Healy, Gertrude (1894–1984)
Nationally and internationally recognized violinist, teacher and composer
Ballarat born Gertrude was educated locally at Sacred Heart College where she demonstrated prodigious gifts as a violinist, competing against (Sir) Bernard Heinze at Royal South Street and claiming first prize in 1907 at the First Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work.
She studied cello and violin on a scholarship to the Albert Street Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne and made her Melbourne Town Hall début in 1908. A critic noted that she was`easily first’ among `all the violinists who have come forward in recent years’: her tone was `pure and rich’, and her intonation `almost beyond reproach’. In February 1914 Gertrude left Australia to study with Siegfried Eberhardt in Berlin until the outbreak of war, and then on to London undertaking patriotic work by playing in hospitals and for charities.
In 1920, she returned to Melbourne and took up teaching at Albert Street while introducing Australian and Melbourne audiences to the works of Bax, Bloch, Delius, and Elgar. The often provocative modernity of her programs also included Franck, Stravinsky and Hindemith. As a soloist, and in ensembles, she gained national and international recognition – both appearing on many concert stages, and performing for the Australian Musical News Chamber Music Club, the British Music Society, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
In 1948, Gertrude entered the Convent of Mercy in Ballarat where she taught music at Sacred Heart and was reunited with her sister Eileen (Mother Bonaventure) who was a noted educator and builder of many schools throughout the state. In 1950, Gertrude established the college’s annual Music for Strings concerts, and continued to introduce new works, including those of Britten and her own compositions. Gertrude died on 6 October 1984 at Ballarat.
(Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography)