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Kathleen Parlow


‘The Canadian Violinist’ (also nicknamed ‘the Lady of the Golden Bow’) in fact spent almost fifty years outside Canada. Courtesy of her mother’s determination and some timely financial assistance she was able to train in Europe, and on hearing a very young Elman in concert she set her heart on completing her studies under his teacher, Auer. A loan from Lord Strathcona enabled this and Parlow became the only female (and the youngest foreigner) in Auer’s class of forty-five students.

On her first European tour the wealthy Einar Björnson bought her a 1735 Guarnerius previously owned by Viotti. Glazunov, a friend and colleague from St Petersburg days, invited her to play his Violin Concerto at the Ostend Festival in 1907.

A North American tour in 1910–1911 made Parlow’s name there, critics in New York hailing her as Elman’s equal. Thomas Edison asked her to record for him and she soon became a Columbia artist. She found, however, that touring took its toll upon her and from 1929 turned increasingly to teaching, first in California, then New York and finally Toronto in 1941. She also had a great interest in chamber music, and after her return to Canada formed the Canadian Trio and Parlow Quartet, which were both extremely popular. At her death, proceeds from the sale of her Guarnerius funded the Kathleen Parlow Scholarship for students of stringed instruments at Toronto University.

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