Early life and training
Born Émilie-Camille Urso in Nantes, France, 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). She was the first female student at the Conservatory to win a prize on violin.
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." 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." 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.
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, 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 and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery.
- Encyclopædia Britannica article on Camilla Urso
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Lawrence, Vera Brodsky (1995). Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong. Volume II. Reverberations, 1850–1856. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226470115.
- Pierre, Constant, editor (1900). Le Conservatoire national de musique et de déclamation. Documents historiques et administratifs. Paris: Imprimerie National. 1031 pages. View at Internet Archive.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Camille Urso.|
- "Urso, Camilla" in The New International Encyclopaedia New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1905. View at the Internet Archive.
- Turgeon, J. O. (1865). Biographie de Camille Urso. Montreal: Plinguet & LaPlante. View at the Internet Archive.
- Camilla Urso Collection at the Library of the University of South Carolina