Grescoe, Donna

Identity area

Type of entity

Person

Authorized form of name

Grescoe, Donna

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Description area

Dates of existence

1927-2012

History

Donna Grescoe was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 17 November 1927 and began playing the violin at the age of five. She gained early renown for her abilities and at age 14 was described as a “genius” by British pianist, composer, and Royal College of Music professor Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960), an adjudicator at the Manitoba Musical Festival. Three years earlier, as an 11-year-old, Donna won a $5,000 scholarship to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago (1938-1939) and also studied briefly with Mischa Mischakoff (1895-1981), concertmaster of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, in New York City. While in New York Donna performed on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, American radio’s most popular talent show, and at the Ukrainian American Festival, part of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the fall of 1943, more than one year after a benefit concert organized by the publishers of the Winnipeg Evening Tribune financed the creation of the Donna Grescoe Educational Trust Fund, Donna resumed her studies in New York City. This time she spent four years (1943-1947) studying with violinist Mischel Piastro (1891-1970), a prominent concertmaster and conductor, with little teaching experience.

Donna’s professional career as a concert violinist was launched on 1 October 1946 before a sold-out house of 4,500 at the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium. Her New York City debut at Town Hall on 3 February 1947 was attended by representatives of Winnipeg’s political and business elite. A year later, on 30 January 1948, Donna performed at Carnegie Hall. She would go on a concert tour of Canada in 1948-49, and during her early career performed with renowned groups such as the Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras. Despite her early success, however, she received few opportunities to perform on stage in concert. Refusing to remain idle, in 1953 she began to perform at nightclubs. She would later play at the Canadian National Exhibition and on television, including Toast of the Town hosted by Ed Sullivan in 1955. She married Bjorn Guillichsen later that same year and gave her last solo performance in 1959. She would then move back to Winnipeg and briefly perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra from 1974-1979. Following her concert career Donna also became a founding member of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts and, in addition, also became one of its teachers. She also commissioned fourteen musical compositions. In 1988 she would retire from teaching and also married again, this time to cellist Charles Dojack. She died in Richmond, British Columbia on 17 August 2012.

Places

Winnipeg, Manitoba; New York, New York

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Functions, occupations and activities

Debuted in Winnipeg on 1 October 1946 at the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium, and in New York City debut at Town Hall on 3 February 1947. Performed at Carnegie Hall 30 January 1948 before embarking on tour of Canada in 1948-49. Performed with Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras. Gave her last solo performance in 1959. Moved back to Winnipeg and briefly perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra from 1974-1979. Became a founding member of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts and teacher post concert career.

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Authority record identifier

Grescoe_D

Institution identifier

UCECA

Rules and/or conventions used

Rules for Archival Description (RAD)

Status

Final

Level of detail

Full

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created March 2021

Language(s)

  • English

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  • EAC

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