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Thursday 23 January 2014
Violinist and former RCM professor Maria Lidka has died aged 99 (1914-2013). She was a notable figure in British musical life and gave numerous premieres of new works.
Maria followed her teacher, Max Rostal, to London to escape the Nazi regime, moving here from Germany in 1934. She made her Wigmore Hall debut in 1939. In 1941 she was chosen to replace Marie Hlounova in the Czech Trio, along with Walter Susskind and Karel Hritz, where she changed her name from Liedtke to Lidka to make it sound ‘more Czech’. After the War, she played with the London String Trio.
Early in the war, she had to spend the night in a police cell after breaking her ‘enemy alien’ curfew by lingering at a chamber music evening; this saved her life, as the next morning she discovered her home had been obliterated by bombing.
Maria continued to champion new music, performing regularly at Myra Hess’ lunchtime concerts at the National Gallery, often with Benjamin Britten. Two of her most notable performances were the premiere of Tippett’s Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli, conducted by the composer, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1953, the second was the premiere of Fricker's First Violin Concerto, which was composed for her; both were later repeated at the Proms.
She was a much sought-after violin professor at the RCM from 1968 – 1985.