Marion Stein

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Marion Stein
Born Maria Donata Nanetta Paulina Gustava Erwina Wilhelmine Stein
18 October 1926
Vienna, Austria
Died 6 March 2014(2014-03-06) (aged 87)
North Devon, United Kingdom
Other names Marion Harewood
Marion Thorpe
Occupation Concert pianist
Spouse(s) George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood
(m. 1949; div. 1967)

Jeremy Thorpe
(m. 1973–2014; her death)
Children David Lascelles, 8th Earl of Harewood
James Lascelles
Jeremy Lascelles
Parent(s) Erwin Stein
Sophie Bachmann

Maria Stein, CBE (Maria Donata Nanetta Paulina Gustava Erwina Wilhelmine; 18 October 1926 – 6 March 2014), known as Marion Stein, and subsequently by marriage as Marion Lascelles, Countess of Harewood, and later Marion Thorpe, was an Austrian-born British concert pianist.[1]


Born in Vienna, Stein was of Jewish heritage, the daughter of Sophie Bachmann and musician Erwin Stein. She came to the UK just before the Second World War.[2][3] She attended the Royal College of Music and became good friends with composer Benjamin Britten. By 1949, as Countess of Harewood, and with the patronage of her mother-in-law, Princess Mary, Stein was chatelaine of the magnificent Palladian Harewood House, north of Leeds, and threw herself into organising events.

In March 1950, she created an opera-inspired fancy dress ball in aid of Britten's English Opera Group, featuring Frederick Ashton and Moira Shearer dancing the tango from the ballet Façade.[4][5] In September 1950, she was reported as being pregnant and "planning to attend every night" of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival which featured a performance by Britten.[6][7] She was the joint founder in 1961 (along with Fanny Waterman) of the Leeds International Piano Competition.[8] She also collaborated with Fanny Waterman on Piano Lessons, a successful piano tutor.

In 1973, she was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs[9] and she was an occasional panellist on the BBC music quiz Face the Music.

Personal life[edit]

Stein married twice, on both occasions to prominent public figures.

Her first husband was George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood,[2] whom she married on 29 September 1949. The couple met at the Aldeburgh Festival. Lord Harewood, son of Mary, Princess Royal, was the grandson of King George V, the nephew of kings Edward VIII and George VI, and the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. As a result of this marriage, Marion gained the title Countess of Harewood. They had three sons:

By 1959, there were serious problems in the marriage.[10] Harewood began a relationship with violinist Patricia Tuckwell, but Stein rejected the idea of divorce until 1967, by which time he had a son by Tuckwell. His adultery and remarriage made him a social outcast for several years, and it was ten years before he was invited to any events by the Royal Family.

Stein married her second husband, Jeremy Thorpe, in 1973. Thorpe was then a Member of Parliament and Leader of the Liberal Party. His first wife, Caroline, had been killed in a car accident in 1970. Stein stood by Thorpe throughout the "Rinkagate" scandal of the late 1970s.[11] In the mid-80s, Thorpe was diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson's disease,[12] and Marion also had mobility problems.

Marion Thorpe died on 6 March 2014 at the age of 87.[1]


  1. ^ a b John Amis (2014-03-07). "Marion Thorpe obituary | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b Reed, Philip; Cooke, Mervyn (2010). Letters from a Life: the Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten, 1913–1976; Vol 5. Boydell Press. p. xlv. ISBN 1-84383-591-6. 
  3. ^ Obituary: The Earl of Harewood. The Telegraph, 11 July 2011. Accessed 16 February 2013
  4. ^ "Marion Thorpe - Obituary". UK Daily telegraph - March 7, 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Peter, NDJ (9 March 2014), "Marion Thorpe, wife of former North Devon MP and Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, dies at age 87", North Devon Journal (Barnstaple), archived from the original on 2014-03-09 [1]
  6. ^ "Hoping for a Boy". Barrier Miner, Broken Hill. 6 September 1950. Retrieved 20 September 2015 – via Trove. ...the Countess plans to attend every night of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival... 
  7. ^ "Discovering Leeds". Leeds City Council UK Gov. Retrieved 23 September 2015. Britten had been taking the final rehearsals of his Spring Symphony which he was due to conduct at the 1950 Triennial Festival... 
  8. ^ Cummings, David (2000). International Who's Who in Music: and Musicians' Directory Vol. 1. Routledge. p. 640. ISBN 0-948875-53-4. 
  9. ^ BBC - Desert Island Discs, BBC Radio 4, 29 December 1973.
  10. ^ Royal Musings: "Adultery, a child, divorce, remarriage = estrangement from the Royal Family ", 12 July 2011. Accessed 16 February 2013
  11. ^ "The downfall of Jeremy Thorpe", Express, 8 May 2009. Accessed 16 February 2013.
  12. ^ "Jeremy Thorpe - Former Liberal Party Leader in the UK", BBC News.

External links[edit]