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Fanfare Contributor Bio

Robert Matthew-Walker

I was born in London in 1939 and studied at Goldsmiths College, the London College of Music, and the London College of Printing (now University of the Arts, London). After leaving the Army in 1962, following service at the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC), the War Office, and in North Africa, I studied composition privately with the French composer Darius Milhaud in Paris in 1962–63.

Employed in the City of London, I founded the Tunnel Club rock venue in Greenwich in 1968 before joining CBS Records in 1970 as head of the UK classical department, later becoming Director of Marketing, including pop, rock, folk, and jazz music, as well as classical. I moved to RCA Records as head of the classical department, where I launched James Galway‘s recording career, and later founded several specialist classical labels, including Phoenix Records UK, Trax Records, and AVM Classics.

I have produced almost 150 albums, winning the Grand Prix du Disque in 1980 for my recording of Brian Ferneyhough‘s Sonatas for String Quartet by the Berne String Quartet—the first recording of any music by Ferneyhough. I have won several other awards as a producer and I also appeared with the disco rapper Adamski on a dance single, Kraktali Daze.

For several years I was additionally owner and managing director of music publishers Alfred Lengnick & Co Ltd and in 1980 wrote and presented an eight-part History of Classical Recording for BBC radio. From 1984 to 1988 I was editor of the magazine Music and Musicians, part of the Seven Arts Group of which I was also publisher. Between 1996 and 2008 I edited the UK Grieg Society’s journal The Grieg Companion (Vols 1–12). In April 2009 I was appointed editor of Musical Opinion and its sister-publication The Organ. I have also published 32 books on a wide range of subjects, from Muhammad Ali to Robert Simpson and Vyacheslav Artyomov. My biography of Madonna was serialized in the British newspaper The Sun, and two novellas of mine were published in 2016 and 2017. In 2011 I was Visiting Lecturer in Music at the Southern Methodist University [SMU] in Dallas, Texas.

My compositions include six symphonies, a Sinfonia for Orchestra, “The Vikings at Helgeland,” Symphonic Variations, nine concertos, four string quartets, four piano sonatas, and two violin sonatas alongside many shorter orchestral and instrumental works. The first CD devoted entirely to my music was issued by Guild in 2016. Recent developments concerning my music are: In April 2016, the Ottenia Philharmonic Orchestra of Romania gave the televised world premiere of my Symphonic Variations, opus 7, composed in 1956 at the age of 17 and unheard for 60 years, conducted by the exceptional young English composer and conductor Christopher Petrie. In June 2017, the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of London under Petrie gave the premiere of my Varianter på temaer av Grieg (Variants on themes of Grieg) for string orchestra at the Greenwich Festival, to be followed by four further performances in London, Vienna, Berlin, and Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2018. Following his widely-praised recording of my Fantasy-Sonata “Hamlet” (Piano Sonata No. 3) for Naxos, Mark Bebbington gave the broadcast world premiere of A Bad Night in Los Angeles—a piece of modern disco music for solo piano—followed by more performances across England and in Kuala Lumpur. I am currently writing a set of Concertante Variations on a Theme of Paganini for piano and double string orchestra for Mark. My large-scale Fantasia della Sinfonia for 11-part string orchestra, in one movement, was premiered at the Bach-Paganini Festival in August 2017 under Rimma Sushanskaya (the last pupil of David Oistrakh), a performance (along with several other works) now available on YouTube.


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