This biography is from the National Flute Association
One of the twentieth century's finest flutists died on Sunday 5 October 1997 at the age of eighty. Albert Tipton's contribution to music is legendary among flutists, musicians, and music lovers around the world, and he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Flute Association at the Orlando convention in 1995. He was known equally for his accomplished musicianship, sensitivity and skills as a teacher. Countless students who entered the professional ranks, including thirty-five Fullbright scholars, kept in touch with their former teacher as a friend and musical mentor throughout his long and productive life. He began his musical studies as a violinist, but Tipton's early experiences as a flutist were marked by his family's disapproval of his musical aspirations. Albert's father, a stockbroker, sought to discourage his teenage son's interest in the unsuitable career of music by disassembling his flute. Fortunately for the musical world, the flute was not a passing fancy for Tipton, and the determined young man learned how to reassemble his instrument from the experience. He began to seriously study the flute at the age of fourteen when he was accepted as a student of Willam Kincaid at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. The concepts he learned about vibrato as a violinist influenced his use of it on the flute, and his ideas are said to have strongly affected the change that Kincaid made in his own conception of flute vibrato during that time. In addition to his flute studies, Tipton also held a degree in piano performance, and a graduate degree in music theory.
Tipton's professional career began while he was still a student at Curtis, when he was chosen to be principal flutist of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and became the youngest principal flutist in the United States. It was also at Curtis where he met his wife and lifelong pianist Mary Norris. In 1939 he toured throughout South America, the United States and Mexico when he was chosen as solo flute of Leopold Stokowski's All American Youth Orchestra. In 1941, he joined the Philadelphia Orchestra and performed under the major conductors of the day, including Stokowski, Sir Thomas Beecham, Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Fritz Reiner, and Eugene Ormandy. In 1947, Stokowski wrote:
"He is a man of great musical experience and the highest musical ideals. In my opinion, his is the most admirable type of American manhood, a combination of strength and free approach in human relations."
Tipton received outstanding reviews throughout his career, and in the 1940s, Time magazine hailed him as one of the five greatest flutists in the world. Tipton joined the Saint Louis Symphony as principal flutist in 1946 and served under Golschmann for ten years. In 1951 he was invited to become the flutist for the Aspen Music Festival and school, where he performed and taught for thirty-seven years. From 1956-1968, he performed as principal flute of the Detroit Symphony under Paul Paray. During that period, he also established and conducted student orchestras in both the Aspen and Meadowbrook (Detroit) festivals. In addition to his work as an orchestral flutist, he also toured with his own chamber ensembles -- The Tipton Chamber Orchestra and the Tipton Trio with pianist and wife Mary Norris, and cellist Mario di Fiore, and he founded and directed major chamber music series in both St. Louis and Detroit.
In 1968, he accepted the position of Professor of Flute at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, where he remained until 1975. After his tenure at FSU, he joined the faculty of the Shepard School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he served as Professor of Flute and Chairman of Applied Music. He retired as Professor Emeritus at Rice University in 1990 and returned to Tallahassee, where he lived for the past six years.
He was survived by his wife Mary Norris; two children, Judy Katzman and Richard Tipton; and one grandson, Theo Katzman.