The pianist who lived in her car was half-Russian

The fullest account of poor Anne Naysmith, killed last week by a lorry in west London, appears today in the Independent newspaper. The obituary writer Garry Humphries knew the old lady and provides some fascinating facts – that she was just 39 when she went to live in her car, that she had been a rising artist on the Wilfred Van Wyck list, that her mother was Russian and that she performed what must have been the London premieres of piano works by the mystic and altogether absorbing Russian composer, Karamanov. Read here.

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  • The fact that Wilfred Van Wyck managed the Wigmore Hall concert does not mean that he necessarily took any financial risk. In those days, most Wigmore Hall recitals were essentially paid for by the artists (or on their behalf) and firms like Van Wyck and especially Ibbs and Tilllett simply took a management fee for handing these. Self promoted events for up and coming artists, and more established ones too, did not imply that they were not good enough to be promoted by managers and agents, it was just how the system worked in those days.

  • Thanks, Norman, for picking this up – and Richard for the pertinent comment. Mine was not the first obituary of Anne Smith: there was an earlier one in the Telegraph, at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11405187/Anne-Naysmith-pianist-obituary.html, and a Google search will reveal articles elsewhere, following her death and from previous years.

    I can’t say I knew her, but she was a familiar figure in all sorts of places over the years. We tried to find a picture of her in her playing days, but without success. The printed programmes of the two Wigmore concerts were both single 8″ x 10″ sheets printed on both sides but without an illustration. I’d love to know if anyone else can find one. There’s nothing in the Wigmore Hall archives and I haven’t yet succeeded in locating the present whereabouts of the van Wyck company records, if indeed they still exist. Can anyone help?

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