Born: January 5, 1906 - Vienna, Austria
Died: December 9, 1991 - Northampton, Massachusetts, USA
The Austrian-born American harpsichordist, pianist and organist, Yella Pesssl (real name: Gabriella Pessl Sobotka), studied at the State Academy of Music in Vienna. Before immigrating to the UUSA in 1931, she had a busy career performing in Europe.
Known for her interpretations of J.S. Bach, Yella Pesssl was an active performer for more than half a century. As founder and director of the Bach Circle, a New York group specializing in lesser-known works of J.S. Bach and other Baroque composers, she helped introduce 18th-century music to a wide audience.
In America, Yella Pessl toured extensively, playing solo recitals and with orchestras under conductors like Arturo Toscanini and Bruno Walter. In 1938 she accompanied the Trapp Family Singers, whom she had known in Vienna, at their Town Hall debut. She had her own radio program on WQXR, made recordings for the RCA Victor label and was on the faculty of Columbia University.
Yella Pesssl died of a heart attack at her home in Northampton, Massachusetts, 85 years old Her husband, Dr. Harry Sobotka, a biochemist at Mount Sinai Hospital, died in 1970.