The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder inducted Australian pianist, Eileen Joyce, into the Walk of Fame to cap the weekend of 125 years celebrations.
Since its inception in 2011 the Walk of Fame has inducted 15 individuals past and present who have contributed significantly and positively to the area now known as the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
Eileen Joyce rose from povertystricken obscurity to become one of this century’s most famous concert stars.
She was one of the four children of Irish immigrants, Joseph and Alice Joyce. Spending most of her childhood in Boulder, Western Australia, where her father worked as a miner.
The family lived opposite a miners’ saloon run by a relative and it was there that Eileen first began experimenting at the keyboard, tinkering on a battered old piano in the bar. Her love of music was encouraged by nuns at the local convent school and when she was about 10 they recommended that she be sent to develop her talents at a larger convent in Perth.
When Percy Grainger was invited to the convent to hear her play, he pronounced her “the most transcendentally gifted child” he had ever met.
Another visitor, the touring German pianist Wilhelm Backhaus, insisted that she be sent to further her studies in Leipzig. The miners of Boulder passed the hat around to help her parents pay her fare and expenses.
Years later, during an interview, she recalled her long, lonely sea voyage to Europe, and her arrival in Leipzig in the 1920s, “a homesick waif and stray without warm knickers”. The reception party, she said, “was disappointed to find she was not an Aborigine.”
Eileen Joyce became one of the most celebrated pianists in the world.