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Concert pianist, Marian Anderson protege Burton-Lyles dies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Blanche Burton-Lyles, a concert pianist who was mentored by pioneering opera singer Marian Anderson, has died. She was 85.

Slater Funeral Home in Philadelphia says Burton-Lyles died of heart failure Monday at a rehabilitation center.

Burton-Lyles was born and raised in Philadelphia. She learned how to play classical piano at the age of 3. The Marian Anderson Historical Society says she was the first African-American woman pianist to perform at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She was 14 at the time.

Marian Anderson gave Burton-Lyles a recommendation for early admission to the Curtis Institute of Music. In 1954, she became the first African-American woman pianist to graduate from the institute.

She went on to tour around the world before teaching music.

Burton-Lyles committed herself to preserving Anderson’s legacy. She established a society in her name and turned the opera singer’s Philadelphia home into a museum.

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