She enrolled at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, and at the age of 17 entered the Budapest Conservatory where she studied with Artur Schnabel, Zoltán Kodály, and Béla Bartók. In the 1930s, she continued her studies with Severin Eisenberger, Eduard Steuermann in Vienna and Arthur Schnabel in Berlin, who focused her interest in the classical tradition.
Lili Kraus soon became known as a specialist in Mozart and Beethoven. Her early chamber music performances and recording with violinist Szymon Goldberg helped gain the critical acclaim that launched her international career. In the 1930s, she toured Europe, Japan, Australia and South Africa. In 1940, Kraus embarked on a tour of Asia where, while in Java, she and her family were captured and interned in a concentration camp by the Japanese from June 1943 until August 1945.
After the war, she settled in the United Kingdom where she spent many happy years playing and performing and teaching. She became a British citizen and resumed her career, teaching and touring extensively. In the early 1950s she performed the entire Beethoven sonata cycle with violinist Henri Temianka. From 1967 to 1983, she taught as artist-in-residence at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. After that she made her home in Asheville, North Carolina, where she died in 1986.
Her husband was Jewish (later converted to Catholicism) Austrian philosopher and patron Otto Mandl (b. 1889).
- Biography at Bach Cantatas
- European Archive Copyright free LP recording of Lili Kraus playing two Haydn piano sonatas at the European Archive (for non-American viewers only).
- Naxos: Lili Kraus
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