Marian McPartland Biography

Margaret Marian Turner, 20 March 1920, Slough, Berkshire, England. Prior to World War II, McPartland played British music halls as a member of a four-piano group led by Billy Mayerl. While touring with ENSA (the British equivalent of America’s USO), she met and married Jimmy McPartland. At the end of the war she went to the USA with her husband, quickly establishing a reputation in her own right. During the late 40s and throughout the following decade, she worked steadily, usually leading a trio, holding down several long residencies, notably an eight-year spell at the Hickory House. During the 60s and 70s she developed a long-lasting interest in education, established her own recording company, Halcyon Records, performed extensively in clubs and at festivals and also began parallel careers as a writer and broadcaster on jazz. A very gifted pianist, rhythmically near-perfect and with a seemingly endless capacity for intelligent improvising, her long-running radio show, Piano Jazz, has helped to establish her as one of the best-known jazz artists in America.

Although divorced from her husband Jimmy, she made occasional concert appearances with him. McPartland has also worked successfully in duos with Joe Venuti, and with fellow pianists Teddy Wilson and George Shearing. In addition to her other many activities, she has also made a successful crossover into classical music, performing such works as the Grieg Piano Concerto, George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, and a series of popular songs arranged for piano and orchestra by Robert Farnon. Although relatively little known in the country of her birth, McPartland continues to prove herself to be one of the outstanding pianists in jazz. A collection of her articles on jazz, All In Good Time, was published in 1987.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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