Peter Katin

Peter Katin


• 1930 2015


Although his early career seemed centered on Mozart and Beethoven, pianist Peter Katin became known as a great interpreter of Romantic keyboard literature, which he played with a serene warmth and big tone. He started playing when he was four years old. He had been studying privately with Harold Craxton before he was granted early admission to study with Craxton at the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 12, rather than the normal age of 16. He also credits Clifford Curzon, Claudio Arrau, and Myra Hess as being great influences in his musical life: "...I learned more in three long afternoons than I ever learned anywhere else." He gave his debut recital, a program that ranged from Scarlatti to Scriabin, at Wigmore Hall in 1948. His first concerto performance was Beethoven's Concerto No. 4 with the London Symphony in 1951. Enthusiastic critical response led to many more orchestral engagements, most featuring Romantic concertos, beginning with the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 for his first appearance at the Proms in 1952 and Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 3 for his second the next year. Christopher Seaman, Paavo Berglund, George Cleve, and Owain Arwel Hughes are just a few of the conductors he worked with in his career. In the late '60s, Katin undertook more comprehensive study of certain composers, such as Chopin, Schubert, Schumann, Debussy, Liszt, and Grieg, often presenting recitals comprising a single composer's works. His diligent study also led to his writing his own program notes and recording performances on historical instruments, such as one Chopin used on his last visit to London. Most of his recordings are of the solo piano works of those composers he studied. His career as a soloist gave him few opportunities to perform with others, although in the 1970s he did accompany Victoria de Los Angeles in three recitals, and he did form a piano trio in 1997. He taught privately in addition to holding positions at the Royal Academy of Music (1956-1959), the University of Western Ontario (1978-1984), and the Royal Conservatory of Music since 1992. His students included Gordon Fergus-Thompson, Howard Shelley, and Philip Fowke. In 1998 he was able to relive his debut recital, 50 years later to the day, at Wigmore with a very simliar program.