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Lili Kraus (1903 - 1986)

Lili Kraus was born into an environment of near-poverty. Her Czech father made a poor living sharpening knives and scissors whilst her mother, a Hungarian, was a singer denied a career as it was thought inappropriate at that time for a woman. Lili, encouraged by her mother, began piano lessons at the age of six, and two years later enrolled at the Budapest Academy of Music. At nine she began piano studies with Arnold Székely, composition with Zoltán Kodály and chamber music with Leo Weiner. At seventeen Kraus graduated from the Budapest Academy and went to Vienna to continue her studies with Severin Eisenberger and Edward Steuermann. She also returned to Budapest after graduating to receive piano lessons from Béla Bartók.

During her studies Kraus made her debut in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Willem Mengelberg, and the following year began teaching at the Vienna Academy. A year later she was made a full professor, teaching for six years at the Academy. During the early 1920s she appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and also played for Wilhelm Furtwängler, who suggested she study with Artur Schnabel. Kraus and her husband moved to Berlin so that Kraus could attend Schnabel’s master-classes for four years.




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