Leginska(real name, Liggins), Ethel

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Leginska(real name, Liggins), Ethel

Leginska(real name, Liggins), Ethel, English pianist, teacher, and composer; b. Hull, April 13, 1886; d. Los Angeles, Feb. 26, 1970. She showed a natural talent for music at an early age; the pseudonym Leginska was given to her by Lady Maud Warrender, under the illusion that a Polish-looking name might help her artistic career. She studied piano wih Kwast at the Hoch Cons, in Frankfurt am Main, and later in Vienna with Leschetizky. After making her London debut (1907), she toured Europe; on Jan. 20, 1913, she appeared for the first time in America at a recital in N.Y. Her playing was described as having masculine vigor, dashing brilliance, and great variety of tonal color; however, criticism was voiced against an individualistic treatment of classical works. In the midst of her career as a pianist, she developed a great interest in conducting; she organized the Boston Phil. Orch. (100 players), later the Women’s Sym. Orch. of Boston; appeared as a guest conductor with various orchs. in America and in Europe. In this field of activity, she also elicited interest, leading to a discussion in the press of a woman’s capability of conducting an orch. While in the U.S., she took courses in composition with Rubin Goldmark and Ernest Bloch; wrote music in various genres, distinguished by rhythmic display and a certain measure of modernism. She married Emerson Whithorne in 1907 (divorced in 1916). In 1939 she settled in Los Angeles as a piano teacher.


dramatic: Opera: The Rose and the Ring (1932; Los Angeles, Feb. 23, 1957, composer conducting); Gale (Chicago, Nov. 23, 1935, composer conducting). orch.:Beyond the Fields We Know, symphonic poem (N.Y., Feb. 12, 1922); 2 Short Pieces (Boston, Feb. 29, 1924, Monteux conducting); Quatre sujets barbares, suite (Munich, Dec. 13, 1924, composer conducting); Fantasy for Piano and Orch. (N.Y., Jan. 3, 1926). chamber: String Quartet, inspired by 4 poems by Tagore (Boston, April 25, 1921); From a Life for 13 Instruments (N.Y., Jan. 9, 1922); Triptych for 11 Instruments(Chicago, April 29, 1928); piano pieces. vocal:6 Nursery Rhymes for Soprano and Chamber Orch.; songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire