PhotoExhibit 5

Ruby Rich-Schalit
(23/6/1888 - 10/5/1988)

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Pianist, Feminist and Patron of the Arts

Ruby Rich, once pronounced in her youth (when she was 23) by musical critics as the most accomplished pianist that ever visited the Commonwealth (San Francisco Post August 1911), was born in Walgett, in 1888, the fourth of six children. Ever a diminuitive figure, she had a clear ringing voice, even in her nineties. She died one month before her one hundreth birthday. An active campaigner for the rights of women, she was one of the founders of the New South Wales Council of Action for Equal Pay, which was established in 1937.

Ruby's first interest in life was music. A talented performer, she gave her first concert performance on the piano in 1899, at the age of eleven at the Sydney Town Hall.

Although she had wanted to play professionally, her father, who owned a considerable fortune, had refused. However, he permitted her to study music under the best teachers in Sydney and abroad. In Sydney she studied under Joseph Kretchman and furthered her studies in Berlin with Artur Schnabel and in Paris under Raoul Pugno.

During the First World War, she was a volunteer nurse. After a number of years attending suffragette meetings in London, she returned to Sydney and joined the International Alliance of Women. Papers pertaining to these activities are kept in the National Library, Canberra and at some other locations.

Ruby played an active role in the Jewish community, and attended many overseas conferences. Her husband, Dr Maurice Schalit, whom she married when she was in her fifties, died in 1961. He founded the Friends of the Hebrew University in Australia. In 1971 a scholarship for students to study at the Hebrew University of in Jerusalem was launched in Mrs Rich-Schalit’s name. She was also a founder of the Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the first federal President of W.I.Z.O (Women’s International Zionist Organisation). She was awarded an MBE for her work for the advancement of women in culture, the Anzac Memorial Peace Prize and the Torch of Learning by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

< Ruby Rich's mother, Aida Rich and her four sons: L-R. Reuzie and Vivian (standing), Harold and Carrick (seated)
Ruby Rich as a volunteer nurse at St John's Gate during World War 1.
Ruby Rich at the Dolder Hotel, Zurich, where she and her sister Vera lived for some time after World War 1.
Ruby Rich in a lively mood in Los Angeles in 1911, riding an ostrich, the same year in which she was lauded as the most accomplished visiting pianist from the Commonwealth.
Ruby Rich lived in the Astor Apartments in Macquarie Street, near the Botanic Gardens, in the 1920s, close to the Conservatorium of Music.

The thirteen storey Astor Apartment was built in 1914 by John O'Brien. The roof top garden, which still exists, included a glasshouse, fernery and a dance floor and commands a magnificent view. The room depicted can still be visited.

The photo is one of several taken of Ruby by Georges Cagneaux, a fine photographer. The piano can be seen in the room in another photo.

Ruby Rich (right) in 1964 at the opening of the 20th Triennial Congress of the Alliance Internationale Des Femmes

Comments on contents to Marianne Dacy. Wednesday, 07-Dec-2011 12:03:43 AEDT