Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1965-2009 - Not traced (Willesden)

Pianist and teacher Maria Curcio born 27 August 1919 in Naples, the daughter of an Italian businessman and a Brazilian mother, a pianist in her own right. A child prodigy, she was pushed relentlessly by her mother. At the age of fifteen she was taught by Artur Schnabel who was impressed by her talent. At that period she met Peter Diamand, born in Austria and educated in Berlin, who worked as Schnabel’s secretary.

During the Second World War he survived Westerbork concentration camp, and went on to play his role as an arts administrator in Amsterdam and would eventually become Director of the Holland Festival. Curcio and Diamand married in 1947. Her poor health meant a performing career was no longer an option, so she turned to teaching. With the help of Benjamin Britten, she settled in London in 1965. Living in a dark basement flat in Willesden, she became one of the most inspiring teachers of her age. Her marriage to Peter was dissolved in 1971 (he was Director of the Edinburgh Festival 1965 to 1978). She died in March 2009.

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