Marian Grudeff

Marian (b Marion) Grudeff. Pianist, composer, teacher, b Toronto, of Bulgarian parents, 18 Apr 1927, d Toronto 4 Nov 2006.

Grudeff, Marian

Marian (b Marion) Grudeff. Pianist, composer, teacher, b Toronto, of Bulgarian parents, 18 Apr 1927, d Toronto 4 Nov 2006. She began piano studies with her mother, continued with Mona Bates at 8, made her first appearance in Liszt's Hungarian Fantasy with the TSO at 11, and shortly after gave a recital at Eaton Auditorium. After establishing a reputation in Canada she appeared in New York with the New York Philharmonic in 1946 and at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall in 1950. She taught 1948-52 at the RCMT, continued to give concerts, and toured British Columbia in 1951. Later she studied piano with Eduard Steuermann in New York and composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and performed in Europe. Throughout the 1950s and the early 1960s she was connected with the Toronto revue Spring Thaw, beginning in 1950 as a rehearsal pianist, as an arranger and then serving 1956-62 as music director.

Grudeff moved to New York in 1963 and collaborated with Ray Jessel writing lyrics and music (1957-63). Grudeff and Jessel were requested by the producer Alexander H. Cohen to write songs for the musical Baker Street (book, New York 1966; vocal selections, E.B. Marks 1964), that was loosely based on the story of Sherlock Holmes. The show opened first, 28 Dec 1964, at the Shubert Theatre in Boston, then was revised for Broadway and, after two weeks 'out-of-town' at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre, opened 16 Feb 1965 in New York. Called 'one of the best musicals in the 1960s' (Emory Lewis, Cue, 23 Feb 1965), it was recorded with the original cast (1965, MGM E-7000) and some songs from the show were re-recorded for the album Hit Songs from Baker Street and Other Broadway Musicals (1965, MGM S-4293). Grudeff & Jessel co-wrote the score for Hellzapoppin, another Cohen production, and Louis Armstrong included Hellzapoppin on his album 'What a Wonderful World' (1968). Grudeff and Jessel also collaborated on the musical Life Can Be - Like Wow, produced in 1969 by the Charlottetown Festival. Grudeff taught 1972-9 at the RCMT and in 1976 she took up her performing career again in a series of concerts (1976-7) with the Royal Conservatory Trio and a solo recital (May 1977) at the St Lawrence Centre, Toronto. Following studies in New York with Karl Ulrich Schnabel, she gave a series of recitals in Bulgaria in November 1979. From 1981 Grudeff taught piano privately in Toronto.


Further Reading

  • Kritzwiser, Kay. 'Musical about master showman adds a link in Toronto pair's jigsaw,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 4 Aug 1962

    Gehman, Richard. 'The case of the tortured tunesmiths (or quick, Watson - the music!),' Maclean's, 3 Apr 1965

    'At times I felt like an oddity..'. Fugue, Nov 1977