John Bell Young

American pianist, music critic and author John Bell Young was born in New York City on 8 July 1953. His father was a native American Cherokee, and an amateur pianist and inventor.

John Bell Young studied music, Russian and philosophy at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and later at Mannes College of Music. His many teachers included Constance Keene, Benjamin Kaplan, Claudio Arrau, Shura Cherkassky, John Browning, Vladimir Feltsman, Eugene List, Garrick Ohlsson and Jean-Michel Damase.

He was best known for his performances of Scriabin, and his writing for various publications including The Tower of Babel, Fanfare Magazine, St Petersburg Times, The American Record Guide, Opera News and also at this online magazine's predecessor, Music & Vision. He had an enormous ego, a chip on his shoulder, and penned a series of venomous and bullying letters, often in public, to perceived 'enemies', including, on one occasion, to M&V's Keith Bramich.

Young suffered a stroke in 2013, which ended his playing career, and he died, alone with his dog, in early April 2017, at his home in Brattleboro, Vermont, aged sixty-three. His death was recorded on 8 April, but he is thought to have died some days previously.

Articles by John Bell Young

Remembering Constance Keene (1921-2005): an appreciation

Nicolai Lomov - an appreciation

Eric Le Van plays Scriabin mazurkas. '... always elegant, meticulously adjudicated, and discreetly inflected.'

Jerome Rose plays Schubert. '... surely among the finest readings on record ...'

Marianna Rashkovetsky plays Chopin. '... luscious tone and interpretive ardency.'

The International Keyboard Institute and Festival

Slåttebrekk plays Schumann. '... huge-hearted, compelling and structurally intelligible ...'

Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano. '... an energetic undercurrent that sets fire to virtually every phrase.'

Music by Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. '... spirited, inventive and charming ...'

Juliane Banse and András Schiff perform songs by Debussy and Mozart. '... a smart and authoritative singer ...'

Stephen Isserlis and Stephen Hough play Rachmaninov and Franck. '... the rapport between Mr Isserlis and Mr Hough is on the order of the clairvoyant.'

A new release from the Nietzsche Music Project, examined. '... intelligible and convincing.'

One hundred years on, John Bell Young provides a critical appraisal of legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz

The music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk. '... unimpeachable authority and breathtaking virtuosity ...'

BBC Legends, passing its one hundredth release, is appreciated

Sarasa, a new American baroque ensemble, discovered. '... vigorous, gutsy and vivacious playing ...'

Awadagin Pratt and the St Lawrence String Quartet play Bach. 'Mr Pratt should really take some time off to study ...'

John Bell Young tells his story of collaboration with British actor Michael York

Argerich plays Schumann. 'Ms Argerich and company pay glowing tribute to the composer's most celebrated chamber works.'

John Bell Young listens to Evgeny Kissin's Mussorgsky

The singing of Marcelo Álvarez. '... in the refined and complex world of art music, intuition is hardly enough ...'

John Bell Young listens to Kuschnerova playing Scriabin

A unique recording of Russian pianist Samuel Feinberg

Immeasurably sophisticated. 'Mr Sperry is not only up to the challenge, but transcends it in these consistently magical performances.' The Songs of Francis Poulenc

Eclatant, Lumineux. 'Mr Bekhterev emerges as one of the greatest Scriabin interpreters of all.' Boris Bekhterev plays Scriabin

Discreet pleasures. '... incomparable authority and elegance ...' Earl Wild plays Hahn's 'Le Rossignol éperdu'

An overview of the recorded music of Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)

Magisterial presence. '... a performance that is at once radiant, powerful and precise.' Garnet Ungar plays Brahms

Immanent power. '... a musician's musician, one who harvests a composition for its intimacy and expressive nuance.' Walter Hautzig plays dances for the piano

Incomparable performances. '... refined music making ...' Pola Baytelman plays Albéniz and Ginastera

Persuasively delivered. 'She is most compelling in the German literature ...' A Renée Fleming and Jean-Yves Thibaudet recital

with John Bell Young

with John Bell Young

On top of the notes. '... an ordinary, competent piano player.' A view of pianist Lang Lang

Piano masterpieces. '... these performances are as compelling as they are touching.' A recital by the young Texan pianist Roger Wright

An all-consuming philosophical and spiritual agenda - John Bell Young writes in defence of Scriabin

John Bell Young explores the best in Slavic Song

John Bell Young takes a critical look at a two-CD survey of her studio and concert recordings.

Articles about John Bell Young

Jerome Rose - In the build-up to New York's International Keyboard Institute and Festival, Richard Meszto writes about the festival's founder

Punchy and Informative - John Bell Young's survey of the Beethoven symphonies, read by Gerald Fenech

CD Spotlight. Return journey - A Richard Strauss melodrama, reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... a fine performance from an actor of wide experience ...'

A new 'Enoch' - John Bell Young tells his story of collaboration with British actor Michael York

Editor's inbox - a selection of letters from our readers