Noel Mewton-Wood

Noel Mewton-Wood

Noel Mewton-Wood (20 November 1922 – 5 December 1953) was an Australian-born concert pianist who achieved international fame on the basis of many distinguished concerto recordings during his short life.

Born in Melbourne, he studied with Waldemar Seidel at the Melbourne Conservatorium until the age of fourteen. After further study at London's Royal Academy of Music, he took private lessons from Artur Schnabel in Italy.

In March 1940, he returned to London for his debut performance at Queen's Hall, performing Beethoven's third piano concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham. He then went on tour in the UK as assisting artist accompanying Viennese tenor Richard Tauber, and later performed in France, Germany, South Africa, Poland, Turkey and Australia.

Mewton-Wood's The Times obituary of 7 December 1953 described his debut performance:

“At once his remarkable control and his musicianship were apparent: the ascending scales in octaves, with which the pianist first enters, thundered out with whirlwind power, but he could summon beautiful cantabile tone for the slow movement and the phrasing of the rondo theme was admirably neat for all the rapidity of the tempo; a true understanding of the relationship in concerto between soloist and orchestra, and of the soloist's part in ensemble, betokened the musician, the potential chamber performer."

Mewton-Wood was a close friend of Benjamin Britten. In 1952-53, while Britten was busy composing his opera Gloriana, he deputized Mewton-Wood to accompany tenor Peter Pears, his partner.

When only 31, Mewton-Wood committed suicide by drinking prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide), apparently blaming himself for the death from a ruptured appendix of William Fedrick, whom he lived with, feeling he had overlooked the early symptoms. The notes written by a friend of Mewton-Wood, John Amis, for the reissue of the Bliss Concerto recording, confirm that Mewton-Wood was gay and was distraught at his lover's tragic death.

Benjamin Britten wrote Canticle III: Still falls the rain for a concert in Mewton-Wood's memory.

In 1962, his old teacher Waldemar Seidel auditioned the 7-year-old Geoffrey Tozer and declared "Noel has come back". Noel Mewton-Wood had died eleven months before Tozer was born.

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Noel Mewton-Wood

Noel Mewton-Wood

Noel Mewton-Wood (20 November 1922 – 5 December 1953) was an Australian-born concert pianist who achieved international fame on the basis of many distinguished concerto recordings during his short life.

Born in Melbourne, he studied with Waldemar Seidel at the Melbourne Conservatorium until the age of fourteen. After further study at London's Royal Academy of Music, he took private lessons from Artur Schnabel in Italy.

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9 albums
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BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 4

Recorded in 1952
Total duration: 32:43

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Utrecht Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr

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BLISS Piano Concerto
Recorded in 1952
Total duration: 37:28

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Utrecht Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr

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CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1

Recorded in Hilversum in 1951
Total duration: 38:39

Noel Mewton-Wood,
piano
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr

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ALBÉNIZ España
BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata No. 8
SHOSTAKOVICH Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings
Recorded in 1941 and 1953
Total duration: 39:29

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Ida Haendel,
violin
Concert Hall Society Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr

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SCHUMANN Piano Concerto
Recorded c.1952
Total duration: 31:54

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra,
conducted by Walter Goehr

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STRAVINSKY Concerto for Piano & Wind Instruments
CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 2
Recorded in 1952 and 1948
Total duration: 51:23 

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Zurich Radio Orchestra
conductor Walter Goehr

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TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1

Recorded in 1952
Total duration: 32:57

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr

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TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 2
Recorded in 1952
Total duration: 33:10

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Winterthur Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr

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TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 3
TCHAIKOVSKY Concert Fantasia

Recorded in 1952
Total duration: 45:34

Noel Mewton-Wood, piano
Winterthur Symphony Orchestra
conducted by Walter Goehr