James Rhodes

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About James Rhodes

British pianist James Rhodes has gained considerable renown, not only because of his unorthodox programming ideas combined with straightforward performance and his recordings that regularly top the iTunes classical chart, but also because of the books he has authored.


Rhodes was born on March 6, 1975, in London. Rhodes heard a recording of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 ("Emperor") belonging to his father. He asked for and was given piano lessons, but made little progress. Between the ages of 14 and 18, he studied with Colin Stone, advanced further, and eventually earned a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1993.

Considering the idea of becoming a music agent, he wrote to Italian agent Franco Panozzo. Panozzo agreed to meet Rhodes, concluded that he should become a pianist instead, and arranged for further teaching. Rhodes made his recital debut at London's Steinway Hall in 2008. The following year he appeared in a BBC documentary observing the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth, and in 2010 he was signed to the Warner Bros. label, becoming the first classical pianist signed to the label's rock division.

Rhodes has maintained a full concert schedule, appearing as far afield as Barbados, Hong Kong, and Chicago, where he was featured at the International Beethoven Festival. He has appeared at rock clubs and festivals including the Latitude Festival, where he was the first classical pianist to appear. But he is perhaps best known for his unusually titled albums: 2010's Bullets & Lullabies is representative. Despite their unorthodox titles and concepts, Rhodes has mostly played mainstream classical repertory from Bach to the late Romantics. He has recorded mostly for the Signum Classics label, issuing Fire on All Sides in 2018.

In addition to performing and recordings, Rhodes has written for London's Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers; filmed a documentary about a program aimed at collecting unused instruments and giving them to U.K. schoolchildren, and hosted his own television series, among other appearances. He has written three books: an autobiography, a piano instructional manual, and 2018's Fire on All Sides. His recordings and books have been chart toppers, and a film adaptation of his autobiography was planned for 2020.

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