Tag Archives: Peter Hill

Peter Hill has solved a musical mystery and I can’t wait to find out how.

From his first telling of this story, the discovery of a new piece by revered composer Olivier Messiaen, through the painstaking examination of pages of the composer’s indecipherable handwriting, and Peter’s subsequent assembling of the piece, I’ve been hooked. This is a tale of dogged detective work, the patient piecing together of a jigsaw of fragments, illuminated by a ‘eureka’ moment in Paris, as he begins to unlock the puzzle not just of the pages in front of him, but of the fact that in 1961, the otherwise prolific Messiaen wrote nothing at all.

In brief, the story is this. About 18 months ago, Peter set aside time to look at some illegible pages in the archive of photocopies he’d gathered between 2001 and 2004 when he was permitted to work among Messiaen’s papers in the composer’s Parisian apartment. He had previously not had time, or perhaps patience, to investigate these pages, but decided, six or seven years on, to see what he could make of them. Excitement built as he started to fathom their content, a musical sketch emerged, a piece took shape, its form beginning to reveal itself to him.  It’s a fascinating tale, but I’m intrigued to hear it told with the music itself. I want to listen to the notes fall into place under Peter’s skilful hands in the Crucible Studio this Saturday and to follow the revelations in the extracts he will play.


Peter is one of the most highly regarded Messiaen scholars on the planet. Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise, is quoted as saying ‘Hill’s major achievement to date is his epic survey of the complete piano music of Messiaen…no pianist in my experience has gone deeper into Messiaen’s world.’ He is, of course, highly acclaimed as a pianist, particularly for his playing of complete cycles of Bach, Schoenberg, Berg and Messiaen, the latter endorsed by the composer himself , declaring ‘Beautiful technique, a true poet: I am a passionate admirer of Peter Hill’s playing”

This will not be a dry, academic event. With Peter’s comprehensive understanding of Messiaen’s work and life, and his particular skill as a pianist in balancing intellect and emotion, the reverse will be true. I think that when he brings the story of his discovery to life, in words and music, from the pages of scribbled handwriting to a substantial piece that adds significantly to Messiaen’s repertoire, there will be sparks in the room, and I, for one, can’t wait.

Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director

Watch videos of Peter talking about and playing short extracts from the piece on Vimeo.

The concert takes place at Sheffield’s Upper Chapel on Saturday 2 November at 7.30pm.

Something new, something old and something…Christmassy Sheffield Autumn Series 2013

I was going to write about our Autumn Series highlights but I’m finding it impossible to choose so here’s a bit about everything…

Let’s start with our wonderful Ensemble 360 who is playing, as ever, both pillars of the repertoire from the likes of Brahms, Dvorak and Mendelssohn as well as embracing other composers that always demand to be heard. I’m personally very much looking forward to their first concert of the season which marks Lutoslawski’s 100th birthday and Wagner’s 200th birthday – if you don’t know Lutoslawski’s Dance Preludes you should definitely check it out!

We’re excited to be joined by Sheffield-based acclaimed author Marina Lewycka to explore why music is such a compelling international language. Born in a refugee camp in Germany, she moved to England at a young age. Her first novel, the unusually titled A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian became a hit in 2005 and three more books have followed since.


Continuing with the Sheffield-based talent; we’re incredibly privileged that Peter Hill has chosen Sheffield to give the world premiere of a newly discovered Messiaen work which he has completed from its incomplete original manuscript. This is ground-breaking work and Peter has kindly agreed to share more about his process in a lecture earlier in the season. Look out for more in the music press and listen out to BBC Radio 3 (who will be recording the concert) in the lead up to the premiere.


Then, moving away from the local genius, we move overseas to Beethoven. Whilst Tim embarks on the homeward journey with the fifth out of eight concerts in his magnificent Beethoven Piano Sonata series, the Elias Quartet take the maiden voyage in a six-concert series of Beethoven String Quartets – well, you can never have too much Beethoven. We’re delighted to welcome them back to what we’ll always see as their home.

Working in partnership with the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet competition, we’re looking forward to welcoming their 2012 winners, the Arcadia String Quartet, to Sheffield. This will be part of their first ever UK tour and one of their short pieces will be MitR’s first introduction to the music of Adrian Pop, a composer from the Arcadia’s home country of Romania.

And that takes us to Christmas (well, there are only 158 shopping days left to go!) and The City Musick launch us head-first into the festivities with traditional Christmas songs and instrumental music from the 17th to 19th centuries.


And all that without even mentioning the incredible Music in the Community work that’s happening as part of the series; Stan and Mabel schools and family concerts, Music Box children’s workshops, Lads, Dads and Grandads vocal workshop and a string masterclass. But more about those anon.