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Peter Jacobs (Piano)

Born: August 17, 1945 - London, England

The English pianist, Peter Jacobs, was educated at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he studied piano with Alexander Kelley and harmony with Eric Fenby.

In 1973 Peter Jacobs teamed up with pianist Elizabeth Lightoller to fashion a short-lived duo. Two years later he appeared at London's Wigmore Hall as a soloist for a recital of works by little-known 20th century composers. Thereafter, he devoted himself to championing the cause of these supposedly lesser figures in keyboard literature. In the 1980’s he concertized regularly throughout the UK and steadily developed a following among concertgoers and critics. Among his first recordings was the 1987 Trax Classique album “The Lake in the Mountains”, a disc of piano music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Peter Jacobs has etched out a career built largely on the performance of works by lesser-known and neglected English and French composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries. In fact, some of the composers championed by the energetic and courageous Jacobs might better be described as little known or virtual unknowns to most listeners: Henry Balfour Gardiner, Alan Bush, John Foulds, Billy Mayerl, Benjamin Dale, Betty Roe, and Trevor Hold. He is also associated with music by familiar names - Ralph Vaughan Williams and Frank Bridge, for instance. But this pair are hardly famous for their keyboard music, and thus, performance of their piano works even entails a measure of risk. His recital programs have often included works by more mainstream composers, such as Haydn, L.v. Beethoven, Schubert, Frédéric Chopin, and Francis Poulenc, but he has rarely recorded anything in the standard repertorire, some Gabriel Fauré works excepted.

Peter Jacobs has made numerous recordings for several labels, including Hyperion, Olympia, Continuum, Priory Records UK, and Altarus. In June 1991 Jacobs, newly signed by the Hyperion label, recorded Vol. 1 of the complete solo piano music of Cécile Chaminade, the French composer whose short piano pieces won her enormous fame and fortune in her lifetime (1857-1944). Some of her works, such as Automne and Scarf Dance, have never quite disappeared from public affection, but Jacobs' three CD’s (Vol. 3 d was recorded in November 1995) have restored dozens of other pieces - some witty, some gentle, some reflective, all of them tuneful - which were once so popular. This series has drawn enthusiastic response from both critics and public alike. Jacobs also planned to record the complete works of another underrated French composer, Déodat de Sévérac, in 1996. Throughout the 1990’s he made many recordings, most devoted to less-traversed repertoire. Among the more notable of these was the 1998 Olympia release of 24 Preludes and 3 Rhapsodies by Charles Villiers Stanford. In the new century Jacobs continued promoting the music of little-known composers in his recital programs.

Peter Jacobs also served on the faculty of Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, West London, as the head of keyboard studies.

Source: Hyperion Website; All Music Guide (Author: Robert Cummings)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2011)

Peter Jacobs: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Peter Jacobs - piano (Hyperion)

Peter Jacobs (

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