Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Madame K

Gwendolyn Koldofsky, one of the most important pioneers in the field of collaborative piano and creator of the first piano accomanying degree program, was born on this day in 1906 and would be 101 if she were alive today. From the article about her in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada:

Gwendolyn Koldofsky (b Williams). Accompanist, voice coach, b Bowmanville, Ont, 1 Nov 1906. She studied piano in Toronto with Viggo Kihl, in London with Tobias Matthay and (accompanying) Harold Craxton, and in Paris with Marguerite Hasselmans. She married the violinist Adolph Koldofsky in 1943 and lived in Toronto until 1944. After spending a year in Vancouver she settled in 1945 in Los Angeles, where she was engaged to teach accompanying - a position created for her - at the School of Music of the University of Southern California, which she held until her retirement in 1990.
I wonder if there are any musicians around that still remember her from the years she freelanced (if that's what it was called back then) in Toronto and Vancouver. I only studied with Madame K for one summer at the Academy of the West in 1989, but was very grateful to have been given the chance to work with her even for only six weeks.

Here's another great bio of Koldofsky from a notice for a benefit recital to be held tonight at USC featuring Alan Smith, Kevin Fitz-Gerald and others. About the annual recital:

After the early death of her husband, Gwendolyn Koldofsky established this annual benefit recital in his memory at USC, the proceeds of which would go to support the accompanying program she had founded. The Koldofsky Benefit Recital has featured some of the world's musical luminaries, many of them graduates and/or faculty members of the USC Thornton School of Music. After her death in 1998, the event was renamed "The Gwendolyn and Adolph Koldofsky Memorial Benefit Recital" to honor both musicians.

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