jeaneane felt that it was time to strike out on her own, which she did (in 1967) with great success, teaching a large private class for many years. She married the brilliant pianist and her fellow student Sam Lipman (winner of the Liszt Concerto No. 2 competition at Juilliard) and they lived an artistically and intellectually stimulating life until his untimely death at age 60. Sam was a well-known critic and writer as well as a highly gifted pianist, and I suspect that there were not many dull moments in their household.
Jeaneane’s later years were plagued by serious health problems and with the death of Sam and of her son, Edward, she made the decision to leave New York and to return to Texas, where she recently passed away. Jeaneane Dowis left a vivid impression on her many students as well as on her friends and colleagues. She was not only a highly gifted musician but a truly unforgettable personality and she will be missed.