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   Lily Laskine was born in 1893, of Russian parents who had emigrated to Paris. Her birth, coming after a brother aged three, upset her doctor father who wanted another boy. In his view, girls were of "no value". Lily Laskine's later career was to prove just how wrong he was.

Lily Laskine at three

" My parents were marvellous "

    Her father was a fervent music lover. She would say that he was obsessed with it, in ecstasy when listening to some pieces. Her mother Dora, an admirable pianist, was above all a woman of character with a strong will. She gave up the piano to devote her time to what counted most, in her view: her children, especially Lily.

" Vocations? Rubbish! You need good fingers and a sacrificed childhood.

    Lily was first introduced to the piano, but showed no particular enthusiasm. Her mother suggested another instrument, during a family party: Lily herself described her feelings at this first experiment with the harp asbeing of "amused indifference". But her mother said "the harp is the music of the angels", and so she became a harpist. A lively, joyful child, she had to practise her instrument 6 hours a day, although her one wish was to go to school with other children. She would have paid dearly to escape from this solitude, she who so much enjoyed the company of the other children. But her mother encouraged, pushed, stimulated her. Ever curious, she would do her scales and preparation exercises while secretly reading books by Hugo, Dumas and Zola hidden behind the music stand.

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