Bryce Morrison

Bryce Morrison

Bryce Morrison is considered among the world's leading authorities on piano repertoire and performance. A music scholar of Kings School, Canterbury, he read English at Oxford University, later teaching in Canada and America, before settling in London where he has taught and written as a music critic for many years.

Teaching:

Bryce Morrison has been a Professor of keyboard literature and performance at the Royal Academy of Music, later giving written evaluations of public classes at the Academy, of students preparing for exams and competitions. He is a visiting Professor at Birmingham Conservatoire, Chetham’s School of Music, Royal Northern School of Music, and has taught at the Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity College of Music (now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance) and, for many years, at the Texas Conservatoire for Young Artists (Dallas). He has given masterclasses world-wide (America, Japan, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, amongst others), and more specifically, at the Juilliard School (New York), the University of Miami, and in 1988, was the Corina Frada Pick Professor of Advanced Piano Studies at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. In 1999, he gave a marathon 32 lectures and masterclasses at the Mannes School of Music in New York before continuing as a guest Professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara. In 2015, he gave a series of lectures at the Tropea Music Festival in Calabria, Italy. In 1986, and at the invitation of the Marquess of Londonderry, he lectured at a Liszt Festival held at Lord Londonderry's estate in Wynyard Park, on Teesside. This Festival was filmed for BBC television.

Bryce Morrison has lectured at Germany's Schloss vor Husum Festival (devoted to the performance of neglected piano repertoire), 'the story of Eileen Joyce; a celebration and a cautionary tale' and chaired a two-part discussion on whether Schnabel or Horowitz left the most important legacy for present day and future piano students. In 2016, he gave a lecture at the Hong Kong International Piano Competition entitled 'A question of music criticism', whilst also serving as a member of the Competition jury.

In successive years, his student Hugh Tinney won first prize at the International Ettore Pozzoli Piano Competition in Italy and at the Santander International Piano Competition in Spain, before becoming a finalist in the Leeds International Piano Competition. Bryce’s students have received the highest praise in the Guardian and the Times and have given no less than fourteen London recitals, appearing with great success on both radio and television (including Jorge Bolet's television masterclass on Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto).

Publications:

Bryce Morrison has published extensively in all the major British press, the Gramophone Magazine (his most recent work, critical assessments of sizeable boxed sets of the works of Stephen Kovacevich, André Watts, Emil Giles, Sviatoslav Richter, Dinu Lipatti and Maurizio Pollini: a 55 CD collection), as well as in Italy (a tribute to Radu Lupu). He has also broadcast extensively for the BBC (including thirty contributions to 'Building a Library,' a lively discussion of all the current recordings of a particular work), ABC and CBC. He has also published a recently re-issued study of Franz Liszt with a forward by Jorge Bolet. He has written over 500 annotations for all the major record companies with extended essays on the art of Claudio Arrau (who recommended Karl Jung and ballroom dancing as guides to sanity in an often insane profession), Vladimir Horowitz (who asked, without a flicker of irony, whether this writer thought he had a good technique), Moiseiwitsch, Cziffra, Gilels, Solomon, Richter, Alicia de Larrocha Gieseking, Eileen Joyce and Moura Lympany, amongst others). Bryce takes pride in having promoted, via broadcasts, the playing of Eileen Joyce (his essay, written in memory of his friendship over many years and of the first piano recital he ever attended aged 7, will be published in October 2017), Terence Judd (whose tragic death at the age of 22 is recalled in his essay 'A memory of Terence Judd', and in a series of broadcasts), Noel Mewton-Wood (in an essay and a television film), Germaine Thyssen-Valentin whose life he recalls on the sleeves of her recordings of the complete piano music of Fauré (for him the acme of quality). He has also appeared in recent television films about John Ogdon and Lang Lang.

Bryce featured in the novel, 'Black Piano' by Dawn Lowe-Watson, he has contributed three chapters to The Phaidon Book of the Piano, had two BBC talks published by the Oxford University Press, and had his humanist marriage to Lyndon Scarffe celebrated in a chapter of the book, 'Emerging Ritual' (edited by Jeltje Gordon-Lennox (published in 2017).

He has made over 50 contributions to the most recent edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, holds five degrees in music and literature, is an Honorary ARAM at the Royal Academy of Music, Honorary Member of the Chopin Society in London, and a member of the Critics’ Circle.

Competitions:

Bryce Morrison has been a jury member of over 50 International Piano Competitions where his colleagues have included Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jorge Bolet and Lazar Berman. He has chaired the juries of the Naumburg International Competition in New York - whose first prize winners have included Jorge Bolet, Abbey Simon, Stephen Hough and Stephen Osborne - the Scottish International Competition in Glasgow and the International Terence Judd Award in London. The Naumburg holds a special place in his affections; small in scale but large in achievement, it owes its success to its organisers, Robert Mann (for many years Leader of the celebrated Juilliard String Quartet) and his wife, Lucy Rowan. Bryce has felt privileged to appear twice as a jury member of the Geza Anda International Piano Competition in Switzerland, and will return as juror of the Hong Kong Competition in 2020.

Interviews:

Bryce Morrison has published interviews with Horowitz, Rubinstein, Arrau, Curzon, Martha Argerich, Andras Schiff, Ashkenazy, Bolet, Pollini, Sokolov and Arrau, as well as Weissenberg, Pogorelich, Kissin, Earl Wild and Garrick Ohlsson, amongst others.

Work in progress:

This includes a study of Gabriel Faure’s piano music and a book reflecting what Bryce Morrison sees as a deeply privileged career, a golden thread that has run throughout his life. For him, music in its infinite variety, is at the very heart of human experience and is, in Mendelssohn's immortal aphorism, 'too precise rather than too vague for language, an ultimate mirror of all that we think and feel, all that we are'.

The writer extends his thanks and deep appreciation to all those who have made his work possible, to Eileen Joyce whose recital all those years ago was an initial inspiration and spur, making the direction of his life clear, to his teachers Ronald Smith, Iso Elinson and most of all Alexander Uninsky (whose triumph in the 1932 Chopin Competition in Warsaw was later enriched by teaching that proved an unforgettable fund of wit and wisdom).