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DEATH OF ELS╔ STRAIN (MENGE) (article first published : 2002-03-18)

Former leader of the Durban City Orchestra, ElsÚ Strain (Menge) died in Benoni in January at the age of 88 from a stroke.

Born in Johannesburg, ElsÚ was taught to play the piano and violin by her father Otto Menge who was a well-known violinist & conductor. She also studied the piano with Margaret Albu.

She started her professional career in the Bree Street broadcast Studio in Johannesburg, and eventually got permanent work with the SABC, later being transferred to the Durban Studios where she led the Studio Orchestra for many years until it was disbanded. During this period, she also performed as a soloist in string quartets (which she continued throughout her career) and was involved in acting.

In 1947 she joined the Durban Civic Orchestra (later known as Durban Symphony Orchestra) where she met and married Ernest Strain ľ the principal trombonist. They had two children Jessie and Melanie.

She was made acting leader of the Durban Symphony Orchestra for a period in 1971, and is believed to have been the only women to lead a major orchestra at the time. It was a sad day for her when this orchestra was disbanded in 1977.

However, she joined the Durban City Orchestra in 1981 as the Leader and played until 1990 when she and her husband moved to East London to stay with their daughter Melanie and her husband Dave. She is survived by her husband Ernie and daughter Melanie.




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