Roger Woodward

Born on 20 December 1942, the Australian pianist Roger Woodward trained with Alexander Sverensky, furthering his studies in London and Warsaw. To the benefit of the composers he befriended (if not the instruments he worked), his strength as a transcendental champion of the radical avantgarde - Boulez, Barraque, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Messiaen, Takemitsu, Penderecki, Feldman, Cage - was developed early. He never abandoned the grand tonal masters, though. His analogue RCA recordings of Beethoven, Brahms and Shostakovich (the 24 Preludes and Fugues) were committed events of their time - despite many finding what he had to say more controversial than comforting. His performances still challenge. In 1984-85, claiming that 'few understand Chopin's genuine inheritance from Mozart and Bach, his real musical worth and originality with large forms,' he presented all Chopin's works in a series of sixteen recitals - at Richter's invitation playing the three sonatas at the Pushkin Festival in Moscow. He was appointed an OBE in 1980.  AO