Paul Roberts is an exceptional musician, a fine and deeply sensitive pianist, teacher and an author of the greatest distinction. His books on Debussy and Ravel are quite simply the most outstanding and perceptive I have read. I felt privileged to review the Ravel book recently in the Gramophone magazine. Bryce Morrison
Pianist, writer, lecturer, inspiring teacher – and a leading authority on the music of Debussy and Ravel – Paul Roberts has earned the admiration of audiences, critics and fellow professionals world wide. ‘Paul Roberts’ excellence as a writer on music is matched by his superb talents as a pianist,’ the renowned American pianist Richard Goode has written. ‘I know of no other figure in the musical world who combines so impressively the roles of scholar and performer.’ Harold Gray, the founder of Portland Piano International, and director until his retirement in 2013, has observed: ‘His communicative abilities, whether as performer, writer or teacher, are without equal.’ Invited every year to the summer festival of PPI, since its inception in 1999, Paul Roberts has established a unique profile in Portland, where he regularly performs, gives master classes and private tuition.
In Europe Paul Roberts is the artistic director of the international summer school for pianists Music at Albignac, in southern France. In London he teaches at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship (FGS). He has recently been appointed an Associate Research Fellowship at the Guildhall, and is currently researching his next book, Reading Liszt, in which he will illuminate the literary inspiration underlying many of Liszt’s major piano works.
His acclaimed Reflections: The Piano Music of Maurice Ravel (Amadeus, 2012) followed two books on Debussy: a biography, Debussy (Phaidon, 2008) and Images: The Piano Music of Claude Debussy (Amadeus, 1996). Images has become a seminal text on the subject. ‘It is a complete picture of Debussy’s poetic world,’ Richard Goode has written, ‘and is one of the few indispensable books on music that I know.’
Recordings include Debussy’s Images Books 1 and 2, Préludes Books 1 and 2, and Estampes; a DVD lecture-recital Mists, Fairies and Fireworks on Debussy’s Preludes (Amadeus Press); and lectures for television, from the keyboard, of La mer and Ravel’s Bolero (Medici TV), which have been seen all over the world. Recordings of Ravel and Liszt are in the offing. ‘Roberts doesn’t play like an Englishman,’ wrote a critic for BBC Music Magazine on the release of his first Debussy disc. ‘Space, concentration and fire take their turns in this fine start to a Debussy cycle. He characterises directly and, at speed, fiercely. In slower music there is unhurried poise and fluidity.’
Among extensive appearances throughout the United States Paul Roberts has been a guest of the Juilliard School in New York, the Peabody Institute, the Golandsky Institute, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the University of Washington and Portland Piano International. He has presented at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York. He plays regularly and gives master classes in Sweden, Denmark, France, Spain, Singapore and Australia. In London he has made frequent appearances at the Wigmore Hall and has recorded for the BBC.