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Helen Hopekirk

1856 - 1945

Pianist, piano teacher and composer. Born in Portobello, the daughter of a bookseller and piano retailer, Hopekirk attended the Edinburgh Institution for the Education of Young Ladies. She trained in the piano from a young age and continued this training at the Leipzig Conservatorium in 1876. Having gained a reputation in Leipzig and London, she toured the UK in 1880-81 and then the USA 1883-86 and 1891-92.

When her husband was badly injured in a traffic accident in London in 1897, Hopekirk realised she needed to secure a regular income and took a senior position in the New England Conservatory. She found herself in demand as a soloist in the USA and Canada, appearing with several notable orchestras. She is also known as a composer, her pieces often incorporating Scottish folk melodies.

She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is buried in the Mount Auburn Cemetery. In 2006, a plaque in her honour was unveiled outside her birthplace at 148 Portobello High Street.

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