Violin teacher Mary West "kept it beautiful"


Family, friends and students are remembering one of the Twin Cities' most highly regarded and beloved violin teachers. Mary West died on Sunday at the age of 97 after a 50-year teaching career.

She was emeritus professor of violin at the University of Minnesota and was still teaching at the MacPhail Center for Music when she fell ill earlier this year.

Mary West was born in New Orleans in 1909 and studied at the Juilliard School with her older sister, Virginia. In the 1930s the two advertised themselves as the identical twin Drane Sisters and toured the East Coast. They performed at the White House for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in 1938.

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra violist Evelina Chao taught with Mary West at the Madeline Island Music Camp in Lake Superior. In a conversation with Minnesota Public Radio's Karl Gehrke, Chao remembered her friend and colleague as a teacher who loved and nurtured her students, but held them to the highest standards and inspired them to find their own musical artistry.

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