Susan Tomes is a leading UK pianist, a rare example of a woman who has achieved several decades as an acclaimed chamber music pianist. In 2013 she was awarded the Cobbett Medal for distinguished services to chamber music.
Born in Edinburgh, she was the first woman to study music at King’s College, Cambridge. She has been at the heart of three internationally admired ensembles: Domus, the Gaudier Ensemble, and the Florestan Trio, winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2000. With these groups she has performed and broadcast all over the world. She is a long-standing participant at the International Musicians’ Seminars in Prussia Cove, Cornwall, where she met many of her chamber music partners. She has made over fifty CDs, many of which have become benchmark recordings, winning Gramophone Awards, Classic CD awards, Diapasons d’Or in France, and Deutsche Schallplattenpreise. At Hyperion Records’ 20th anniversary, Gramophone wrote that ‘Susan Tomes’s playing is always magnetic and concentrated whatever the repertory, a rare gift which she consistently employs not for her own glorification but in the cause of corporate music-making.’ Her recital repertoire focuses particularly on French music, Mozart, Schubert and Schumann; as a soloist, she has recorded Mozart piano concertos and 1920s piano music by the Savoy Hotel’s Billy Mayerl.
Susan is the author of four acclaimed books on performance issues: Beyond the Notes (2004), A Musician’s Alphabet (2006), Out of Silence (2010) and Sleeping in Temples (2014), chosen by several publications as one of the best books of 2014. Her books are studied on ‘performance practice’ courses in various parts of the English-speaking world, and have inspired several PhD research projects. She has served on many international competition juries, is a guest tutor at the European Chamber Music Academy, is on the faculty of ChamberStudio in London, and gives her own masterclass courses as well as appearing as a guest professor at music conservatoires.
Susan is currently engaged on a long-running duo series with Austrian violinist Erich Höbarth. For two years they focused on Mozart, and are now exploring the sonatas of Schubert, with performances at Wigmore Hall in London and most recently at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. Susan is the solo pianist on a record made by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to celebrate Creative Scotland 2012 with the gift of a special CD for every child born in Scotland during the year. Her residency at Perth Concert Hall with the Quatuor Mosaiques in February 2016 earned five-star reviews.
Gramophone Award 1985: Domus piano quartet, for their recording of Fauré piano quartets
Gramophone Award 1995: Domus piano quartet, for their recording of Fauré piano quintets with Anthony Marwood
Gramophone Award 1999: Florestan Trio, for their recording of Schumann piano trios
Classic CD Award 1999: Anthony Marwood and Susan Tomes, for their recording of Dvorak violin and piano duos
Royal Philharmonic Society Award 2000: Florestan Trio for their achievements in chamber music
2013 Cobbett Medal awarded to Susan Tomes by the Worshipful Company of Musicians for distinguished services to chamber music