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Eunice Norton (Piano)

Born: June 30, 1908 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Died: December 9, 2005 - Vienna, Austria (?)

The American pianist, Eunice Norton, studied from 1922 to 1924 at the University of Minnesota with William Lindsay, who later introduced her to Dame Myra Hess. Hess was so impressed with the 15-year-old Norton's playing that she arranged for Norton to study in England in 1923 with Hess' own mentor, the famed pedagogue Tobias Matthay, with whom Norton would remain in association for 8 years (1924-1931).

In 1927, Eunice Norton won the London Bach Prize. She made her first appearance within that same year with the Queen’s Hall Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir Henry J. Wood, who subsequently took Norton on tour as soloist throughout the provinces. She played many recitals at that time in Wigmore Hall and Queen's Hall, and was soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sirs Hamilton Harty and Adrian Boult.

After winning the Chappell Gold Medal and the London Bach Prize in 1927, Eunice Norton performed thoroughout Erurope and USA. In Europe she appeared in Vienna, The Hague, Paris, and Leipzig with the famous Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. In Berlin alone, she gave more than twenty concerts to dazzling critical reviews, including a J.S. Bach concert about which musicologist and critic Alfred Einstein wrote, "Her Bach is played as Bach would have wished to hear it." In Amsterdam, Paderewski said after hearing her Frédéric Chopin, "You will play in all the great halls of the world." As if fulfilling this prediction, she soon played in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Budapest. In the USA, she made her formal debut at Carnegie Hall and later premiered many new works at frequent concert appearances at Town Hall. She was invited by Serge Koussevitzky to play with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was heard from coast to coast as recitalist and soloist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and many others, under Dobrowen, Henri Verbrugghen, Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Frederick Stock, Fritz Reiner, and Steinberg. One highlight from this period was her premiere performance and recording with RCA Victor of Paul Hindemith's Kammermusik No. 2, with Leopold Stokowski conducting. Another was with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under music director Fritz Reiner, when she gave the Pittsburgh premiere of Johannes Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1.

An important milestone occurred in Eunice Norton's development when she heard Artur Schnabel's performances of L.v. Beethoven's piano sonatas in 1932. She spent three successive seasons (1931-1933) under his tutelage in Berlin and Italy, and later enjoyed many rewarding years of friendship and association with him. Yet, possibly the most important factor in Norton's evolution as an artist occurred during the years which she spent away from the concert stage developing her playing through more secluded work.

In 1934, Eunice Norton married chemist Bernard Lewis and settled in Pittsburgh in 1942 to raise a family when he was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Mines. She continued to perform, soloing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under music director William Steinberg in 1954 and giving numerous local recitals. A penchant for robustness, like the complete L.v. Beethoven piano cycles, marked her programming. With her husband she founded Pittsburgh’s chapter of the New Friends of Music, which presented concerts at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. This society still exists today as the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, the city’s premiere chamber music series. She was an honorary member of the Tuesday Music Club. She later founded the Peacham Music Festival in Vermont, where many remarkable live recordings of her maturing performances were produced.

Eunice Norton was an avid supporter of new music, as well, premiering and performing works by Paul Hindemith, Arthur Honegger, Charles Ives and others. She performed with the American Chamber Orchestra, the Juilliard, Budapest, Griller, and Curtis String Quartets, at the White House for the Roosevelts, a Schnabel memorial concert at Lincoln Center, an all L.v. Beethoven recital at Rockefeller University, and the first radio broadcast of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) in the USA. She celebrated the L.v. Beethoven year with performances of the 32 Piano Sonatas, and bi-centennial with performances of the 48 Preludes & Fugues and numerous other keyboasrd works.

Eunice Norton was well-known for her master-classes at her studios in Pennsylvania, Vermont, and at numerous universities throughout the USA, and has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Catholic University, the University of Minnesota, and was Visiting Professor of Piano at Carnegie-Mellon University. Her series of four lectures on the teaching of Artur Schnabel was documented at the University of Pittsburgh in 1987, and her lecture on Matthay’s teaching was filmed in November of 1995 at Carnegie-Mellon University. In 1993, her husband died and in 2002, Eunice Norton left Pittsburgh for good, eventually relocating to Vienna. She was survived by her son, Norton Lewis, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Recordings: J.S. Bach's 48 Preludes & Fugues (well-tempered clavier); 32 Piano Sonatas of L.v. Beethoven. Contibutor to: Carnegie Magazine and Clavier. Honours: Chappell Gold Medal, Bach Prize in London; Honorary Doctor of Music from the College of Music in Wooster, USA. Membership: National Honorary member of Sigma Alpha lota; Charter member of American Matthey Association.

More Photos

Source: Wikipedia Website; Post Gazette Obituary; International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (13th Edition, 1992/93)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2006, January 2009); Teddy Kaufman (Photos, June 2007)

Eunice Norton: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works | Videos

Links to other Sites

Eunice Norton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Obituary: Eunice Norton / Pianist and promoter of classical music (Post Gazette)

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