Key Points:

One of New Zealand's best known concert pianists, Tessa Birnie, has died in Sydney, aged 73.

Birnie, born in Ashburton in 1934, studied music in Wellington and made her debut as a concert pianist in Paris in 1960.

Her tours took in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Birnie later settled in Sydney and was credited with founding the Sydney Camerata Orchestra.

She was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Birnie was described as 'the marathon woman of the keyboard' and became a leading authority on Austrian composer Franz Schubert.

Her mammoth recital projects include performing the 450 piano works of Schubert and the complete keyboard works of Joseph Haydn, which include 54 sonatas.

Birnie published her autobiography, I'm Going to be a Pianist, in 1997.