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Peter Hill

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Biography

Peter Hill is a pianist well known for his playing in difficult modern works and Bach, and for his interest in East Asian music, as well as for his scholarly writing. He studied music at Oxford, then attended the Royal College of Music in London studying classical repertory with Cyril Smith. He also studied with the famous French teacher Nadia Boulanger, which sharpened his already strong interest in contemporary classical music. In 1974 he won first prize at a competition in Darmstadt (considered the capital of European avant-garde music at the time). He became a Jubilee Fellow at Royal Holloway College. In that capacity he wrote an important article for Tempo magazine on Western music influenced by Chinese music. This commended him to composer Brian Dennis, a composer highly affected by Chinese art and music, resulting in Hill's acclaimed performances of Dennis' works Willow Waves and the suite A Little Water Music. He has three main recital partners: violinist Peter Cropper (a member of the Lindsay String Quartet), pianist Benjamin Frith, and composer-pianist George Benjamin. Hill's interest in newer music results in strikingly unusual recital programs, particularly in his concerts with Benjamin. British composers Nigel Osborne, Howard Skempton, and Douglas Young all have composed and dedicated music for him. He had a major artistic association with French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992). Messiaen personally consulted with him on all his piano music and endorsed his performances. Hill's complete set of Messiaen piano works on seven CDs on the Unicorn-Kanchana label, completed in 1994, is one of the landmarks of 20th century piano music recordings; its centerpiece is the series of discs devoted to Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux. In 2013, Hill premiered La Fauvette Passerinette, a near-complete work he discovered in Messiaen's manuscripts. He appears at international festivals and frequently on radio programs. The BBC named an all-Bach recital of Hill's as one of its broadcast highlights of the year 1988. His scholarly publications include The Messiaen Companion, a discussion of the composer's music. In 2000 he was engaged in a series of the complete piano music of composer Igor Stravinsky. Hill teaches at Sheffield University and lives in Yorkshire in the North of England. He played at the first Sheffield Chamber Music Festival in 1984, and has continued to make regular appearances there. He is credited with helping revitalize music in Sheffield.

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'00s