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), Busoni International Competition in Bolzano, Italy (2012), 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), Val Tidone 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. Other recent discs include Stravinsky: Music for Solo Piano and Piano and Orchestra with the Hong Kong Philharmonic (SOMM); a new recording of Shostakovich’s Piano Concertos and Sonatas with the Orchestra of the Swan, and a disc of Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues (both Signum Records), which was described as ‘thoughtful and poignant’ by The Guardian; a disc of Scriabin Piano Sonatas (SOMM) which was called ‘magnificent’ by the Sunday Times; a recording of Witold Maliszewski’s Piano Concerto in B flat minor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates (Dutton Vocalion); and three discs of Prokofiev piano sonatas for SOMM, the third of which was released at the end of April 2016. The first Prokofiev disc was described by Gramophone as ‘devastatingly effective’, declaring Donohoe to be ‘in his element’, and a review in Classical Notes identified Donohoe’s ‘remarkably sensitive approach to even the most virtuosic of repertoire’. His second Prokofiev disc was given 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine, and the third disc was highly praised by The Times, Birmingham Post, and Jessica Duchen. Other recordings include Cyril Scott’s Piano Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Martin Yates (Dutton Vocalion), and Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy on a Theme of John Field with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Martin Yates (also Dutton), for which BBC Music Magazine described him as an ‘excellent soloist’, and Gramophone stated that it ‘compelled from start to finish’.

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. In the United States, his appearances have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Peter Donohoe also performs numerous recitals internationally and continues working with his long-standing duo partner Martin Roscoe, as well as more recent collaborations with artists such as Raphael Wallfisch, Elizabeth Watts and Noriko Ogawa.

Donohoe has worked with many of the world’s greatest conductors: Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Andrew Davis and Yevgeny Svetlanov. More recently he has appeared as soloist with the next generation of excellent conductors: Gustavo Dudamel, Robin Ticciati and Daniel Harding.

Peter Donohoe is an honorary Doctor of Music at seven UK universities and was awarded a CBE for services to classical music in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List.

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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 —

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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