British pianist and composer Julian Jacobson celebrates his seventieth birthday in style with a series of Sunday afternoon piano recitals at St John's Smith Square, London UK. The series features masterpieces by four composers particularly associated with Jacobson's long career - Beethoven, Schubert, Prokofiev and Gershwin. The last of the four concerts also introduces Jacobson's regular piano duo partner, Mariko Brown, and hints at Jacobson as arranger/composer.
The first concert on 22 October 2017 features Beethoven's Eroica Variations, Op 35, Schubert's Four Impromptus, D 899 and Prokofiev's Sonata No 6 in A, Op 82 (the first of Prokofiev's 'War Trilogy' sonatas, which can all be heard in this series, marking the end of the centenary of World War I).
The middle two recitals concentrate on great piano sonatas: on 26 November 2017, Schubert's Sonata in D, D 850, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Prokofiev's Stalingrad Sonata, then on 11 February 2018, Beethoven's Pathétique, Schubert's No 20 in A, D 959 and Prokofiev's No 8, Op 84.
At the last concert on 11 March 2018, Jacobson plays Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy in C, D 760, Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata and a selection from Prokofiev's Ten Pieces Op 75 Romeo and Juliet - 'Folk Dance' (No 1), 'The Young Juliet' (No 4), 'Montagues and Capulets' (No 6) and 'Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell' (No 10). The series then finishes in a lighter mood, as Jacobson is joined by Mariko Brown for his own transcription for four hands at one piano of Gershwin's colourful An American in Paris.
All four recitals begin at 3pm on Sunday afternoons, and booking is open now at sjss.org.uk
If you can't make it to London to hear these recitals, Jacobson will also play some of these sonatas in France and Germany. On Saturday 11 November 2017, 7.30pm at Langenfeld in Germany and on Saturday 18 November, 7.30pm at Scots Kirk, Rue Bayard, Paris 75008, France, Jacobson will play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Schubert in D, D 850 and Prokoviev's No 7 in B flat Op 83. He is also due to appear with the Amati Orchestra at St James Piccadilly in London, 7.30pm on 28 April 2018 to play Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, and on Saturday 26 May 2018 he'll play Brahms' Piano Concerto No 2 with the Brandenburg Sinfonia and conductor Peter Robinson at St James Sussex Gardens, London W2 3UD, UK. Next summer, on 3 and 5 August 2018 he will make two appearances at the Altaussee Chamber Music Festival in Austria with violinist Priya Mitchell, playing music by Bach, Brahms and Beethoven.
Julian Jacobson was born in Peebles, Scotland into a musical family - his father, Maurice Jacobson, studied piano with Busoni, and his mother, pianist and composer Margaret Lyell, studied in Berlin with Else Krause, daughter of Liszt's pupil Martin Krause.
Julian studied in London from the age of seven - piano with Lamar Crowson and composition with Arthur Benjamin, and had published four songs by the time he was nine. At the Royal College of Music in London (1959-1968) he studied with John Barstow and Humphrey Searle and graduated with the Sarah Mundlak Piano Prize. He then read music on a scholarship at Queen's College, Oxford. He also became a founder member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Following further studies with Louis Kentner, Jacobson's London debut was at the Purcell Room in 1974, followed by five appearances in the Park Lane Group's Young Artists series and his Wigmore Hall debut as solo pianist and chamber musician.
During the 1980s he established himself as a duo and ensemble pianist, appearing with many well-known artists. In 1992 he became Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, leading to increasing concentration on solo work.
In 1994 he played the first of eight performances of the complete cycle of 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. On the last two occasions he performed the cycle in a complete day - apparently only the second pianist to have accomplished this. His 2003 marathon at St James's Piccadilly in London attracted worldwide media coverage and raised more than £6000 for WaterAid.
Jacobson has performed as soloist with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra. the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, London Sinfonietta, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Bucharest Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Omani Symphony Orchestra, working with many conductors including Simon Rattle, Tamas Vasary and Jane Glover.
He has also appeared at many festivals in the UK, and in more than forty countries on five continents. He appears to have given the first Chinese performance of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata in 1994. He is also committed to performing contemporary music and to recording.
From 1988 until 2004 he was Artistic Director of the Paxos International Festival in Greece, and is Artistic Director of Rencontres Musicales à Eygalières. He has given masterclasses throughout the world, and teaches regularly at Cadenza Summer School at the Purcell School in North London.
Julian Jacobson is currently a professor of piano and chamber music at the Royal College of Music in London.
Posted: 14 September 2017
by Keith Bramich
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