Pianist, composer and author Leona Francombe has pursued music and writing all her life. Guided by these twin muses - who have more in common than one might think - she can be found most days coaxing narrative from music and melody from words.
Leona was born in England of Czech and English parents and grew up in the United States, where she graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in Russian and music, and later received a Master’s degree from Yale School of Music. In 1987, she was invited to Belgium by the European Cultural Foundation to create and perform with an international chamber ensemble: Concorde East/West. She also received grants from UNESCO and the Franz Josef Foundation of Liechtenstein for this project. She lives in Brussels with her family.
As pianist, Leona has given solo recitals in the United States, Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Belgium, England, Germany and France, and performed in collaboration with: The Prague String Quartet, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Fine Arts Quartet, Marienbad Symphony Orchestra, Lewes Concert Orchestra, South Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic, among others. She gave her debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at the age of sixteen. Teachers and coaches have included: Břetislav Novotný, Georg Ebert, Menahem Pressler, Claude Frank, Ward Davenny, Leon Pommers and Harry Franklin.
Leona’s essays and fiction are often inspired by music, experiences in nature, and European themes and moods. Her writing has appeared in Writers’ Forum, Symphony Magazine, The Bulletin, Humanities Magazine, UNESCO’s Reflections, Explore Magazine and Banff Letters, among others. In 2011, Leona was asked to write and record a series of European essays – Letters from Brussels - for "Here on Earth” on Wisconsin Public Radio. Her first novel, Dancing with Swans, was published in German translation by Goldmann Verlag in 2014. Her debut in English, The Sage of Waterloo, was published by W.W. Norton in the U.S. and U.K. in 2015.