Maria Fisher

In 1993, in Washington, D.C., the doors will open to the world's first conservatory of music devoted exclusively to jazz. This is Maria Fisher's Living Legacy.

Maria Fisher had a long and illustrious career as a film actress. In the 1930's and 40's she appeared in over 60 films, with such stars as Gloria Swanson and Leslie Howard. Mrs. Fisher also enjoyed a successful singing career as a leading soprano with the London Opera Company, as well as with the Columbia Opera Company in Washington, D.C. She hosted and performed on a classical radio program in D.C. It was on this program that she became known as Mamie Eisenhower's favorite singer.

Her devotion to opera and all music, led Maria Fisher in 1963 to founding the American Opera School. She developed educational programs and provided scholarships for young opera singers. In 1974, she founded the Beethoven Society of America. Through this society, she offered major concerts at nominal or no charge to the public. She held annual piano competitions for 12 to 18 year old artists, which resulted in scholarships for the winners to pursue their musical dreams.

Being a devotee and patron of classical music all her life, Mrs. Fisher, IN 1986, publicly announced and acted upon her firm belief, "Jazz is America's classical music". That was the founding of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. Never the quiet one, Mrs. Fisher opened the Institute with a gala, attended by such talents as Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Cosby, Clint Eastwood, Quincy Jones, Dolly Parton and Steve Allen were among many convince the classical society of her belief.

Maria Fisher was so looking forward to taking her first cross country train trip to be with us at the 1992 Awards. Unfortunately, she died last year.

Women's International Center want to honor posthumously the musical contributions left to thousands by Maria Fisher. In her honor, we present the Living Legacy Award to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where the Award will lovingly remain.

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