WILLIAM HOWARD is one of Britain’s leading pianists, enjoying a career that has taken him to over 40 different countries. His performing life consists of solo recitals, concerto performances, guest appearances with chamber ensembles and instrumentalists. In 1983 he founded the Schubert Ensemble, with which he performed for the full 35 years of the Ensemble’s existence (it gave its final concert in June 2018). Winner of the 1998 Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Best Chamber Ensemble, the Schubert Ensemble earned a worldwide reputation as one of the finest piano and string ensembles, as well as setting up several ground-breaking educational projects and commissioning 50 concert works.
His solo career has taken him to many of Britain’s most important festivals, including Bath, Brighton and Cheltenham, and he has been artist in residence at several others. He has performed many times in the Wigmore Hall and the South Bank in London and has broadcast regularly for BBC Radio 3. For many years he coached chamber music at Birmingham Conservatoire and performed and taught at the Dartington International Summer School.
As soloist and chamber musician he can be heard on over 40 CDs, released by Chandos, Hyperion, ASV, NMC, Collins Classics, Black Box, Champs Hill, Nimbus, Delphian and Orchid Classics. His recording of Fibich’s Moods, Impressions and Souvenirs won a Diapason D’Or award in France and his 2011 recording of Pavel Zemek Novák’s extraordinary 75-minute cycle of 24 Preludes and Fugues, described by David Matthews as “one of the finest piano works of our time”, received a double five-star review in the BBC Music Magazine. Three recent recordings for Orchid Classics (Sixteen Romantic Love Songs, Sixteen Contemporary Love Songs and an album of piano works by Howard Skempton), have been hugely successful on streaming platforms and have enjoyed much critical acclaim.
He is passionate about 19th century piano repertoire, especially Schubert, Chopin, Schumann and Fauré. He also has a strong interest in Czech piano music and has been particularly acclaimed for his performance of Janáček, for which he received a medal from the Czech Minister of Culture in 1986. Throughout his professional life he has been active in commissioning new works and has taken part in over 100 premieres. He has enjoyed collaborations over several decades with many composers, including David Matthews, Pavel Zemek Novák, Howard Skempton and Judith Weir, who composed his first solo commission, The Art of Touching the Keyboard, in 1983. In 2016 he launched a project to commission love songs for solo piano from leading composers in the UK and abroad. He also set up an international composing competition for writing piano love songs that attracted over 500 entries from 61 countries.
Recent engagements have included recitals in Italy, Luxembourg and the UK and performances with the Carducci and Sacconi String Quartets and Quatuor Mona.
Photo John Clark