Updated: Jan 12
English heritage: Myra Hess
I have lived in England for more than four years now and I have always considered of great importance to know more about the folklore of the country you are living in, and to enrich yourself with it.
There is a small number of well-known female pianists so I wanted to investigate more about it, to find some English female pianists and share what I have learned about them with others.
Myra Hess (1890 –1965) was born in Kilbun, London. Myra started piano lessons at a very young age and later studied at Guildhall School of Music, where she was awarded with the Gold Medal and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Her debut came in 1907, touring around Europe, crossing the Atlantic Ocean for her American debut years later in 1922.
During the Second World War, Myra played a very important role on maintaining the morale of populace of London. All concert halls had closed at night cancelling their night concerts to avoid being targets of German bombers. Hess organised around 2,000 lunch time concerts around London, performing even when London was being bombed. For her contribution King George VI awarded her with the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Her lunch time concerts also influenced the formation of the City Music Society.
Myra Hess was recognized for her Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann interpretations but her repertoire included works from Scarlatti to modern composers. Hess was also known for her chamber music performances, playing in a two pianos duo with another English pianist, Irene Scharrer. You can visit her blue plaque at her house in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Arts and Music have been known for being a powerful tool against difficult situations such as war. Performing music will help us deal with every difficult situation in our lives as Myra Hess bravely did during her life.
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