Pianists in the Wood
Solomon Cutner CBE (1902 -1988)
Known professionally as Solomon, he was a child prodigy who gave his first concert in 1912 at the age of ten. He then retired from public performances in his teens, resuming his career as an adult performer.
Renowned especially for his Beethoven, he was in the midst of recording the complete cycle of 32 piano sonatas in 1956 when he suffered a devastating stroke which paralysed his right arm. He never performed again but went on to live for a further 32 years, looked after devotedly by his long-time partner and later wife Gwen. They lived at 16 Blenheim Road, St John’s Wood.
He was appointed a CBE in 1946 and died in 1988 at the age of 85.
Katharine Goodson (1872-1958)
Born in Watford, at the age of twelve she studied the piano at the Royal Academy of Music. Her London debut took place in 1897. The tours of Europe which followed placed her in the front rank of British female pianists of the era. In 1903 she married the composer Arthur Hinton and they lived at 14 St John’s Wood Road. In 1918 she claimed she was the first woman to give a recital at the Royal Albert Hall. In the 1930s she played under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham. The two maintained a lasting professional relationship, based on a mutual appreciation. It was he who encouraged her to diversify and tour, performing a harpsichord concer
Dame Myra Hess DBE (1890 – 1965)
An English pianist, born to an English Jewish family living in Kilburn, London and best known for her performnces of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. She started playing the piano at an early age, starting lessons when she was five years old. In 1903, at the age of twelve she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where she met her mentor, Tobias Matthay who was to be instrumental in developing her talent. She made her debut at the age of seventeen, playing in the Queen’s Hall, a famous classical music concert hall ( destroyed in WW2) in central London with the New Symphony Orchestra and its then conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham.
During WW2 she organised classical music concerts in the National Gallery. She was made a Dame of the British Empire during WW2. Dame Myra lived at 8 Carlton Hill, St John’s Wood from 1925 until it was bombed during WW2 when she then moved to 23 Cavendish Close.
Benno Moiseiwitsch CBE ( 1890 – 1963 )
was a Russian – born in Odessa (now Ukraine) pianist who began his studies at the age of seven, won the Anton Rubinstein Prize when he was just nine years old. He studied in Vienna for four years before coming to England.He made his English debut in 1908 and his London debut in 1909. Following on after an international concert schedule he settled in England and took British citizenship in 1937.
He was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1946 for his services to music during WW2 , having given many recitals for servicemen and charities.
He lived at 46 Avenue Road, St John’s Wood.
Harriet Cohen CBE ( 1895 – 1967 )
was a British pianist who was born on 2 December 1895 at 58 Anstell Road, Brixton, London. She was thincluding opera, other vocal music,orchestral e eldest daughter of Joseph Woolf Cohen, a company director and his wife, Florence White. The soprano Myra Verney was her younger sister. An amateur cellist and composer, her father was of Lithuanian extraction. Her mother was herself a gifted pianist. Harriet studied at the Royal Academy of Music under Tobias Matthay, having won a scholarship at the age of twelve. She became particularly associated with contemporary British music , giving the world premiere of Vaughan Williams’ piano concerto – which was written for her. She was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in 1938. At one time she lived at 1a Studio, Abercorn Place which was bought for her by Arnold Bax, her long-time lover.
Benjamin Britten OM CH (1913 – 1976 )
was an English composer, conductor and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th century British music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best -known works include the operas “Peter Grimes” and “Billy Budd” , the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra “. At one time he and his partner Peter Pears lived in a flat over a shop in St John’s Wood High Street.
Imogen Cooper DBE ( 1949 – )
A historically important British solo pianist, Imogen Cooper has devoted her extensive, and ongoing, performing career to her repertoire, richly upholding the values of classical music as an inspiration to listeners and colleagues worldwide. The Queen presented Imogen Cooper with Her Majesty’s Medal for Music in an Audience at Buckingham Palace. The Medal was awarded to Dame Imogen in August 2020 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the musical life of the nation.
Gerald Moore CBE ( 1899 -1987)
was an Englsh classical pianist, best known for his career as a collaborative pianist for many distinguished musicians – Fischer Dieskau, Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Angeles and Kathleen Ferrier. After Kathleen died, he and his wife took over her flat at 40 Hamilton Terrace before moving to Penn, Buckinghamshire on his retirement.
Sir Stephen A G Hough CBE (1961- )
is a classical pianist, composer and writer. He joined the Roman Catholic Church when he was 19 years old. He became an Australian citizen in 2005 and thus has dual nationality.
In 2008 he won the 6th International Poetry Competition, and in 2012 he had a solo exhibition of his paintings in London. In 2014 he was awarded the CBE for services to music and In 2018 he was made an honorary member of the Royal Philharmonic Society. In June 2022 he was awarded a knighthood.
He has written about his homosexuality and its relationship with both his music making and his religion. He lives in St John’s Wood in a mews house .