Born in 1923 in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Joseph and Hazel Langenberg Mitchell, Jeanne Frances Mitchell spent the latter part of her childhood in Floral Park, Queens. She studied with one teacher and one teacher only: Chester La Follette, a violinist and pedagogue better known as the artist who painted the Senate portrait of his cousin, Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (Chester’s wife, Dorothea, was a piano teacher whose students included the great Willy Kapell.)
After graduating from Barnard College, Mitchell spent two years as a section player in the New York City Symphony under Leopold Stokowski before launching into a solo career with a 1947 recital at Town Hall. In the following years she toured internationally, performed six times at Carnegie Hall and soloed with such major ensembles as the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra — the latter under Eugene Ormandy, who became a great friend and champion.
In 1958, Mitchell married Louis Biancolli, author and music critic for the World-Telegram & The Sun. In 1960, their first daughter, Lucy Madeleine, was born. In 1963, Amy Jeanne arrived. A few years later, Mitchell approached Ormandy about reviving her career and soloing with the Philly once again; he told her that door had closed. In the time she had spent with her children, a female violinist had taken her spot on the stage.
In the ensuing years, she devoted much time and energy to rearing her daughters and, eventually, caring for her husband with great love and devotion as he declined.
But Jeanne Mitchell Biancolli never stopped playing. She never stopped growing. She took on private students; taught chamber music and led the music department at Wykeham Rise, a small girls’ arts school in Washington, Conn.; and performed locally, bringing her world-class artistry to smaller audiences throughout the 1980s. In the early 1990s, she performed the Brahms Double Concerto with cellist David Darling and the Ridgefield (Conn.) Symphony Orchestra. At her time of death in 1994, she was preparing the Glazunov Concerto with the same ensemble.
Some of her performances, recorded on cassette, have been transferred digitally and uploaded to the music page. More will be added.