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Eileen Joyce

Eileen Joyce by Annemarie Heinrich, c. 1952.jpg
Eileen Joyce in 1952
Born
Eileen Alannah Joyce

(1908-01-01)1 January 1908
Zeehan, Tasmania, Australia
Died 25 March 1991(1991-03-25) (aged 83)
Musical career
Instruments Piano, harpsichord

Eileen Alannah Joyce CMG (1 January 1908 – 25 March 1991) was an Australian pianist whose career spanned more than 30 years. She lived in England in her adult years.

Her recordings made her popular in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly during World War II; at her zenith she was compared in popular esteem with Gracie Fields and Vera Lynn. When she played in Berlin in 1947 with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, an eminent German critic classed her with Clara Schumann, Sophie Menter and Teresa Carreño. When she performed in the United States in 1950, Irving Kolodin called her "the world's greatest unknown pianist". She became even better known during the 1950s, when she played 50 recitals a year in London alone, which were always sold out. She also performed a series of "Marathon Concerts", playing as many as four concertos in a single evening. Her Mozart was described as "of impeccable taste and feeling", she was a Bach player "of commanding authority", and "a Lisztian of both poetry and bravura". Her playing of the second movement of Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto in the films Brief Encounter and The Seventh Veil (both 1945) helped popularise the work. A 1950 biography of Eileen Joyce's early life became a best-seller and was translated into various languages; a feature film Wherever She Goes (1951) was based on the book, but was much less successful.

Despite her fame, her name slipped from public sight after her retirement in the early 1960s. Her recordings have resurfaced on CD.

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