'A genius of enormous sensitivity and very great humour.' - Peter Maxwell Davies
The English pianist and composer John Ogdon was born at Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, on 27 January 1937. He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music alongside Harrison Birtwistle, Alexander Goehr, Elgar Howarth and Peter Maxwell Davies.
His talents included formidable sight-reading and memorising skills, and he played much unfamiliar repertoire by, for example, Alkan, Liszt and Scriabin. He made his London début at the Proms in 1958 with the Busoni piano concerto. He won first prizes at the 1961 Budapest Liszt Competition and the 1962 Tchaikovsky Competition.
He became known for championing the music of twentieth century British composers, including Elgar, Rawsthorne and Tippett. Just a few months before his untimely death, he recorded Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum on five discs.
His own music, more than two hundred works, includes operas, large-scale music for orchestra, cantatas, songs, chamber music, two piano concertos and much music for solo piano. He also transcribed and arranged other composers' music for piano, and wrote extensively about music.
Sadly, good health always seemed to elude him, and he died in London, aged only 52, on 1 August 1989.
A selection of M&V articles about John Ogdon
CD Spotlight. Instinctive Artistry - Jill Crossland plays Mozart and Beethoven, heard by Howard Smith. '... a distinctive, beautifully considered performance.'
CD Spotlight. A Spectral Atmosphere - Murray McLachlan plays music by Shostakovich and friends, recommended by Howard Smith. '... an outright triumph for the label and for McLachlan.'
CD Spotlight. Extrovert Optimism - Piano music by Benjamin Lees, recommended by Patric Standford. '... a pleasant surprise ...'
CD Spotlight. Mr Bean and Elgar - A compilation of recordings from the 1970s, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... a technical mastery that any world soloist might envy.'