Natalie Ryshna Maynard, loving mother, devoted friend, acclaimed concert pianist, inspiring educator and champion of the arts died on March 4th at Norwalk Hospital. She will be truly missed by everyone whose lives she touched.
She pursued a lifetime passion for music when she won scholarships to the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and a 7-year fellowship at the Juilliard Graduate School to study piano with Olga Samaroff Stokowski and Sascha Gordnitzki. Studying with Samaroff, a highly experienced and influential teacher, during the time when the career of Samaroff’s protégée, William Kapell, was blossoming, was a tremendous opportunity. Along with Kapell and Alexis Weissenberg, Maynard was considered one of Samaroff’s most accomplished students. Other mentors included Felix Salmond, Vioncent Persichetti and Louis Persinger. Significant influences included hearing Rosalyn Tureck trying a program at the Philadelphia Conservatory; and discovering the thrill of ensemble playing with future “greats” Stanley Drucker, Isadore Cohan and Alexis Weissenberg.
After graduation from Juilliard in 1952, Maynard launched her career with a successful New York debut. She began touring nationally and internationally with Columbia Artists Management in 1953. Her performances earned critical acclaim and several recordings by Contemporary Records in 1958 and 1960 which were among the first records made in stereo. The recordings were later remastered by Jeremy Kipnis son of legendary pianist-harpsichordist Igor Kipnis. Her other recordings at a Bechstein piano were some of the first to be made in discrete quadraphonic sound. Digital recordings of her music can be heard on two CDs and they provide the background music for the 2011 DVD of Olga Samaroff’s life story, American Virtuoso.
Maynard’s many achievements include: winner, Julliard’s First Concerto Competition; semi-finalist, Leventritt and Naumburg Competitions; Steinway Artist appearing in the first edition of Who’s Who of American Women; National Federation of Music Teachers’ Award; Outstanding Women of CT Award, 2003; Town of Westport Arts Advisory Committee Appreciation Award, 2008, and the 2010 Westport Arts Advisory Committee Lifetime Achievement Award in Music. She taught and inspired many outstanding students in her private studio in Westport, CT from 1985-2012. Natalie Ryshna Maynard — In 1953 when she began touring nationally and internationally with Columbia Artists Management.
Maynard held numerous leadership positions including: President of South Shore Music and Performers of CT, Director of the R.B. Fisher Composer Awards, Founder of the Education Committee of the Friends of Channel Thirteen, and Director of the Title III Program for Early Childhood in the NYC Public Schools. She served on the Board or Advisory Board of the National Friends of Public Broadcasting, Friends of Music (CT), Opera New England, the Stamford Symphony, and the Westport Arts Advisory Committee. She was also a member the Music Teachers National Association and Connecticut State Music Teachers Association.
Maynard was born in Pennsylvania on August 21, 1926 to her parents George and Helen Hook. At the time they lived in Gulph Mills and she attended Upper Merion High School. She was predeceased in 2011 by her husband of 51 years, Harry E. Maynard, and is survived by daughter, Melanie Maynard Catalano and her husband, Tony, and daughter, Amie Maynard Oravez, and grandsons, Christopher and Michael Oravez. A memorial is planned on Sunday, April 1st at 4 p.m. The location will be the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road, Westport, CT 06880, Ph. (203) 227-7205. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Natalie Maynard Scholarship Fund, care of Staples Tuition Grants, P.O. Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881-5159.