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Maud Powell was born on 22 August 1867, in Peru, Illinois, on America’s western frontier. Her grandparents were Methodist missionaries in Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois before the Civil War. Her father William Bramwell Powell (1836–1904) was an innovative educator, who earned a national reputation as superintendent of public schools in Peru, then Aurora, Illinois, and finally in Washington, D.C. Her mother Wilhelmina Bengelstraeter Paul (1843–1925) was an accomplished pianist and gifted amateur composer. She and Maud’s aunts were active in the women’s suffrage movement. Her uncle John Wesley Powell was a Civil War hero and the first explorer of the Grand Canyon. He organized the scientific study of the western lands and of the native American Indians as the powerful director of the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Ethnology and founder of the National Geographic Society.

A prodigy, Maud Powell began violin study at seven in Aurora, then studied four years with William Lewis in Chicago. She completed her training with the great masters Henry Schradieck in Leipzig, Charles Dancla in Paris and Joseph Joachim in Berlin. She made her New York début in 1885 at eighteen performing the Bruch G minor Violin Concerto with America’s foremost conductor Theodore Thomas and the New York Philharmonic. The intelligence, energy, and vigour in her playing reflected her American spirit and the brilliance, optimism and enthusiasm with which she lived. Powell performed with all the great European and American conductors and orchestras of her day, knew nearly every contemporary European and American composer personally and their music, and received international acclaim as one of the greatest artists of her time as she toured from St Petersburg in Russia, to South Africa, and to Hawaii.

Although Powell died of a heart attack while on tour on 8 January 1920, at the early age of 52, during her short lifetime she transformed the art of violin-playing and set a new standard for performance and programming. A legendary figure, her influence was pivotal in the development of classical music in North America. Through her devotion to her violin, her art, and humanity, she became America’s first great master of the violin, winning the love and admiration of all who fell under the spell of her commanding bow and magnetic personality.

© Karen A. Shaffer

Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
View by Role: Classical Artist | Arranger
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
POWELL, Maud: Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (1904-1917) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music
POWELL, Maud: Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (1904-1917) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music
POWELL, Maud: Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (1904-1917) Naxos Historical
Orchestral, Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Orchestral, Chamber Music
POWELL, Maud: Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (1904-1917) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Orchestral


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7:58:51 AM, 17 April 2014
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