Fanny Davies (27 June 1861 – 1 September 1934) was an English pianist who was particularly admired in Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and the early schools, but was also a very early London performer of the works of Debussy and Scriabin. In England, she was regarded as the 'successor' of Arabella Goddard, though her style and technique differed from Goddard's considerably.
Davies was born in Guernsey. Her first public performances were in Birmingham at the age of six. She studied privately in Birmingham, then at Leipzig Conservatory under Carl Reinecke and Oscar Paul: she then studied under Clara Schumann at Frankfurt. Her concert career began with the Saturday and Monday popular concerts in 1885; with the Philharmonic concerts 1886; Berlin, 1887; Gewandhaus, Leipzig, 1888; Rome, 1889; Beethoven Festival at Bonn, 1893; Vienna Philharmonic, 1895; Milan, 1895 and 1904; Paris, 1902, 1904 and 1905; Netherlands, 1920 and 1921; Prague, 1920 and 1922; and Spain 1923. She was frequently engaged by the Royal Philharmonic Society, making her last appearance in its Society programme on 15 November 1915 under the baton of Thomas Beecham in Mozart's G major Concerto, K. 453. She had appeared in a Mozart concerto at Beecham's London debut at the Bechstein (Wigmore) Hall on 5 June 1905.
Her work in the large concert works was admired by many for its lyrical projection, warmth and clarity of inner lines and musicianly authority. George Bernard Shaw was not a great admirer, and in 1891 described her as a 'wild young woman'. In May 1892, after a performance of Beethoven's Choral Fantasia, he wrote: 'To those who cannot understand how anybody could touch a note of that melody without emotion, her willing, affable, slap-dash treatment of it was a wonder'. But a year later, at her Crystal Palace performance of the Chopin F minor concerto, he was warming to her, calling it 'the most successful feat of interpretation and execution I have ever heard her achieve'.
Her once-popular late 1920s recording of Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor represents a direct tradition from the composer. Harold C. Schonberg observed, 'behind her neat, controlled, tasteful playing one can see the specter of Clara'. Yet, despite an old recorded sound, the performance is not without its fire and drama...
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