“When I'm at the Steinway, I just think of the music and the Steinway responds completely to my innermost feelings.”
Dame Moura Lympany (1916-2005) was one of the most colorful of concert pianists, with audiences throughout the world during a career which extended uninterrupted for more than 65 years; though chiefly associated with the romantic repertory, she also championed several contemporary concertos. Her agent once described her as "never late, not temperamental and with wonderful vitality. She never dropped her standards in any way." She herself said she played best after a good night's sleep and a good steak.
During the Second World War, she became a national figure, playing at the National Gallery lunchtime concerts and performing concertos with orchestras throughout Britain. She was an indispensable part of wartime musical life when piano concertos were all the rage. In 1940 she gave the British premiere of Khachaturyan's concerto, with which she became identified.
Despite her popularity with the public, she was underrated by most of the critics, who begat a suspicion of her glamour, charm, fashionable dresses and social réclame. But the discerning recognized that her playing, especially of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, was exceptional in its accuracy and sensitivity. She was the first to record all Rachmaninov's Preludes.
She was also the first British musician to perform in Paris after the liberation, when she played Alan Rawsthorne's first concerto while German gunfire could still be heard outside the city.