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Moura Lympany


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Dame Moura Lympany DBE (August 18, 1916 - March 28, 2005) was an English concert pianist.

She was born at Saltash in Cornwall, and christened Mary Johnstone. Her father was an army officer who had served in World War I and her mother originally taught her the piano. Mary was sent to a convent school in Belgium, where her musical talent was encouraged, and she went on to study at Liège, later winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

After auditioning for the conductor, Basil Cameron, she made her concert debut at the age of twelve. It was at this stage that she changed her name, taking her mother’s maiden name of Limpenny, with an alternative spelling.

She went on to study in Vienna with Paul Weingarten and in London with Mathilde Verne, who had been a pupil of Clara Schumann. In 1935, she made her London debut at the Wigmore Hall, and in 1938 she came second in the Ysaÿe piano competition in Brussels. By the Second World War, she was one of the UK’s most popular pianists. In 1940 she gave the British premiere of Aram Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto in D flat, one of the pieces most closely associated with her. In 1944 she married Colin Defries, but they divorced in 1950. In 1951 she married Bennet H. Korn, an American television executive, and moved to the USA where she had two miscarriages, and a son who died shortly after birth. They divorced in 1961. She became a close friend of the politician and amateur musician, Edward Heath, and mutual friends expressed hopes that they might marry, but Heath was a “confirmed bachelor”.


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