Grescoe, Donna

Grescoe, Donna, b 17 November 1927 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Violinist of Ukrainian background. She started playing the violin at age five and was performing in local vaudeville by the age of eight. A $5,000 scholarship received in 1938 allowed the budding prodigy to study at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. She made her formal debut in Winnipeg in October 1946, after which she continued her studies with Michel Piastro in New York. There she had her local debut in February 1947 at Town Hall and also played Carnegie Hall in January 1948. Both dates were important milestones. She continued to work out of New York, although she performed a number of times with Canadian symphonic orchestras in Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal. In the latter part of 1953 she also began to play more popular venues, including Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” television program. She gave her last solo performance in 1959 and later returned to Winnipeg, where she was a member of the city’s symphony orchestra in 1974–9. She help to establish the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts in 1984 and taught there until 1988. She then moved to Vancouver. Lyn Cook’s The Little Magic Fiddler (1951) provides a semi-fictionalized account based on Grescoe’s life from ages nine to fourteen.

[This article was updated in 2009.]

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