Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lois Marshall - Greatness Obscured

In my younger years, I found myself attached to a group of sophisticates and patrons of the arts, which included some activists, such as the man who hired me to teach various subjects in music at college level.
One of these interesting and arresting people was a gentle, quiet man, who did not participate very much in the invigorating and lively conversations ( a sort of "Algonquin Table") , which took place regularly. He preferred to listen much of the time.
The man was Fred Marshall, from Toronto, who befriended me and who most generously lent me his old Steinway while I looked for a piano of my own.
It turned out that his sister was Lois Marshall, one of the great recitalists of the time, blessed with a magnificent voice, and who had sung with the likes of Toscanini and other legendary musicians.
Her role in opera was limited, as she was struck, as a child, with polio, and left with a limp, which of course hampered and limited her place as an opera singer, though she did appear in opera from time to time.
Her primary role was to sing in recital, and the resplendent nature of her presence as a great artist was recognized throughout the world of music. Many of the leading singers of that period considered her as one to look up to.
I remember meeting her just once at one of our meetings, while she appeared in the Boston area under the aegis of the renown Sarah Caldwell.
Sadly, her name is not heard of these days. Her recordings are available, and I would suggest to those of you who have not heard her or know of her, to listen to a truly great musician who is pretty well forgotten in our time.



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