Today: McKeldin CLOSED

The Ethel Leginska Collection

Photograph of pianist Ethel LeginskaEthel Leginska (Ethel Liggins) was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England on April 13th, 1886. Her early performances as a child prodigy garnered attention and lead to her being sponsored to study at the Hoch Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt, Germany. Her subsequent piano studies were with Leschetizky in Vienna. In keeping with other artists of her time who adopted Russian or Polish sounding names to advance their careers, she adopted the name Leginska. After her studies, her concert activities took her throughout Europe, and then to the United States, where she made her New York debut in 1913. Her many recital appearances over the next decade included numerous appearances at Carnegie and Aeolian Halls where she presented an eclectic repertoire. After studies in music theory and composition with Rubin Goldmark and Ernest Bloch, she composed chamber and orchestral works in the 1920s and 1930s that were performed by leading chamber and symphonic ensembles at a time when works by female composers were rarely performed. Her trailblazing career as a conductor began with a debut with the New York Symphony Orchestra in 1925, followed by engagements as a guest conductor with many of the world’s most important orchestras. In addition to her engagements conducting symphonic repertoire, she was the first female conductor to establish a significant career conducting opera. Her career as a teacher began in New York City and continued after she moved to Los Angeles in 1939, where she established an important piano studio. Her students were presented in recital series that encompassed the major works of the piano repertoire, such as the complete Well-Tempered Clavier of Bach, the 32 Beethoven Sonatas, and the complete works of Chopin. Ethel Leginska died in Los Angeles on February 20th, 1970.


The Leginska Collection is a gift of Barbara Hodges Warren and consists of photographs, articles, correspondence, and most significantly, scrapbook materials documenting her career as pianist and conductor. A large amount of scrapbook material also features publicity for Leginska’s pupils.