Martin Jones, pianist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I think that being a chorister in Magdalen College, Oxford, was a wonderful training in singing, listening, sight reading and having to perform every day. It meant that music was an important part of every school day.

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

As most pianists might say, dealing with various pianos of varying sizes, age and road-worthiness.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

A studio performance of the Busoni Concerto which was done in one take (over an hour of music) but I was a lot younger then!!

Recordings I would chose Franciax duets 15 portraits and the music of Guastavino.

Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?

20th century repertoire; but work is still in progress with some newer composers.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

Nothing. Before I play I try not to think too much about what I am going to do, hoping I have prepared well enough. Of course, that is very difficult to know until after the performance and there is always room for improvement.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I love to try and introduce unusual pieces that an audience will enjoy by composers they may be unfamiliar with.

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

Wigmore Hall mainly because of the history but I prefer smaller halls with seating that can be arranged to make the atmosphere more intimate and involving for the listeners.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

Smaller venues spread around the country to encourage people to come along. Also music in schools is the most important thing .

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Playing Stravinsky’s Capriccio with an orchestra in the USA. I had a memory slip in the last movement, so we stopped and after I had looked at the conductor’s score we played the movement without further mishaps. The audience loved it. But what made it so memorable was the review in the paper the next morning said how kind I was to help the conductor find his place!!!!!!! For some odd reason I have never been invited back………..

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To give some in the audience pleasure.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Talk to a working professional musician so that you are sure it is the way you want to spend your life. It is not all glamour but it can be wonderful.

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

Still alive

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Continuing as I am.

What is your most treasured possession?

My collection of toy Dinky buses

Martin Jones performs music by Debussy, Liszt, Grainger/Strauss, Albéniz and Gershwin/Wild in a special concert to celebrate his 80th birthday at LSO St Luke’s on Saturday 2nd October. The eclectic and diverse programme gives a taste of the 100 recordings he has made for Nimbus Records since 1973. Further information


Martin Jones was a chorister at Magdalene College School and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He has been one of Britain’s most highly regarded solo pianists since first coming to international attention in 1968 when he received the Dame Myra Hess Award. The same year he made his London debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and his New York debut at Carnegie Hall, and ever since has been in demand for recitals and concerto performances on both sides of the Atlantic.

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