Destiny: The extraordinary career of pianist Eileen Joyce
Place of Publication
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
A more unlikely beginning to an extraordinary career could scarcely be imagined. From the goldfields of Western Australia, at the edge of the great Australian inland desert, Eileen Joyce (1908–91) defied her humble beginnings to forge a career that took her to the pinnacle of twentieth-century pianism. Described by Percy Grainger in 1926 as “the most transcendentally gifted young piano student [he had] heard in the last 25 years”, Joyce proceeded from her early studies in Western Australia to three years of advanced training at the Leipzig Conservatorium. It was there—largely through study with Robert Teichmüller—that she acquired the formidable technique and astonishing clarity of fingerwork that were to characterise her pianism throughout her thirty-year career. In 1930, London replaced Leipzig as Joyce’s artistic base and it was here, soon after her arrival, that she launched her career with a performance of the notoriously difficult third piano concerto by Prokofiev, with Henry Wood conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in one of his legendary Promenade concerts.