Dorothy Eustis, piano – Los Angeles Philharmonic – Artur Rodzinski, cond. – Hollywood Bowl – July 13, 1950 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Another historic concert this week, also from the 1950 season of the Hollywood Bowl. This time it’s pianist Dorothy Eustis with the L.A. Philharmonic conducted by Artur Rodzinski in music of Glinka, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky. It was recorded on July 13, 1950 and intended for an abbreviated, delayed broadcast by NBC radio.
The concert starts with Glinka’s Rusland und Ludmilla overture, followed by Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Dorothy Eustis joins the orchestra in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second piano concert and the concert concludes with Stravinky’s Firebird Suite.
Originally intended to be an all-Russian concert with the Shostakovich Symphony Number 5, however as it was announced, there wasn’t sufficient rehearsal time for the Shostakovich so the Beethoven substituted. The audience seems rather happy – not sure if it’s because Beethoven was the favorite or that Shostakovich wasn’t. At any rate, a burst of applause when the substitution was announced.
Dorothy Eustis is something of a tragic figure as is described in this bio from Historylink.org:
Dorothy Helen Eustis was a child-prodigy pianist from Seattle whose precocious skills led to an astonishing performance with the Seattle Symphony as a mere youth in 1930. After studying at the Cornish School and at University of Washington, she went on to an acclaimed career presenting recitals at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. She was lauded by the likes of maestros Leopold Stokowski (1881-1977), Jose Iturbi (1895-1980), and Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961). Eustis performed on radio and television, and cut records and Hollywood movie soundtracks — indeed, she has been credited as “the first woman pianist to record for the films” (“Miss Eustis In Person”). The nation’s media enthusiastically tracked her career. But then, she effectively disappeared for decades. It was in 1995 that her sad saga surfaced: Eustis had quietly moved to Italy in 1988; fallen mute with dementia in 1993; and had been cared for since at Venice’s Giustinian Hospital. Tagged by the media as the “mystery patient,” her estranged family in the Northwest suddenly discovered the fate of their long-lost member. Toward the end, a group of nuns volunteered to care for the fragile Eustis at their convent in Florence, where she died in 2001.
Needless to say, the stuff of mysteries. By all accounts, she recorded very little and this performance has most likely not been heard since it was first performed in 1950.
Enjoy the show.