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My StoryMy early years
I was born in Leeds into a musical family - my father was a professional violinist, clarinettist and saxophonist.
I started to learn the piano when I was six and became a pupil of Fanny Waterman two years later. At the age of ten I made my debut (described as 'sensational' in the press) in Leeds Town Hall playing a Mozart concerto with the Halle Orchestra under its conductor Sir John Barbirolli. This brought me to the attention of Ruth Railton, founder and director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, who immediately invited me to appear with the orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival and on a tour of Holland and Belgium. The performances in Brussels and Amsterdam were in the famous Palais des Beaux Arts and Concertgebouw.
Only just in my teens!
Whilst still a schoolboy I continued to give a limited number of concerts including a London debut at the Royal Festival Hall, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall with the N.Y.O.. At this time I produced my first recording for Pye-Nixa - a recital of works ranging from Scarlatti to Bartok which received favourable reviews. Shortly after, I was awarded the Harriet Cohen Silver Commonwealth Medal, and was seen playing part of a Beethoven concerto in a film called 'The Lady is a Square' starring Anna Neagle and Frankie Vaughan!
Intensive studies continued after leaving Leeds - first with the eminent pianist Denis Matthews, who broadened my interest into the chamber music repertoire, and then in the Soviet Union with Victor Merzhanov. In 1961 I had become the first British pianist to win a scholarship to study at the Moscow Conservatoire, and while there was able to meet some of the most distinguished musicians in the world including David Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan and Mstislav Rostropovich, with whom I was to have the honour of playing at the Festival Hall some years later. During my time in Moscow I had the opportunity to give concerts in Vladimir and Klin, birthplace of Tchaikovsky, as well as radio and television broadcasts.
In full swing!
On my return to England in 1965 my career was extremely busy with many regional recital tours, concerto engagements with all the leading British orchestras (under conductors including Solti, Haitink and Fruhbeck de Burgos) and numerous BBC broadcasts. As a child I had been encouraged by my father to sight-read the violin and piano repertoire with him and this stood me in good stead in later years as I collaborated with some of the finest instrumentalists in their field; my own horn trio with Ifor James and Nona Liddell, duos with Stefan Popov ('cello), Carl Pini (violin), and quintets with the Fitzwilliam and Coull Quartets. I was also a member of a wind quintet and a contemporary music group. Abroad I made tours of Canada and the USA, played in Germany, Switzerland,France and Columbia, as well as returning to the Soviet Union on four occasions to perform in cities as far apart as Archangelsk and Tbilisi.
The Guardian has described me as "the ideal Mozart pianist", and this reputation brought me invitations to Salzburg and Cape Town to take part in the commemorations of the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death.
Looking back, I have had a long and distinguished career (not over yet!) and consider some of the highlights to be recitals in the Philharmonic Hall in Leningrad (as it then was) and in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire. In the early seventies my life as a young musician was compared to that of the great violinist, Henryk Szeryng, in a B.B.C. documentary. And I must not forget a visit to Balmoral to perform for Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip!
My CD recordings
Spanning a period of some forty years they are too many to list! They include Mozart concertos with the L.P.O. under Sir Charles Mackerras, Delius violin sonatas with David Stone, quintets by Bridge and Elgar with the Coull Quartet, Schubert piano duets with John Humphreys and a long list of solo discs culminating with my recent issue of works by Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann. I do still sell a few of my recordings directly; please see the list of available recordings.
Currently. . .
I continue to be an active performer, with regular concerts here and abroad. This is combined with occasional "master classes" for children attending local schools in Bristol, my adopted home city. I also give highly informative and amusing talks on a life of music.
More recently I have been combining business with pleasure by performing regularly on luxury cruise liners.
And a little information about my personal life...
Since childhood I have tried to live as full and rounded a life as possible - not always easy as the life of a musician entails daily practice - and I have managed to enjoy a healthy interest in many different sports. Through my great friendship with my teacher, Denis Matthews, I became very keen on billiards (like Mozart!!) and I now continue to play snooker as regularly as I can. The theatre and walking are my other pastimes which I share with my wife, Rosemary.
As my sister and her family are still living in Leeds I have a good excuse to return to my roots a couple of times a year. My two sons live in Suffolk and London with their families, which involves us in a deal of cross-country travel, while Rosemary's two children are in Hatfield and Bristol.
We now spend as much time as we can with our eight grand-children!
Who would have thought...
In June of this year, I was privileged to be awarded the British Empire Medal for Services to Music and Charity in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.