Peter Donohoe (17 January)
Even in this age of hyperbole, it is surely appropriate to describe Peter Donohoe as a doyen among English pianists. Born in Manchester and educated at Chetham’s School in that city, he studied violin, viola, clarinet and tuba, and at 14 he became Derek Wyndham’s youngest piano student at the Royal Manchester College of Music. This apparently limitless versatility extended to playing timpani in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for his friend the 19-year-old Simon Rattle’s performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, as guest timpanist with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and his formation of a rock group and percussion ensemble.
However, during his final year as an undergraduate, he decided to put all his energies into the piano, and after graduating, spent a year studying with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod in Paris. He is no stranger to piano competitions, which he views with gentle scepticism, his major success in that field being Joint Silver Winner in the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Since then he has not been out of the public’s affection and admiration for his commanding virtuosity, musical intelligence and vast solo, concerto and chamber music repertoire, both on disc and in the concert hall.