One of Britain’s creative and distinctive pianists, Julian Jacobson, is acclaimed for the vitality, colour and insight he brings to his enormous repertoire ranging across all styles and periods.
In a career spanning five decades, he has performed extensively in more than 40 countries, as well as maintaining an intensive UK concert and recording schedule. His 70th birthday in 2017 was marked by concerts in London and Paris, where he performed the virtuoso “War Trilogy” of Prokofiev (sonatas 6, 7 and 8) together with sonatas by Schubert and Beethoven, to critical acclaim.
Julian studied in London from the age of seven with Lamar Crowson (piano) and Arthur Benjamin (composition) and had four songs published by the age of nine. Further studies at the Royal College of Music and Queen’s College Oxford were supplemented by a period as the inaugural pianist in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, as well as lessons from the great Hungarian pianist Louis Kentner.
Jacobson’s appointment in 1992 as Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama led to an increasing concentration on solo work. In 1994 he embarked on his first cycle of the complete 32 Beethoven sonatas; he has now presented the cycle ten times. Three of these were “marathon” performances where he performed the entire cycle from memory in a single day – only the second pianist to attempt this.
His 2003 marathon at St James’s Church Piccadilly, London, raised over £6000 for WaterAid, while his 2013 marathon at the celebrated St Martin-in-the-Fields was streamed worldwide and attracted huge media coverage and rave reviews: he is planning an “anniversary” marathon for October 2022. Since 2014 he has been Chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe, where he is responsible for organising many concerts, competitions and other events for young players.
At present, he is currently a professor of piano and chamber music at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and a Guest Professor at Xiamen University, China. He was Artistic Director of the Paxos International Festival, Greece, from 1988 to 2004 and has given masterclasses in Germany, Paris, Budapest (Franz Liszt Academy), Spain, Sweden, USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the Middle East, and on many occasions in Dartington.
Always passionate about expanding his musical horizons, in the 2000s, he added the Sprechstimme (recitation) role in Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” to his repertoire, giving his fourth performance of it October 2009 in Jacqueline du Pré Hall, Oxford.
- Concerti nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
- Triple Concerto
- Choral Fantasy
- Chamber Concerto
- Concerto no. 1 in D Minor
- Concerto no. 2 in B flat
- Concerto no. 1 in E minor
- Concerto no. 2 in F minor
- Variations on a Nursery Theme
- David spielt vor Saul (2021, written for Julian Jacobson)
- Symphonic Variations
- Rhapsody in Blue; Second Rhapsody
- Piano Concerto in A minor
- Jazz Piano Concerto
- Concerto no. 1 in E flat
- All Concerti from K.414 in A
- Mozart Concerto forTwo Pianos K365
- Concerto no.1
- Concerto in G; Concerto for the Left Hand
- Concerto in A minor
- Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments
- Concerto no. 1 in B flat minor
- Concerto no.2 in C minor
- Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
- Concerto no. 2 in E flat
Not only a remarkable achievement of stamina, memory and dexterity, Julian Jacobson’s Beethoven Marathon – a performance of all of Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas in a single day – was also exhilarating, if slightly eccentric, artistic experience for both performer and audience.
Jacobson’s advocacy of this music in his playing – supported by his warm defence in the liner notes – reveals many beauties, and listened to in twos and threes rather than right through as a sequence, these are often delightful pieces….Jacobson’s unfailing sense of dancing rhythm keeps them on the move – and comes into its own in the Humoresques
Calum MacDonaldPianist Magazine
All praise then to Julian Jacobson, whose intelligent and spirited playing make him one of the best two or three pianists who have consistently dedicated themselves to British contemporary music.
Robin FreemanBritish Music Society News
It was quite clear from his recital….that the pianist Julian Jacobson is a musician to be reckoned with, an artist whose formidable interpretative power constantly reveals the known repertoire of sonatas by Haydn and Chopin in a clearer, penetrating and often revelatory light.
The Oxford Times