Alma Moodie is perhaps the most gifted violinist ever to have left Australia, acclaimed in Germany in her youth as a “rare apparition in the world of virtuosity”. Born in Mount Morgan, Queensland, in 1898, Moodie left Australia when she was nine for studies in Brussels with internationally renowned teachers. Through the tumultuous years of the First World War, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich she forged an exceptional career, playing with the likes of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under conductors including Nikisch, Furtwängler and Fritz Busch. Her untimely death in 1943 suggests that she was a victim of war just as surely as those many others whose fates were less ambiguous. By all accounts a charismatic personality and a prodigious musician, she left no recordings and has slipped into an obscurity as deep as it is undeserved. In piecing together the details of Moodie’s life, Kay Dreyfus reclaims her reputation as one of the outstanding violinists of her generation and as a leading exponent of the contemporary music of her day.
Kay Dreyfus is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of Historical, Philosophical and International Studies (SOPHIS) at Monash University. Her background is in musicology and history and she holds doctorates in both areas. As curator of the Grainger Museum in Melbourne she edited The Farthest North of Humanness, Letters of Percy Grainger 1901–1914 (1985). She has a particular interest in everyday musical experience in Australia, especially that of women and immigrants, and her publications include Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of Australia’s All-Girl Bands and Orchestras to the End of the Second World War (1999) and Silences and Secrets: The Australian Experience of the Weintraubs Syncopators (2013).
"... an engaging and scholarly book", Michael Cathcart, Books & Arts Daily, Radio National, 3 February 2014
"… it is something to celebrate that Alma Moodie has been rediscovered in this sensitive, fair-minded biography, lavishly illustrated and beautifully produced by Lyrebird Press", Sheila Fitzpatrick, Australian Book Review, February 2014
Published December 2013
Downloadable pdf: xii, 183 p.