Helen Hopekirk (20 May 1856 – 19 November 1945) was a Scottish pianist and composer who lived and worked in Boston.
Commemorative blue plaque in Edinburgh
Helen Hopekirk was born in Portobello, Edinburgh in Scotland, a daughter of music shop owners Adam and Helen (née Croall) Hopekirk. She studied music with George Lichtenstein and Scottish composer Alexander Mackenzie, and made her debut as a soloist in 1874 with the Edinburgh Amateur Orchestral Society. After other successful performances and the death of her father, she relocated to study composition with Carl Reinecke in Leipzig. After successful debuts in Leipzig and London, she began regular concert tours of Europe.
In 1882 Hopekirk married Edinburgh merchant and music critic William A. Wilson (d. 1926), who began serving as her manager. She made her American debut in 1883 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and commenced concert tours in the United States. She planned to continue her studies with Franz Liszt, but after his death studied instead with Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna and Czech composer Karel Navrátil in Prague. She and her husband lived in Vienna until 1892, and then moved to Paris, where she began to teach piano. Her students included Anna Diller Starbuck and Elna Sherman.
Her husband was injured in a traffic accident, and in 1897 she accepted the invitation of Director George Chadwick to take a teaching position at the New England Conservatory. In 1901 she left the Conservatory and became a private teacher, also continuing her performance career. Hopekirk and her husband became American citizens in 1918. Her last performance was at Steinert Hall, Boston, in 1939. She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, of a cerebral thrombosis and was buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery.
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