Nelson and Neal
Allison Nelson (born Adelaide, Australia) and Harry Lee Neal (born Paris, Tennessee, United States – September 15, 1968, Paris, Tennessee, United States) were a duo-piano married couple performing throughout the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. They taught at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM), where Nelson is professor emeritus in piano. They published the Nelson and Neal Piano Study Series (12 books of piano studies) for their children, and a book about their years on the road as traveling performers: Wave As You Pass by Harry Neal, 1958 (now out of print).
Allison Nelson was a native of Adelaide, Australia. A child prodigy in piano, she was well known throughout Australia at a young age. Harry Neal grew up in Paris, Tennessee, the son of William Fisher Neal, who was a prominent lawyer and politician in Henry County. They were married on New Year's Day, 1949 on Endsmeet Farm, just outside of Philadelphia.
Allison and Harry both studied piano at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Allison is one of few students to ever be accepted into Curtis without an audition. Eugene Ormandy, who had seen her playing while visiting Australia, arranged for her to have a place there after seeing her perform. While there, Allison was a student of Rudolf Serkin, and Harry was a student of Isabelle Vengerova.
Harry and Allison spent time in 1950 in Adelaide after her national tour for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, living with her family. It was then that they decided to end their solo careers and become a permanent piano duo before returning to the United States in mid-1951.
The Neals and their three children, John, Kathie, and Elise were featured on This Is Your Life in 1958, where they received an Edsel station wagon as a gift. Ironically, Harry always said that Edsel was the best car he ever owned.
Harry Neal died on September 15, 1968 in Paris, Tennessee, of an apparent heart attack. Allison Nelson completed her career as a professor of piano at UTM, where she founded the UTM Piano Ensemble. In 2006, it is still active under the direction of Dr. Elaine Harriss, who for many years performed with Dr. Nelson.
- Rose Eide-Altman (ed.). "Women as Duopianists: Duos begun 1950's–1960's". PianoWomen.com. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
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