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Phyllis Sellick (1911 - 2007)

Phyllis Sellick was born 16th June, 1911. She began her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where she was awarded the Blakiston Memorial Prize in 1926. After studying privately with Isidore Philipp in Paris, she made her début in 1933 playing the Grieg Piano Concerto. As a soloist she gave the first performances of many works by mid-century British composers, including Tippett’s Fantasy Sonata in 1938 and his Fantasia on a Theme of Handel in 1942. In 1937, she married the pianist Cyril Smith and in 1941 they formed a piano duo which gave concerts and recorded widely during the 1940s and 1950s. Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto for Phyllis and Cyril (1969) was dedicated to her, as were works by Vaughan Williams, Arthur Bliss and Gordon Jacob. Separately, she recorded, among other works, the Tippett Sonata and Walton’s Sinfonia Concertante (with the composer conducting). Following a stroke in 1956 which paralyzed Smith’s left hand, the couple continued to perform together, an experience recounted in the book Duet for Three Hands (London, 1958), to which she contributed a chapter. Phyllis Sellick taught at the Royal College of Music from 1964 to 1992, and was awarded the OBE in 1971. As a result of a sponsorship from Rimington van Wyck (a London record-dealer and publisher), Sellick recorded in 1940 and 1941 for British Decca a number of 78rpm discs, including works by Tippett, Couperin, Rameau, Daquin, Debussy, Ibert, Poulenc and this wonderful interpretation of Maurice Ravel’s Toccata,




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