Peter Donohoe


At a glance

Peter Donohoe


I cannot imagine a living pianist capable of improving upon Donohoe’s outstanding artistry.
Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion

Since his success as joint winner of the 1982 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Peter has gained international renown as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique.

Biography —

Peter Donohoe was born in Manchester in 1953. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, graduated in music at Leeds University, and went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derek Wyndham and then in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod. He is acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique.

In recent seasons Donohoe has appeared with Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic and Concert Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonia, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, Belarusian State Symphony Orchestra, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He has undertaken a UK tour with the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as giving concerts in many South American and European countries, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Russia, and USA. Other past and future engagements include performances of all three MacMillian piano concertos with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; a ‘marathon’ recital of Scriabin’s complete piano sonatas at Milton Court; an all-Mozart series at Perth Concert Hall; concertos with the Moscow State Philharmonic Orchestra, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall; and a residency at the Buxton International Festival.

Donohoe is also in high demand as a jury member for international competitions. He has recently served on the juries at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow (2011 and 2015), Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels (2016), Georges Enescu Competition in Bucharest (2016), Hong Kong International Piano Competition (2016), Harbin Competition (2017 and 2018), Artur Rubenstein Piano Master Competition (2017), Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition and Festival (2017), Alaska International e-Competition (2018), Concours de Geneve Competition (2018), Ferrol Piano Competition (2022), and Hong Kong International Piano Competition (2022), along with many national competitions both within the UK and abroad.

Donohoe’s most recent discs include six volumes of Mozart Piano Sonatas with SOMM Records. Other recent recordings include Haydn Keyboard Works Volume 1 (Signum), Grieg Lyric Pieces Volume 1 (Chandos), Dora Pejacevic Piano Concerto (Chandos), Brahms and Schumann viola sonatas with Philip Dukes (Chandos), and Busoni: Elegies and Toccata (Chandos), which was nominated for BBC Music Magazine Award.

Donohoe has performed with all the major London orchestras, as well as orchestras from across the world: the Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Symphony and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He has also played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Sir Simon Rattle’s opening concerts as Music Director. He made his twenty-second appearance at the BBC Proms in 2012 and has appeared at many other festivals including six consecutive visits to the Edinburgh Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, and at the Ruhr and Schleswig Holstein Festivals in Germany.

The 23/24 season kicked off with Peter Donohoe performing as a soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle with four performances of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie in London, Edinburgh, and Bucharest. In January 2024, Peter returns to Philadelphia for performance with the Ama Deus Ensemble and will then travel to Dubai to adjudicate the 3rd Classic Piano Competition 2024.

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Reviews —

...jaw droppingly virtuosi stuff - the sheer finger-memory involved is awesome... Donohoe was self-effacingly magisterial in this marathon.

Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

I cannot imagine a living pianist capable of improving upon Donohoe’s outstanding artistry.

Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion, January 2017

Donohoe achieves what must be a perfect realisation of Prokofiev’s emotions, style and state of mind.

Quarterly Review on Peter's Prokofiev Sonatas disc (Volume 2)

Donohoe was the complete virtuoso in this celebrated concerto, his incomparable delicacy of touch and beauty of tone especially noticeable in the composed cadenza of the first movement

Cambridge News on Peter's performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra

Donohoe’s performance was monumental, rhythmically charged, beautifully nuanced and utterly compelling

Ken Walton, The Scotsman

Donohoe was finely attuned to Prokofiev’s expressive lyricism and humour… here he appears to have regained a fluency and unselfconscious approach to this music, bringing its expression to full bloom.

BBC Music Magazine, 5*, on Peter's Prokofiev Sonatas disc (Volume 2)

One of our greatest home grown performers

Petroc Trelawny, BBC Radio 3

Donohoe gave one of those performances, unfortunately rare in the concert hall, with which it was impossible to find fault.

Seen and Heard International

Peter Donohoe played as if visited by the spirit of Rachmaninov…The fire and passion of the closing part of the last movement brought the performance to a magnificent climax. Not surprisingly, the audience erupted

Rian Evans, The Guardian

Ravel's music was brought to life with delicacy, clarity and dazzling virtuosity. I was struck by the maturity and masterly precision so audible in his playing, alongside the brilliance and imagination that always were there in abundance.

Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News

Donohoe’s delivery of the solo part was formidable, crisply articulated, dynamics beautifully judged.

Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

Donohoe always sets the right tone, sometimes – most befittingly – with a wink.


Donohoe is very special. He's a lion of the keyboard, but he's also a poet. From Donohoe you will experience thunder and steel; but you will also experience exquisite lyricism and sensitivity. There's something about his playing that suggests him as the man for this mission…Expect insights galore.

Michael Tumelty, The Herald, Scotland atmosphere of Mozartian delicacy, simplicity and beauty prevailed, was convincingly communicated by Donohoe.


Selected Discography —

Rachmaninoff: Variations on a Theme of Chopin & Chopin Sonatas Nos 2 & 3

Throughout, Donohoe’s approach has a robust honesty and an appealing straightforward feel, with an instinct for the emotional rises and falls

BBC Music Magazine

Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words Vol.2

The pianist’s straightforward temperament and respect for the text emphasise truth over charm...Donohoe’s cogent and articulate annotations bring welcome personal and musical perspectives to this repertoire. In all, a fine and well-engineered release.


Mozart Piano Sonatas Vol. 6

surely only a dedicated ideologue would deny that Donohoe has here found a playing style that feels exactly right for the idiom of the music itself.

BBC Music Magazine

Haydn: Keyboard Works Volume 1

“An arresting start to Peter Donohoe’s new series of Haydn’s complete keybard works on Signum Records…It’s a stunner”

Slipped Disc

Busoni: Elegien, etc.

Stravinsky: Music for Solo Piano and Piano and Orchestra

Musorgsky: Pictures from an exhibition; Ravel: Miroirs; Messiaen: Cantéyodjayâ

Franz Liszt: SONATA IN B MINOR; Frédéric Chopin: SONATA NO. 3 IN B MINOR

See full discography

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