About Leslie Howard
Known as a Liszt specialist, this Australian pianist trained in his native country and later settled in England, where he devoted himself to concert performance, teaching, and scholarly writing mostly all focused on the music of Liszt. Among his many impressive achievements is the recording of the composer's complete solo piano works, including many not heard since Liszt was alive and performing. Much honored, Leslie Howard has shared his extraordinary understanding of Liszt with students at a number of master classes where his erudition and ease help him convey the essence of Liszt's style. Despite his close identification with Liszt, Howard has recorded works by others composers, proving himself especially persuasive in the music of Franck, Rubinstein, and his fellow countryman Percy Grainger. In his native Melbourne, Howard studied with Donald Britton, June McLean, and Michael Brimer before making his debut with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1967. He began teaching at Monash University in 1970 and moved to England in 1972. There he undertook further piano training with Noretta Conci and studied composition with Franco Donatoni. Master classes in Siena with Guido Agosti added further polish to his piano technique. As he began to perform extensively in Europe and Australia, he acquired a reputation as a virtuoso artist whose approach was guided by a scholarly mind. He also became an instructor at the Guildhall School of Music beginning in 1987. Two years before, Howard had begun his monumental project which would result, at its completion in 1999, in 94 CDs holding the complete solo piano works of Liszt, including music prepared by the pianist from Liszt's unpublished manuscripts. The result prompted the issuance of a Special Grand Prix du Disque honoring the massive accomplishment. This acknowledgement was in addition to no fewer than five other awards of the regular Grand Prix du Disque given in recognition of Howard's special place in the classical recording industry. Throughout, Howard has enjoyed the support and encouragement of Hyperion Records. Howard has served as President of the British Liszt Society and is an honorary member of the Istituto Liszt in Bologna, Italy. For the inauguration of the latter organization, Howard played a drawing room concert as director Rossana Dalmonte explained the aims of the new organization. Performing on a restored 1860s vintage Steinway, Howard included pieces as varied as the Sarabande und Chaconne from Handel's Almira to Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen. His having been chosen for the occasion was evidence of the status he enjoys among Liszt scholars. Included in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honors list, Howard was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the arts. In 2000, Howard was honored by Hungary by being given the Pro Cultura Hungarica Award, and in 2009, he became president of the Alkan Society, a position he held in addition to being president of the Liszt Society. A regular lecturer on radio and television, Howard is also a member of the London Beethoven Trio together with violinist Catherine Manson and cellist Thomas Carroll. Among other interesting items in Howard's large discography are a two-CD set of works by Rubinstein, a recording of Tchaikovsky sonatas, and two twin CD sets of the complete piano and orchestra works of Liszt recorded with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and directed by Karl Anton Rickenbacher. Howard's recordings of music by Rachmaninov are also of fine quality.