Julius Drake, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?

I always loved the piano from day 1 when I started at the age of seven. Soon after I told my mother that I wanted to be a concert pianist at night and a refuse collector by day!

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

The answer is the many marvellous musicians that I collaborate with in the world of chamber music and song. To single out fellow pianists, Menahem Pressler and Radu Lupu have both been inspirations.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Probably playing Janacek’s ‘Diary of One who Disappeared’ from memory in the dark (!) for Deborah Warner’s production that went to Amsterdam, London, Dublin and New York.

Which performances/recordings with tenor Ian Bostridge are you most proud of?

Schumann, Schubert, Britten, An English Songbook and La Bonne Chanson

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I feel particularly close to Schubert, Schumann and Janacek…

How do you and your recital partners make repertoire choices?

By mutual agreement! It is one of the great pleasures to choose what to study and perform next.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I have a few favourites: in London Wigmore Hall and Middle Temple Hall, in Vienna the Mozartsaal at the Konzerthaus and in Amsterdam the Kleinesaal at the Concertgebouw.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Gosh, that is a hard one! One of them for sure was my debut at Wigmore Hall many years ago performing the complete chamber music for winds and piano of Poulenc. We were all young unknown debutants but the programme caught the public imagination and to our astonishment we had a sell out.

What do you consider to be the most important lessons to pass on to young musicians?

Love the music and spend your life trying to become a better musician!

The pianist Julius Drake lives in London and enjoys an international reputation as one of the finest instrumentalists in his field, collaborating with many of the world’s leading artists, both in recital and on disc.

He appears regularly at all the major music centres: the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Munich, Schubertiade, and Salzburg Music Festivals; Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre New York; the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Philarmonie Berlin; the Châtalet and Musée de Louvre Paris; La Scala Milan and Teatro de la Zarzuela Madrid; Musikverein and Konzerthaus Vienna; and Wigmore Hall and BBC Proms London.

Director of the Perth International Chamber Music Festival in Australia from 2000 – 2003, Julius Drake was also musical director of Deborah Warner’s staging of Janáček’s Diary of One Who Vanished, touring to Munich, London, Dublin, Amsterdam and New York. Since 2009 he was been Artistic Director of the Machynlleth Festival in Wales.

Julius Drake’s passionate interest in song has led to invitations to devise song series for the Wigmore Hall, London, the BBC and the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. A series of song recitals – Julius Drake and Friends – in the historic Middle Temple Hall in London, has featured recitals with many outstanding vocal artists including Sir Thomas Allen, Olaf Bär, Iestyn Davies, Veronique Gens, Sergei Leiferkus, Dame Felicity Lott, Simon Keenlyside and Sir Willard White.

More about Julius Drake here

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