Since his Mozart K.503 concerto debut in Australia aged twelve, pianist James Brawn has forged his own musical path of discovery, studying with great pianists who can trace their pedagogical lineage back to Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Clara Schumann.
Brawn was born in England but has lived in New Zealand, Australia, China and the USA. Starting piano lessons at age seven, he performed on New Zealand television and won his first awards in Auckland in 1979. He moved to Melbourne the following year, studying through the 1980s with Margaret Schofield (a pupil of Solomon), Ronald Farren-Price (a pupil of Arrau) and Rita Reichman (a pupil of Serkin and Horszowski). He won major prizes at competitions and scholarships, including the Hephzibah Menuhin Award. While still at school, James performed concerti by Mozart, Beethoven, Saint-Saens and Rachmaninoff. He also reached the concerto final of the ABC Young Performers Awards in 1987, leading to concerts with the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony orchestras.
With a major overseas study grant from the Australia Arts Council, Brawn continued to work with Rita Reichman, in Philadelphia, and gained a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, aged 17 in 1988, studying with Frank Wibaut and Christopher Elton, completing both undergraduate and postgraduate study and winning many recital awards including the Beethoven, Romantic and 20th century prizes. He also performed in master classes with great pianists such as András Schiff, Tamás Vásáry, Stephen Kovacevich, Fou Ts’ong and Menahem Pressler, and studied chamber music with members of the Amadeus and Chilingirian Quartets. Aged 19, he won the Keyboard final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. After graduation, James furthered his studies with the Armenian pianist, Nelly Akopian-Tamarina, and the Slovenian pianist, Marina Horak.
His London performances include, amongst others, the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St James’s Piccadilly, St.Martin-in-the-Fields, the Foundling Museum, Blackheath Halls, Regent Hall and The Forge. Overseas he has performed in Paris, New Orleans, Shanghai, Brunei, Hong Kong and Sicily. Other important British venues include Cheltenham Town Hall, Yehudi Menuhin Hall, Chichester, Bristol and Birmingham Cathedrals and Brawn performs regularly for the Helensburgh Music Society. He has also given recitals for the Schubert Society of Britain and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe. Radio broadcasts include ABC Classic FM and 3MBS radio in Australia, RTHK Radio 4, Hong Kong and his Beethoven recordings are being played on NPR stations across the USA. Returning to the UK in 2010 to further his career, Brawn is based in the beautiful English Cotswolds.
In 2012, he began the process of performing and recording the complete Beethoven piano sonatas. The first four volumes of ‘A Beethoven Odyssey’ have been released to exceptional reviews, as have the first 2 volumes of the James Brawn ‘In Recital’ series. These recordings are available on the MSR Classics label – www.msrcd.com. In 2016, Brawn joined the piano faculty of the FaceArt Institute of Music Shanghai. This coming season Mr Brawn will tour the UK, China and Canada in recital and concerto performances. James Brawn is a Steinway Artist. www.jamesbrawn.com