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updated: 1/10/2014 11:44 AM

Grammy Award goes to Aurora violinist Maud Powell

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  • Maud Powell autographs phonograph discs from the Victor Talking Machine Company's Red Seal label, circa 1915.

      Maud Powell autographs phonograph discs from the Victor Talking Machine Company's Red Seal label, circa 1915.
    Courtesy the Maud Powell Society

 
Aurora Historical Society

A 2014 Grammy award for Lifetime Achievement is being awarded posthumously to the legendary Maud Powell (1867-1920), the best American violinist of her time and a native of Aurora, Illinois.

Born in Peru, Illinois in 1867, Powell grew up in Aurora where she learned to play the violin and first achieved fame as a child prodigy. Her gifts were so great that her mother took her to Europe at the age of 13 in order to receive a world-class education. After becoming an international sensation and touring the world, Maud Powell devoted herself to bringing classical music to North America. She traveled tirelessly by train to every city, town and hamlet she could squeeze into her schedule. She premiered works by little-known European composers such as Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Sibelius, and raised up the American Negro spiritual as an art form by combining those songs with more-expected concert fare. She faithfully championed American composers and women composers. With restraint and grace she not only elevated American culture, but quietly and without comment broke the glass ceiling on women musicians.

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In addition to conquering the traditional concert stage, she became a star of the newest audio technology, which provided her a cutting-edge way to communicate her love of music to a country eager to adopt innovations. In 1904 she made the first solo-instrument recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company's celebrity series, and until her untimely death of a heart attack at the age of 52 in 1920, recorded prolifically.

Powell was nominated by Chicago violinist and member of the Recording Academy, Rachel Barton Pine, whose 2007 CD, American Virtuosa, pays tribute to her. The award will be accepted in Los Angeles on January 25, 2014 by Karen Shaffer, president of the Maud Powell Society which is headquartered in North Carolina.

Attached is the full release from the Maud Powell Society. For more information please visit www.maudpowell.org.

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