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Wigmore, Alice Ivy (1895–1982)

by G. C. Bolton and Andrew Morant

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Alice Ivy Wigmore (1895-1982), violinist and philanthropist, was born on 9 January 1895 at Mildura, Victoria, only child of South Australian-born Herbert John Wigmore, businessman, and his Victorian-born wife Alice Elizabeth, née Wallis. The Wigmores moved to Fremantle, Western Australia, in 1897, where Herbert established himself as a general merchant and later diversified into importing, manufacturing agricultural machinery and running a shipping agency. Ivy attended a small private school at Fremantle. When she was 8 her parents bought a house, Rio-Tinto, at Peppermint Grove; she had further schooling at Cottesloe High School, known as Miss Annie’s, run by Scottish sisters Annie and Jane Nisbet. Ivy showed early musical talent under the guidance of her mother, an accomplished pianist.

Aged 10, Ivy began piano and violin lessons with other teachers. In 1907, as a violinist, she won one of three two-year exhibitions granted to students from Australasia to study in London. Accompanied by her mother she enrolled in May 1908 at the Royal College of Music. She studied violin under Achille Rivarde, as well as piano, harmony and counterpoint. Her exhibition was extended for two years and she then won an open scholarship for a further three years. A hard-working, confident student, she persuaded (Sir) Hubert Parry, the director, to allow her to add voice to her repertoire. She played in college symphony concerts conducted by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford and in chamber music ensembles alongside (Sir) Eugene Goossens and (Sir) Bernard Heinze, and took part in opera productions.

After passing her final examinations in violin and public performance, Wigmore was unable to have a formal musical début due to the outbreak of World War I and was recalled to Western Australia by her father in early 1915. She returned via India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), joining a concert party which toured India for three months; while visiting friends in Ceylon she met 35-year-old Walter Edward Moncrieff Paterson, a managing director of the East India Co. They married on 26 April 1916 at St George’s Church of England Cathedral, Perth. To her father’s disappointment, she abandoned her musical career to live with her husband, first in Ceylon and from 1920 among the minor Scottish gentry in Aberdeenshire.

A handsome and forceful woman, Wigmore played an active role in the local prisoner-of-war fund-raising group during World War II. She was appointed a dame of grace of the Order of St John. Her husband died in 1955. On 23 May 1956 at the Jesuit Church of the Sacred Heart, Edinburgh, she married Major Malcolm Vivian Hay of Seaton (d.1962), a historian and Zionist, whose views she shared. She wrote three books: Under the Eiderdown (1961); There was a Man of Genius (1963), about her son-in-law, Major General Orde Wingate; and Valiant for Truth (1971), a biography of her second husband.

In 1961 Wigmore was introduced to (Sir) Frank Callaway, foundation professor of music at the University of Western Australia. She offered him £150 to purchase music. Further gifts followed: £5000 to establish the Wigmore Music Library in honour of her mother, founded in 1966 and housed in a purpose-built building in 1976, as well as a bequest of nearly £30,000. She also presented several musical instruments to UWA. At the RCM she endowed the Ivy Wigmore-Hay award for performers. The University of Aberdeen received a bequest ‘to be used exclusively to promote a greater understanding and knowledge of the history and culture of the Jewish people, and to combat anti-Semitism’; the annual Malcolm Hay Memorial Lecture recognises her husband’s dedicated advocacy of this cause. Survived by her daughter, Lorna Wingate, née Patterson, she died on 21 August 1982 at Aberdeen and was buried in the Hay family vault in the churchyard of St Machar’s Cathedral.

Select Bibliography

  • Western Mail, 13 June 1908, p 34, 7 Jan 1911, p 34, 6 Jan 1912, p 33, 11 Apr 1913, p 25

  • West Australian, 6 Jan 1912, p 33
  • Uniview (University of Western Australia), Feb 1999, p 26
  • University of Western Australia archives (UWA archives old general file 2191)
  • Alice Ivy Hay papers (manuscript, 3079/1-7, University Aberdeen Library
  • Australian Joint Copying Project Microfilm 2398)
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

G. C. Bolton and Andrew Morant, 'Wigmore, Alice Ivy (1895–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wigmore-alice-ivy-15800/text26999, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 19 August 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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