Julian Saphir

... was born in Barnet Hertfordshire and began playing the piano at the age of four. He started formal piano lessons at the age of seven with Eve Weinberg and his progress was so rapid that just three years later he gave his London recital debut at Regency Hall, Oxford Street in a programme of works by Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff.

At thirteen, Julian became a student of Guy Jonson of the Royal Academy of Music. Cautious of early public exposure, the next couple of years were spent developing his technique and musicianship and in 1988, as part of the North London Music Festival, he won the Liszt Competition and was runner up in the Frank Britton Memorial Competition. He was later presented with the Dorrie Clayton Cup and the Lillian Ada Hughes Memorial Prize. In September of that year, Julian commenced his studies at the Royal College of Music, London with Phyllis Sellick OBE and John Blakely (piano accompaniment). He won the first and second year undergraduate piano prizes, the Cyril Smith Concerto Competition (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini), the Frank Merrick Award for British Contemporary Music (Sorabji) and a special prize for his Finals recital for his monumental interpretation of the Liszt B minor Sonata, an award which saw him graduate with a First in 1992. Other competition success came in 1989 and 1991 with First Prize and the Duke of Devonshire Award at the Eastbourne Concerto Competition and Silver Medal at the Florence Brant International Piano Competition.

Julian became known for his extraordinary diversity of repertoire. In 1990, he gave an historic performance of part of Kaikhosru Sorabji.s “Opus Clavicembalisticum”, a performance he was later to repeat along with other works by the same composer at London’s British Music Information Centre. The same year Julian gave the premiere of Neil Crossland’s Piano Suite and later partnered Karl Lutchmayer in the rarely heard two piano version of Busoni’s “Fantasia Contrapuntistica”.

However, in 1994, he was forced to withdraw almost entirely from the concert platform due to the illness of a loved one where he adopted the role of main carer only giving occasional concerts and appearances. After an absence of over six years coupled with a quiet and selective re-emergence on to the concert scene, Julian has become an inspiration to those who know his personal story and something of an enigma to those who have heard his exceptionally profound interpretations and often breathtaking virtuosity.

Today, Julian is enjoying a growing reputation as a solo artist. In June 2005 he performed the complete Rachmaninoff Preludes in London to critical acclaim The following month he took on the joint roles of performer and Artistic Director of the inaugural Master Musicians series at Harewood House, Leeds. The series was proud to host a prestigious Shigeru Kawai piano, the only one of its kind in the UK, and since then Julian has performed Rachmaninoff’s second and third concertos and Prokofiev’s third concerto on the same instrument. In May 2011 Julian performed a monumental all-Liszt recital at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Building, Oxford University, to mark the composer’s bicentenary year.

Julian is now enjoying a collaboration with Kawai Pianos promoting them in Japan, Europe and Australia. His playing has been praised by Hirotaka Kawai himself.

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