In a charming reminiscence, leading music critic and teacher Bryce Morrison, who admits that his musical career “began with a recital by Eileen Joyce,” writes that “Eileen was an original – entirely her own person.”
This is surely an understatement. Which other musician of the 20th century can have laid claim to have been born, in 1908, in a tent in Tasmania, brought up in Boulder in the Western Australian goldfields, and received a convent education before being “discovered” by Percy Grainger and Wilhelm Backhaus and whisked off to Leipzig for the first-rate musical education that paved the way for a spectacular concert, broadcasting, recording and film career in the UK and elsewhere, spanning some three decades?
It’s easy to be seduced by the romance and surface glitter of Joyce’s life, including her glamorous stage persona and film appearances. But as the co-authors of Destiny: The Extraordinary Career of Pianist Eileen Joyceremind us, it is her musical artistry for which she will be remembered.
“You really are mesmerised by her playing,” musicologist Dr Victoria Rogers says of Joyce’s complete studio recordings, which...