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.
As well as performing, Susan is a champion of the art of the chamber music pianist, illuminating the role and promoting the status of the collaborative pianist over many years in radio talks, newspaper and magazine articles, keynote speeches, seminars, and masterclasses. She is the author of four books on performance issues: Beyond the Notes (2004), A Musician’s Alphabet (2006), Out of Silence (2010) and Sleeping in Temples (October 2014), which has already been a Books of the Year choice, a Christmas Books selection and Editor’s Choice in various journals. Her books are now studied in ‘performance practice’ courses in various parts of the English-speaking world. She has been a guest on the BBC flagship radio programmes, ‘Today’ and ‘Woman’s Hour’. She has served on many international competition juries and is often invited to give masterclasses at music conservatoires. She is a guest tutor at the European Chamber Music Academy, and holds her own masterclasses every year in London, attracting international chamber groups.
Susan is currently engaged on a long-running duo series with the Austrian violinist Erich Höbarth. They focused on Mozart for two years, and are now exploring the sonatas of Schubert. 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.
To book Susan as a speaker, please visit the Speakers’ Bureau at the Ed Victor Agency.
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