Howard Shelley is among the most prominent English pianists of his generation. While he has been closely associated with the works of Rachmaninov, owing to his recordings of the complete works for both solo piano and piano and orchestra, he plays a broad range of repertory that includes twentieth century British music by Alwyn, Vaughan Williams, Tippett, and Howells, and such modern British composers as Brian Chapple, Alan Rawsthorne, and EdwardRead more Cowie. Since 1985 Shelley has also performed in the role of conductor.
Shelley was born in London on March 3, 1950. When he appeared on television in 1971, following his official debut at Wigmore Hall, London, earlier that year, he was already a veteran of the medium, having given his first concert on BBC television at age 10. He would go on to perform several hundred broadcast concerts for the BBC and become one of the best-known pianists ever to the British public.
1971 was also the year he graduated from the Royal College of Music in London. The following year he debuted at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, the first of many such appearances. By this time Shelley possessed an enormous technique to go along with his imaginative interpretive skills. He gravitated toward Rachmaninov in his early career and began recording all his solo piano works for Hyperion Records in 1982, finishing the project within the decade. He has also participated in several volumes in Hyperion's "Romantic Piano Concertos" series.
In 1983 he performed all the Rachmaninov solo piano works at Wigmore Hall, over several days. He began conducting in 1985, and eventually developed a relationship with the London Mozart Players, first becoming its associate conductor in 1990, then its principal guest conductor two years later. He also made numerous guest-conducting appearances throughout England, leading such ensembles as the London Symphony, Royal Philhamonic, and Philharmonia orchestras, as well as several abroad, including the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.
In 1992 he recorded all the Rachmaninov piano concertos for Chandos and also began a major Mozart project, recording all the piano concertos while leading the orchestra from the keyboard. He soon began making strictly orchestral recordings, too, like the 1994 CD of Schubert's Symphonies No. 3 and No. 5. In the new century Shelley maintained his parallel careers as conductor and pianist. He toured the United States in the winter of 2006 playing and guest-conducting Mozart, Dvorák, and many more, and in 2008 began releasing a series of the complete piano sonatas of Muzio Clementi. Read less