The full title of this biography is The Musical Life: Hedwig Stein: Emigrée Pianist, which succinctly sums up the who and the what. The whys and wherefores are explored in always generous – sometimes over-generous – detail by Helen Marquand, who was Stein’s pupil for some years and good friend thereafter.

Hedwig Stein

In music – and in life – timing is everything. In the early 1930s, Hedwig was a rising star of the concert piano when she met Iso Elinson and fell in love. He was a Russian émigré from Moghilev, and a Jew. As National Socialism was also rising, Stein could not have made a worse choice at a worse time.

Her family was appalled, not least at the inevitable decision to leave rapid Nazification. Hedwig – as her own writing proves – was an intelligent and determined woman and the pair fled to Britain and relative safety. When WW2 broke out, they chose to live in the south, unwittingly under the Luftwaffe flightpath to and from industrial targets in the Midlands. It was not unknown for unused bombs...

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