Erika Burkewitch was the daughter of Kārlis and Wally. She was born and grew up in Priekule. On June 5, 1926 she was baptized at St. Anna’s Church in Liepāja. Erika was a lyric soprano. As a child she took piano lessons with teachers A.Kalninš and A.Abele. 1915-1918 she studied piano in Moscow with teacher Debura. 1918 in Liepaja, at the age of 14 Erika made her first role in a Mendelson comic opera Heimkehr aus der Fremde. In 1926 she graduated at Latvian Music Academy with teacher A.Valman-Kruminš vocal studies. In 1920s she also worked at the Latvian Foreign Ministry. In 1929 she married Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau. They had one son – Klaudio. By 1933 they were separated. Erika performed at different time periods under the names Erika Burkewitch or Erika Arrau. She performed in Latvia and across Europe. In 1930s she was a soloist at the Latvian Radio. In 1941 she hosted russian shows on German radio. When Erika’s son died in 1949 at a soviet prison in Bautzen she travelled to Australia. She took the journey on a WWII refugee carrier SS Mozaffari in March 1949. The departure port was Genoa, Italy arriving in Fremantle, Australia on the 21st of May. In Australia she got married and settled in Melbourne. She also continued performing. She gave her last performance in 1965, in Sidney. She is the adoptive mother of Greek origin opera-singer Stella Axarlis. Erika trained Stella vocally and was her manager


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