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Lubka Kolessa (1902 - 1997)


Lubka Kolessa came from a very musical family which boasted composers, a cellist and an ethnomusicologist among its members. She received her first piano lessons from her grandmother who had studied with Karl Mikuli, a pupil of Chopin. When young Lubka was four years old, the family moved to Vienna and it was there that she received her musical training from Louis Thern and Emil von Sauer. At thirteen she won the Bösendorfer Prize and two years later was already giving many concerts. She graduated from the Vienna State Academy at the age of eighteen and some ten years later also studied with Eugen d’Albert.

Between the wars, Kolessa performed throughout Europe and worked with the greatest conductors of the time including Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, Richard Strauss, Willem Mengelberg, Erich Kleiber and Hermann Abendroth; in the 1937 season she gave 178 concerts and appeared on television in England. The outbreak of World War II caused Kolessa to move to Canada; here she settled with her new husband, and after making her debut in her adopted country, Kolessa joined the teaching faculty of the Toronto Conservatory of Music where she remained for seven years, all the while performing and broadcasting on Canadian radio.

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