The Gift of Music

Monday, 7 September 2015
Perry, Geoffrey William, 1900-1959. Marie Vandewart, Erika Schorss and Dorothy Davies. Davies, Dorothy :Box of photographs relating to the work of Dorothy Davies; two albums. Ref: PAColl-0030-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

We have recently joined Include a Charity - this week is Include a Charity Week

They work with some of New Zealand’s most-loved charities, to encourage more people to include gifts in their wills. 6-12 September 2015 is Include a Charity Week, aimed at raising public awareness of the importance of charitable gifts in wills.

We thought this was the ideal week to share a story about one of our wonderful supporters, cellist and music educator Marie Vandewart. She is pictured above with the Dorothy Davies trio; in a photo taken around 1946 (Alexander Turnbull Library). She is on the left holding the cello, next to Erika Schorss (violin), and Dorothy Davies (piano).

Marie Vandewart Blaschke (1911-2006 ) 

Marie Vandewart was born into a music-loving Jewish family in Berlin. Marie was a talented and hard-working cellist from an early age - in the early 1930s she entered the famous Berlin Hochscule für Musik. Her teachers were Otto Niedermeyer and Enrico Mainardi, and she also took private lessons from Emanuel Feuermann, one of the greatest cellists of the century.

At the rise of Nazism in Germany, Marie was expelled from the Hochschule along with other Jewish students and teachers. She managed to obtain an exit visa and sponsor: a sheep farmer from Gisborne, New Zealand. She arrived in Wellington as a refugee in July of 1939, and immediately immersed herself into musical life in Wellington; teaching and playing a wide range of concerts.

A seminal musical event was the formation of the Dorothy Davies Trio in the early 1940s: Marie; violinist Erika Schorss, who had also been a student in the Berlin Hochshule; and Dorothy Davies, an already well-known New Zealand pianist who had studied in Germany. (All pictured above). This trio played widely during the war and immediately after, including concerts in many other New Zealand cities.

Marie was a founding member of the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, playing as principal cellist and sometimes as soloist. She was also the cellist with the Francis Rosner Quartet, one of New Zealand’s first regular string quartets of professional players. There were also many other chamber music performances, tours with Donald Munro’s fledgling New Zealand Opera Company, occasional stints in the cello section of the National Orchestra (later the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) and chamber music and solo recordings, including the first New Zealand performances of the Bach cello suites.

In 1961 Marie was offered the position of cello teacher in the new Executant Music Course in the Music Department of Auckland University. Marie was on the staff for 15 years, teaching and performing. Marie’s retirement from the university in 1976 saw her continue to teach privately into the 1990s.

She passed away in 2006, at the age of 94. Generations of students benefitted from her expert tuition and enthusiasm for chamber music. Her family established a memorial award in her honour.

The Marie Vandewart Memorial Award is awarded each year to a special member of the NZ community, in recognition of their outstanding service and commitment to fostering a love of chamber music.

It only takes a quick glance at the list of past winners to see the immense dedication that goes into chamber music education around the country:

2007 - Ellen Doyle (cellist and coach, Christchurch)
2008 - Anne McLellan (district contest organiser, Auckland)
2009 - Hugh Stevenson (HOD Music, Burnside High School, Christchurch)
2010 - Marian Stronach (music teacher, Napier)
2011 - Rae de Lisle (pianist and teacher, Auckland)
2012 - June Clifford (pianist, teacher, and CMNZ Board Chair, Napier)
2013 - Gillian Bibby (composer, pianist and teacher, Wellington)
2014 - Shona Thomson (district contest organiser, Invercargill)
2015 - Ingrid Culliford (flutist, teacher and district contest organiser, Wanganui)

It is a pleasure to be able to recognise the service of our community members each year at the National Finals of the NZCT Chamber Music Contest.

We could not do this without the bequest from Marie Vandewart. The generosity of our supporters ensures the future of chamber music in New Zealand, making a positive difference to communities around the country. 

A bequest can support Chamber Music New Zealand in a range of ways: from general nationwide operations and development, to concert presentations, artist touring, and supporting concerts and outreach activities in a specific town or city.

You can visit our page on the Include a Charity website to find out more.