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Obituary: Viola player and Hampstead Garden Suburb music teacher Kay Hurwitz dies at 94

Kay Hurwitz. Picture: Nigel Sutton Kay Hurwitz. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Thursday, July 24, 2014
2:00 PM

Viola player and Hampstead Garden Suburb teacher Kay Hurwitz, who has died at the age of 94, has been remembered as a “remarkable woman”.

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Mrs Hurwitz lead countless pupils to have distinguished careers in music as the founder of the Youth Music Centre, based at Henrietta Barnett School, in Central Square.

It was for her tireless efforts to encourage and inspire budding young musicians that she was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2007.

Her son Michael Hurwitz, a cellist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: “She was a remarkable woman. She touched many people’s lives and she will be greatly missed by her whole family.”

Born into a musical family in 1920, Mrs Hurwitz joined the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) aged 17 in Hampshire and married a young major in 1942.

However, the marriage was short-lived and left her a penniless single parent to baby Jacqueline.

During her time with the ATS, she was captivated by the violinist Emanuel Hurwitz, who played in the Royal Army Medical Corps Band.

Their paths crossed again at a chance meeting years later in London, and they married and settled in Maida Vale in 1948, with baby Michael born a year later.

They then moved to West Heath Drive in Golders Green, where they lived for many years before upping sticks again to Bridge Lane, Temple Fortune, and finally to Finchley Central.

Her early career was a whirlwind of freelance work with a number of professional orchestras, including the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, the Liverpool Philharmonic, Sadlers Wells Opera in Islington, and the English Chamber Orchestra in Ealing.

But she will be best remembered for her passionate work with children, which began in 1958 when she invited youngsters and their mothers to her house on a Saturday morning “to give them something to do”, according to her friend, Anita Lasker Wallfisch.

As the popularity of her weekend classes spiralled, she had to find larger premises and the Youth Music Centre was born.

Mrs Hurwitz retired as trustee of the centre in the mid-1970s but she remained a familiar face.

On top of her work as a teacher, she was a dedicated fundraiser for the North London Hospice in Finchley, for music scholarships for young players, and for charity music event Music Aid.

Ms Lasker Wallfisch, a Holocaust survivor who lodged with Mrs Hurwitz and her husband, remembered: “She left an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing her, and they will miss her very much.”

Kay Hurwitz, who died on July 2, is survived by her children, Michael Hurwitz and Jacqueline Mina, grandchildren, Alexander Hurwitx, Raphael Hurwitz and Miraphora Mina, and her great grandson Luca Caruso.

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