Camilla Urso

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Camilla Urso

Camilla Urso (13 June 1840[1] – 20 January 1902) was an American violinist born in France.[2]

Early life and training[edit]

Born Émilie-Camille Urso in Nantes, France,[1] she was the daughter of an Italian flutist (Salvator Urso) and a French singer (Émilie Gérouard). When she was six years old, despite general skepticism about her ability to master a “masculine” instrument, she began taking violin lessons. The success of her first public recital a year later convinced her parents of her talent, and the family moved to Paris, where Urso studied with Lambert Massart at the Paris Conservatory. In 1852 in the annual student competition she won third place certificates of merit in solfège and violin (Viotti's Violin Concerto No. 24).[3] She was the first female student at the Conservatory to win a prize on violin.[4]


In the autumn of 1852 she appeared in New York City with her own company of assisting artists, including her father on flute. Reporting on her appearance at a private soirée, the Evening Post (27 September 1852) wrote: "She handles the violin with as much freedom and ease as a Spanish lady does her fan."[5] The Mirror (1 October 1852), reviewing her debut at Metropolitan Hall on 30 September, reported: "Her appearance was singularly prepossessing, her pose firm, correct, yet easy, and her little arm guided the bow with grace and precision. She breathed into the instrument a mellowness, an expression, a purity of sound truly remarkable. Even in the fortissimo parts she appeared to have the requisite strength, and the richness and fullness of her notes contrasted strangely with the delicate diminutiveness of this little mistress of the violin."[5] Urso was accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Theodore Eisfeld, and the program included the Viotti concerto, Bériot's Air varié, and Alexandre Artôt's Souvenirs de Bellini.[5]

Boston concerts, 1863

Urso later appeared in Boston, Philadelphia, and other American cities. She was exceedingly successful, especially in concerts with Alboni and Sontag.

In 1855 she and her parents established a residence in Nashville, Tennessee.[2]

Urso played with the Philharmonic Society in Boston in 1863, and later that same year in New York with the New York Philharmonic. In 1863–1864 she toured New England with the Patrick S. Gilmore band and in 1864–1865 went on tour in Canada. In June 1865 she appeared to great acclaim in Paris. For the next thirty years she toured the United States and abroad,[2] including Australia and South Africa. She stopped performing in 1895 and lived in New York, where she taught privately and at the National Conservatory of Music. She died in New York[2] and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery.



  1. ^ a b Pierre 1900, p. 862. Other sources give her year of birth as 1842.
  2. ^ a b c d Encyclopedia Britannica online.
  3. ^ Pierre 1900, pp. 607 and 862.
  4. ^ Le Ménestrel (2 August 1903), p. 243.
  5. ^ a b c Lawrence 1995, p. 295.


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