Kitty Gregorson MBE

1903 – 2004

Cellist Teacher

Eleanor B K Gregorson was born on July 9th 1903 in her grandmother's house at Wardie near Granton. She grew up in Colinton, which was her home for the first eighteen years of her life, though during the First World War she was evacuated with her parents to the Borders. Her mother was a very accomplished amateur pianist so she was surrounded by the sound of music from a very early age. She started to have cello lessons, aged 8, from Ruth Waddell, but as far as schooling was concerned, didn't actually go to a school till she was fourteen, and then only for two years ( to St George's School for Girls ). 

After leaving St George's School, and spending three years in Edinburgh getting work in the Reid Orchestra (conducted by Sir Donald Tovey ), she had made sufficient progress to become a student of Ivor James, one of the leading teachers of his day, at The Royal College of Music in London. The time she spent there, Kitty described as, without doubt, the happiest three and a half years of her life. She came into contact with many of the great names of the day, including Vaughan Williams, Constant Lambert, Herbert Howells, and Frank Bridge who accompanied her on the piano. But her student days, and, inevitably, her promising career, were cut short when her mother became terminally ill and Kitty had to return to Edinburgh to look after her father and younger sister.

Blessed with a strong constitution and an apparently inexhaustible fund of energy, she began getting work as a free-lance cellist in Scotland, again with the Reid Orchestra and as an extra with the BBC Scottish Orchestra, amongst others. But before long she threw herself into her life's work of teaching the cello. And so it was from that time, that Kitty gave her life to caring for people in one way or another. To everybody who came into contact with her, she gave her complete attention.  

She also imparted a real sense of goals to aim for, based on her own sound judgement and experience. She had been lucky to have had the first-hand experience of hearing Casals and all the other international stars ( Fritz and Adolf Busch, Jelly D'Aramnyi, Adela Fachiri, Suggia etc ) that Tovey brought to play in Edinburgh in those inter-war years when they were at the height of their careers, and those performances left a strong impression on her. Above all, Kitty loved music and wanted to share her discovery with her pupils. That is the legacy which she has left.

On one occasion, she went out and spent several hundreds of pounds on strings and decent cello end-pins, so that the cellos in the Waddell School (where she first started to assist her teacher Ruth Waddell) would sound better. Ruth remarked on how much better all the children were playing, but never knew why. She had no time for empty musicianship, music had to convey something important, something meaningful. Her philosophy was a simple one of faith in life and the kindness and goodness of people, qualities which shone out of her.

Kitty passed away in 2004 at the incredible age of 101.


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