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Puddy, Maude Mary (1883–1974)

by Alison Holder

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Maude Mary Puddy (1883-1974), musician, was born on 27 March 1883 at Brompton, Adelaide, third daughter of English parents Albert Puddy, fitter and turner, journalist and music teacher, and his wife Jane, née Coombe. Albert, a Methodist, was a self-taught musician who gave Maude her first piano lessons. She attended the Advanced School for Girls in 1896-1900. First playing in public when only 9, she gave a highly praised recital at 11. In 1895 she became a pupil of E. G. Reimann at the Adelaide College of Music. When this merged with the new Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide three years later, Maude Puddy continued studying with Reimann, and later with Bryceson Treharne with whom her 'deep feeling for musical literature really began'. She won scholarships and prizes for piano, composition, and accompanying, in 1900 was the first to gain the diploma, associate in music, and graduated Mus. Bac. in 1905.

That year Miss Puddy went overseas with her sister Rosa, her companion during fourteen years abroad. She was a pupil in London of F. B. Busoni and in Vienna Theodor Leschetizky, 'that prince of pianoforte'. After a successful début in the Bösendorfer Salle—Maude gave concerts in Vienna and Berlin—she became one of his student teachers. Leschetizky dedicated his Valse Prelude (op. 49, no 2) to her, and attested in 1909 that 'her notable talent … has helped her … not only to perform as a distinguished public piano player, but also to teach with an unusual measure of success'. Fellow students included the famous pianists Ignaz Friedman, Benno Moiseiwitsch, Wilhelm Backhaus and Artur Schnabel.

In 1913 Miss Puddy went to London; she spent World War I in England, teaching and giving concerts for the troops and fund-raising recitals for the British Red Cross Society. 'It was really beautiful to play to the wounded and convalescent men', she said. She returned to Adelaide in 1920 to teach piano at the Elder Conservatorium. She was overseas in 1929 and retired in 1949. She played on radio and with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and her prowess and popularity as soloist, and particularly as a player of chamber music in Adelaide and interstate, drew enthusiastic reviews. Her work has been perpetuated by her students who have taught all over Australia. She edited two books for piano by Professor E. H. Davies: The Children's Bach (1933) and Bach: 18 Short Works.

Serene and reflective in appearance, with large dark eyes, Miss Puddy wore her hair drawn over her ears to a plaited bun at the neck when other women embraced curly bobs. Her modulated accent retained a hint of German; she was graceful and charming both on and off the platform. All her work displayed her innate musicianship and beauty of tone.

She celebrated her ninetieth birthday at home in North Adelaide, surrounded by former colleagues, students and friends, and commented: 'My whole life has been one of music … when I dream I always dream about music'. She died on 1 August 1974 and was buried in Dudley Park cemetery, having left considerable bequests to Methodist institutions and for medical research.

Select Bibliography

  • Quiz (Adelaide), 15 Dec 1898, 29 Nov 1900
  • Critic (Adelaide), 15 Mar, 15 Nov 1905
  • South Australia Homes and Gardens, May 1932, Aug 1949
  • Woman's World, Mar 1929
  • Observer (Adelaide), 10, 24 Jan 1920
  • Bulletin, 17 Aug 1922
  • Chronicle (Adelaide), 3 Sept 1931
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 28 May 1949, 26 Dec 1953, 28 Mar 1973, 2 Aug 1974
  • M. M. Puddy papers (State Library of South Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Alison Holder, 'Puddy, Maude Mary (1883–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/puddy-maude-mary-8128/text14199, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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