- 1 January 1908
Zeehan, Tasmania, Australia
- 25 March 1991
- Concert Pianist
Eileen Joyce was taught the piano at St Joseph's Convent at Boulder where her prodigious talent was first recognised. She went on to establish a career in England where her concert performances in glamorous gowns, and studio recordings, would make her one of the most popular pianists of her time.
The Joyce family moved to Western Australia and settled in Boulder where Eileen had her first music lessons at St Joseph's Convent. Because of her prodigious talent, a fund-raising committee in Kalgoorlie-Boulder assisted her to take up a scholarship at the Loreto Convent in Perth.
Hearing her play the renowned musicians Percy Grainger and Wilhelm Backhaus recommended she should study abroad. In 1926, after a tour of country towns and a farewell concert at His Majesty's Theatre in Perth, Eileen went to Leipzig in Germany, then London to study and where her stellar career was launched.
In 1933 she made the first of many studio recordings in London. She was so successful her record sales during the 1940s are reputed to have rivalled those of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, amongst others. She returned to Australia in April 1936 for a national tour and a series of concerts for the ABC. On the Easter Saturday she gave a recital at the Kalgoorlie Town Hall, and the following day played for the nuns at St Joseph's.
During the war Eileen played for the troops, and in the bombed out cities of England with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, all helping to endear her to the people. Eileen always dressed the part of the glamorous concert pianist. She commissioned her gowns from leading fashion designers, the most famous being Norman Hartnell who designed the coronation gown for Queen Elizabeth II.
In later life Eileen was awarded many honours for her contribution to music, receiving an Honorary Doctor of Music from the Universities of Cambridge (1971), University of Western Australia (1979), and the University of Melbourne (1982). In 1981 she was made a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and Saint George at Buckingham Palace.