This year at the Grammy Awards, Lifetime Achievement awards are going to bands like and — long overdue, you could say. But they look like young punks next to another Lifetime Achievement recipient: Maud Powell.
was born in Illinois in 1867. She picked up the violin as a young child
and really never put it down. At the turn of the 20th century,
classical music in America was scoffed at by Europeans. But Powell
became the first American-born violinist — man or woman — to change that
by winning over European audiences. She toured, playing her violin for
audiences across the U.S. In those days, if a woman made music, she
usually played the piano, and she did it in parlor rooms or at dinner
parties —not in the spotlight on a stage.
is a violinst who has long been inspiried by Maud Powell, even
releasing her own tribute recordings of Powell's work. Barton Pine says
that though she grew up a big fan of music history, she never
encountered Powell until she was 20 years old, and received a copy of
Powell's biography in the mail from its author, Karen Shaffer.
was a real revelation — not just because of how she was the greatest
woman violinist in the world during her lifetime, and playing the works
of black composers when white instrumentalists just didn't do that,"
Barton Pine says. "It was the values by which she lived her life,
playing concerts for communities that had never before had a classical
concert, and using the recording technology as a further way to spread
great music all over the place to people who had not yet had a chance to
fall in love with it."
Rachel Barton Pine is one of the people
accepting the Lifetime Achievement Grammy on behalf of Maud Powell, who
died in 1920. Hear more of her conversation with NPR's Rachel Martin at
the audio link.