Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two Great Ladies of the Piano - One Still Remembered; the Other, Pretty Well Forgotten...

Two great pianists who actually performed during the ravages of the London Blitz were George Shearing and Myra Hess.
As a youngster, I remember reading about these two artists and their recording sessions and informal concerts wherever there were havens of relative safety available, during Hitler's obscene attacks on the civilians living in the principal cities and towns of England.
Which leads me to the many recitals that Myra Hess gave during this period, with Royalty attending at times. Hess did not hesitate in lending her great talents to her loving audiences at a time when Dame Myra was at the height of her powers, giving these oppressed people some respite and relief  through the magic of her Mozart and Beethoven ; to mention but two of a massive number of the great composers she could perform at any given time.
Hess is still remembered, especially in Great Britain, as one of her great musicians - her recordings are the testimony, as to her place in the history of  music.
Incidentally, she was a great Jazz enthusiast, and happened to be a teacher of the mother of none other than Dave Brubeck.
Another lady, who, sadly, is less well remembered, was Eileen Joyce. Although a native Australian, she spent her adult life in Britain , and  was  thought of as a British pianist.
Her pianistic powers were astonishing, and at a young age, was recognized rather quickly. The critic Kolodin  wrote of her as "the greatest unknown pianist in the world." Her repertoire was amazingly wide and eclectic; more importantly, her artistry  was top level. Unfortunately, rheumatism invaded her system, and her career was relatively brief, about thirty years. This event shortened not only her career but also historic remembrance, and her attainments have been pretty well obfuscated by time.
But, may I   mention   just a few   of  the great number of conductors who were her partners  when she chose  to play a Concerto?
Sergiu Celibidache; Eugene Ormandy; Sir Colin Davis, Sir Thomas Beecham; Herbert Von Karajan...
Pretty fair company -



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