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<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    DAME MOURA LYMPANY


'You talk to much, work too hard, play too hard!' -- Moura was advised by a throat specialist to seek out a warmer climate and stop talking for a month. As if directed by God, came an advertisement in the Sunday Times to visit Rasiguères in the Roussillon region of the Pyrénées, Southern France. 'Rent our village home while you look around for somewhere to buy', acted like a catalyst. Initial trials, many discussions, the stimulating exploration of new pleasures and excitements, resulted in several fresh plantings in a garden created by her at La Bergerie -- the first of two houses she occupied -- and there was the problem of transporting a baby grand.

Being surrounded by different, delightful residents, however, eventually suggested the necessity to really work hard once again. She moved to bigger property -- a beautiful villa purchased from Peter Andry, then EMI's Chairman, and his wife Christine, and talked Harrods into stocking the local wines. The villagers entitled one Cuvée Moura Lympany. Watching the colour film on British television, I marvelled how speedily and successfully one woman could form a Festival of Music and Wine to feature some of the world's finest performers, along with young artists of repute like the Manchester Camerata. I must own up to shedding tears over Moura's playing of Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu.

In 1982 back in London, alarm bells rang once more. Moura went into King Edward VII Hospital for a second operation. Moving from Bruton Place to a flat in Lowndes Square, a 10th Anniversary party was held to celebrate her arrival in Rasiguères, but when told she was spending more than she was earning she tried to find alternative accommodation. Then a friend suggested renting a flat in Monte Carlo, where she has lived ever since. Prince Louis de Polignac, cousin of Prince Rainier consulted her about another Festival. Suitably restored, seven little chapels in the village in Brittany became known as Le Festival des Sept Chappelles.

In 1989, she celebrated her sixtieth jubilee as a concert pianist with an all-Chopin recital at the Royal Festival Hall. The reviews were ecstatic. The following year she played four times at Rasiguères' week-long festival. Other auspicious events followed, and then, what had been alluded to in the French newspapers became a reality -- she became Dame Moura Lympany.

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Copyright © 5 June 2001 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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