McGill University establishes Lubka Kolessa Piano Scholarship Fund

MONTREAL - The faculty of music at McGill University has established the Lubka Kolessa Piano Scholarship Fund to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Lubka Kolessa (1902-1997), the legendary concert pianist and a McGill faculty of music professor from 1960 to 1971. Initiated by former students and friends of Ms. Kolessa, the scholarship will be awarded annually to an outstanding piano student enrolled in the faculty of music.

Ms. Kolessa who was born in Lviv, studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Fine Arts with Louis Thern and the Liszt pupil Ernil von Sauer. On her graduation in 1918 she was awarded the coveted Bösendorfer Prize - a concert grand piano. In 1920, she received the Master Class Diploma and the State Prize, then the highest award in Austria. She continued her studies with Eugene d'Albert and Wilhelm Furtwängler, who took a keen interest in her career.

Ms. Kolessa's concert tours took her to most musical centers in Europe and in South America. Her last pre-war concert season consisted of 178 engagements. Ms. Kolessa frequently appeared with major orchestras and conductors such as Böhm, Furtwängler, Kleiber, Mengelberg, von Karajan and Walter, and was recognized by the international music world as a front-rank concert pianist. After arriving in Canada in 1940, she became a frequent recitalist and soloist with orchestras, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. She performed regularly on the CBC, presenting several series of recitals for the network, including a Bach, a Mozart, a Beethoven, a Schubert and a Chopin series.

Bruno Walter considered her "certainly one of the most superb pianists of our time." Reviews of her performances were unanimous in their praise: "A star of the first order ..." (Berlin); "Wonderful phrasing, poetic detail, elastic rhythm ..." (Vienna); "A decidedly outstanding talent" (London); "Kolessa's playing is brilliant ... with true insight into the musical contents" (New York); "Her magnificent interpretation ... offered rare hours of spiritual happiness" (Rio de Janeiro); "A rival of the most famous virtuosos of our era" (Madrid).

Ms. Kolessa is remembered in Canada also as a brilliant teacher. She began teaching at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, now the Royal Conservatory of Music, in 1942, and headed the Senior School there in 1946-1949. In Montreal she taught at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec (1951-1973), École Vincent d'lndy (1955-1966) and in the faculty of music at McGill University (1960-1971).

As a student of two Liszt pupils, Ms. Kolessa handed down this famous tradition to her many Canadian students. These include conductor Mario Bernardi; composers Clermont Pépin and John Hawkins, and pianists Andre Asselin, Paul Baillargeon, Howard Brown, Patricia grant Lewis, Richard Gresko, Millicent Kavanaugh, Paul Helmer, Gordon Kushner, John McKay, Louis-Phillipe Pelletier, Eugene Plawutsky, Karen Quinton, Pierrette Froment Savoie, Luba Zuk and Ireneus Zuk, among many others.

The Kolessa Scholarship will be awarded annually to an outstanding piano student in the faculty of music at McGill University. The Ukrainian community may wish to honor Lubka Kolessa's memory and perpetuate her musical legacy by contributing to the scholarship fund named after her.

Interested individuals may send donations, payable to McGill University (memo: Lubka Kolessa Scholarship Fund [02968] to: Development Office, McGill University Faculty of Music, The Lubka Kolessa Piano Scholarship Fund, 555 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, Quebec H3A 1E3. For credit card charges on either Mastercard or Visa please call Erika White at (514) 398-8157.

A tax receipt will be issued for all donations.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, April 27, 2003, No. 17, Vol. LXXI

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