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About Philip Martin

Philip Martin is a rare breed of musician, sort of a throwback to a time when the tag composer and pianist went hand-in-glove in the artistic world. Martin, in fact, is not just an accomplished pianist, but, like Chopin and Liszt, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, a virtuoso pianist. As a composer he has been quite versatile, producing orchestral works, concertos, songs, chamber music, and solo piano pieces. He has acknowledged American influences in his works, and while Samuel Barber was an idol, Martin's style, generally tonal and accessible, is eclectic and quite individual, often with programmatic elements dominating. As a pianist Martin is best known for his series of Gottschalk recordings for the Hyperion label, which consists of eight highly acclaimed volumes recorded between 1990 and 2004. Martin has recorded much other music, including many of his own compositions. His performing repertory, while broad, takes in works by many American composers, including Barber, Bernstein, William Schuman, and Rorem. Along with Hyperion, he has recorded for Marco Polo, Chandos, Nimbus, and Altarus.

Philip Martin was born in Dublin in 1947. He studied music at the Royal Academy of Music in London. While at the Hendon College of Technology in the latter 1960s, he studied composition with Franz Reizenstein, and later with Lennox Berkeley, Richard Rodney Bennett (film score composition), and Elizabeth Maconchy.

In 1970 Martin married soprano Penelope Price Jones, who inspired him to write more than 150 songs, many later recorded by her (with Martin as accompanist) on the Altarus label. Martin spent a year in the United States (1981) on a U.S.-U.K. Bicentennial Arts Fellowship, and during that time produced two of his more important song cycles: Songs for the Four Parts of the Night and Garments of the Night. He has since made regular concert appearances in the United States.

From about 1990 and on into the new century, Martin made a steady stream of recordings: along with the Gottschalk series, he recorded his Trio for Piano and Strings No. 1 (Serendipity), and several song collections (with his wife) on a 1995 Altarus CD and his Second Piano Concerto (with other works) on a 1998 Marco Polo disc. Along with composition and performance, Martin has also devoted a portion of his career to education, serving as a fellow at the Royal Academy of Music and a faculty member in composition and piano at the Birmingham Conservatoire. Martin was still recording into the 2000s, with more Gottschalk discs, Herz: Piano Music (2008), and Vaughan Williams: The Collector's Edition (2008).