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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Ballon, Ellen

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Ellen Ballon (1898 - 1969)


Ellen Ballon. Pianist, b Montreal, of Russian parents; honorary D MUS (McGill) 1954. She was a child prodigy and at the age of six, in the inaugural year of the McGill Cons (1904), won the first director’s scholarship awarded at that school. She studied there with Clara Lichtenstein. As a child Ballon was praised by Josef Hofmann (whose pupil she became later, in Switzerland and again in New York), Adele aus der Ohe, and Raoul Pugno. Arthur Rubinstein is said to have declared her ‘the greatest pianistic genius I have ever met’. Following a farewell recital at Royal Victoria College in Montreal 27 Dec 1906 she was sent to New York to study with Rafael Joseffy (her patrons were the Canadian prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and the principal of McGill University, Sir William Peterson). She was a child when she made her New York debut in March 1910, playing concertos of Mendelssohn (G minor) and Beethoven (C major) with the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch. In 1912 President Taft invited her to perform at the White House (she returned to play for President Roosevelt in 1934 and for President Eisenhower in 1954). She continued her studies in New York with Josef Hofmann and in Vienna with Wilhelm

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