Katherine Bacon was born in Chesterfield, England on June 2, 1896. Soon after taking a few piano lessons with a family friend at the age of four, she was encouraged to begin regular lessons with a local piano teacher. At age nine she began serious study in piano and harmony with a local professor.
When Bacon was eleven, she was taken to a concert of the young English pianist, Arthur Newstead. After the concert she played for him on the concert hall stage, and he praised her talent and musical promise. Shortly thereafter, she began studying with Mr. Newstead, traveling 600 miles a week to London for two weekly lessons.
In 1913, Newstead was appointed to the Faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, and his young prodigy was not long in following. While at Peabody, Bacon attracted considerable attention by playing a series of five different recital programs in the span of one month. On May 29, 1916, three days following graduation and the completion of her degree at Peabody, Bacon and Newstead were married in Annapolis, Maryland.
The following year, Bacon had a daughter Joan and shortly thereafter Newstead accepted a teaching position at the Institute of Musical Art (now the Juilliard School) in New York City. For a period of one or two years he commuted back and forth from Baltimore to New York, but eventually the family settled in New York.
After her New York debut on November 19, 1920, Bacon was regarded as one of the outstanding young pianists of her day. In addition to numerous solo recitals, she appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony, to name a few, as well as with fine chamber music players.
Outstanding achievements in her career include a 1927 performance of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in a series of seven weekly recitals at Aeolian Hall in New York in commemoration of the Beethoven Centenary. The following year, marking the centenary Franz Schubert, she gave a series of four concerts in which she performed all his important piano works. In 1939-40, Bacon repeated the Beethoven cycle at Town Hall in New York as well as at the Juilliard Summer School.
In 1955 Bacon temporarily directed the Piano Department of the Chautauqua School of Music in Chautauqua, New York. In addition to a full teaching schedule, her responsibilities included two weekly master classes, 13 different recital programs, and an appearance with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
From 1930 to 1968 Bacon lectured and performed at universities and colleges throughout the United States as part of the Association of American Colleges Arts Program. In the fall of 1966, a far Eastern tour took her to Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong for concerts, radio and television broadcasts, and lecture recitals.
Bacon taught piano at the Mannes College of Music in New York from 1921 to 1929 and served on the faculty of the Juilliard School from 1940 until her retirement in 1972. In addition, she participated in the Juilliard Summer School program for its 21 years of operation from 1932 to 1952.
On January 30, 1982, Bacon died in a New York nursing home at the age of 85.
SERIES I - PERFORMANCE FILES
Here are found programs, reviews, and promotional fliers related to specific performances by Katherine Bacon. The files are organized chronologically by performance date and span the period April 2, 1913 through November 6, 1972. This series is located in Box 1 and Box 2.
SERIES II - CORRESPONDENCE FILES
This series comprises 19 letters that are divided into the following categories:
- Letters to Katherine Bacon from her students
- Letters from Arthur Newstead
- Condolence letters to Joan Newstead at KB's death
- Miscellaneous letters
This series is located in Box 3.
SERIES III - PHOTOGRAPHS
Here are found 61 photographs. The reference number that appears on each photograph gives an approximate date. This series is located in Box 3 and is divided into 10 categories:
1. KB Formal Portraits
2. KB Childhood Photos
3. KB Snapshots
4. KB with Arthur Newstead
5. KB with Joan Newstead
6. KB with Colleagues
7. KB with Students
8. Students of KB
9. Trip to the Orient, 1966
10. Miscellaneous Photographs
SERIES IV - RECORDINGS
Here are found recordings of four performances dated July 12, 1951, July 7, 1952, July 1955, and February 4, 1955. Acetate discs, reel-to-reel tapes, and cassette tape recordings can be found in this file which is located in Box 4.
SERIES V - SUBJECT FILES
This series, located in Box 3, contains various documents relating to Katherine Bacon's personal and professional life, divided into the following categories:
File 1 - Publicity Fliers
File 2 - Biographical Articles
File 3 - Memorials and Obituaries
File 4 - Legal Documents
File 5 - KB's Own Words
File 6 - 1967 Peabody Distinction Award
File 7 - KB as Guest Speaker
File 8 - KB as Jurist
File 9 - KB as Music Guild Member