Australian Cello Awards - Kathleen Tuohy


Kathleen Tuohy

Kathleen Tuohy (1914-2002)

Kathleen Tuohy is regarded as one of Australia’s most outstanding cellists of her generation. She raised the profile of the cello as a solo instrument, and overcame prejudice against women in the orchestra. She studied with Pau (Pablo) Casals and brought his influence back to Australia.

Kathy was born in Sydney and attended the Sydney Conservatorium High School. Her parents were musical people who were determined to nurture her talent. Her father was an architect and their large family moved frequently - if a client wanted to buy the house they were living in, they vacated - and the first item to be unloaded into the new house was always the piano - because 'Kathleen has to practise!' Indeed, Kathy got up every day at 4.30am to practise the piano and the cello. Kathy's early teachers included Kate Page, Alfred Hill, Myrtle Meggie and George Elwood.

The family was devastated financially by the depression and of the five children only Kathy was able to continue her education. She graduated from the Sydney Conservatorium with a double diploma (teachers' and performers') in piano (1932) and a double diploma in cello (1933).

In the 1930's Kathy made regular live broadcasts for ABC radio, both as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles including the Sydney Instrumental Trio and the Alfred Hill Quartet. As cellist with the Monomeeth String Quartet she was a founding member of Richard Goldner's Musica Viva.

With the end of the war, it was finally possible for Kathy to travel to Europe to study with the great Catalan cellist, Pau Casals.
In 1948, Kathy and her 4 year old daughter Cecilia journeyed to London where Kathy underwent a rigorous selection process in order to study with Casals. She payed their passage by performing on the ship, and funded her studies by working with the BBC Concert Orchestra and, as in Sydney, she made many live solo broadcasts for BBC Radio. Kathy studied with Casals from 1950-1955, when she returned to Australia. She played as a Principal with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for the next 20 years.

Kathleen Tuohy

(Above, Zurich 1950): An orchestra of cellos made up of Casal's students assembled to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Bach's birth. Casals conducting, Paul Tortelier leading (rear, right of Casals), Kathleen Tuohy immediately behind Casals, standing second from left); on right, same leve is English Cellist Pauline Dunn. Help us identify others in this photo!


(Below, 1965): The MSO was the first Australian symphony orchestra to tour internationally. This photograph was taken during their tour of New Zealand.  Kathleen (on steps) on tour with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Kathleen is at the top of the stairway.

Oboist Jiri Tancibudeck is far left (holding case). Help up identify others in this photo! 

Kathleen Tuohy

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The Monomeeth String Quartet (1943)

Kathleen Tuohy

Program cover
Monday 31st May 1941
Conservatorium Hall Sydney

Phyllis McDonald, Andrew Hoffman, Richard Goldner and Kathleen Tuohy

The Alfred Hill String Quartet (1941)

Kathleen Tuohy

Wireless Weekly, 1941
Norbert Coomer (second violin)
Phyllis McDonald (leader and first violin)
Alfred Hill (viola)
Kathleen Tuohy (cellist)
George White (stand-in first violin)

Kathleen Tuohy

Kathleen Tuohy


Packing up after an MSO rehearsal. Though Kathleen had retired from her full time position, she was still working as a casual well into the 1980's.

Kathleen died in 2002. Kathleen Tuohy played a Carlo Giuseppe Testore-made violoncello circa 1694. She is survived by her granddaughter, Esmeralda Tintner, who is the current custodian of this rare instrument.

Photographs of the Testore violoncello can be found in numerous locations on this website, with the kind permission of Esmeralda Tintner.

Photographs, brochures and press clippings from the private archives of the Tintner family.

The Australian Cello Awards thank the Tintner family for access to this instrument, and their private archives.

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