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Eileen Joyce (1908 - 1991)

Eileen Joyce’s mother was Spanish and her father, an itinerant labourer and mining prospector, was Irish. Eileen was born into relative poverty, in a tent, in the mining town of Zeehan, Tasmania and brought up near Boulder City in Western Australia. Educated at St Joseph’s Convent, her first instruction at the piano came from her mother. In 1926 Percy Grainger heard the fourteen-year-old Eileen, calling her ‘the most transcendentally gifted child’ he had heard. Wilhelm Backhaus also heard her and recommended that she study in Leipzig. A fund was set up to support her travel and tuition in Germany, and she studied there with Max Pauer and Robert Teichmuller. Pauer gave her the Étude in A flat Op. 1 No. 2 by Paul de Schlözer to study, and when the André family, with whom she was staying in Leipzig, suggested she study the basics of piano playing with Teichmuller, she played this piece for him. Teichmuller provided Joyce with all the ground-work for a strong technique but never charged her for his guidance. She also was exposed to and learnt unusual repertoire such as Reger’s Piano Concerto and the Burleske by Richard Strauss.




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