Peter Hurford

Biography

Born: November 22, 1930; Minehead, Somerset  
Trained in both music and law, Peter Hurford has enjoyed an enviable reputation for both his organ playing and his musical scholarship. The latter has produced not only revised ideas about performance of early music, but also different notions about the construction of the instruments upon which such music ought to be played. His extensive recordings for the Decca label (earlier, London Records in the United States) have passed into the realm of Read more the legendary and his live performances have attracted positive reviews, as well as stimulating numerous discussions regarding performance practice and the art of organ building.

After initial studies with Harold Darke, the famous and much-respected English organist and composer, Hurford read both music and law at Jesus College, Cambridge University, graduating with dual degrees. Through study in Paris with the blind French organist André Marchal, Hurford explored the music of the Baroque period, with a particular emphasis on J.S. Bach and the French masters, and he acquired something of his teacher's brilliance as an improviser. His own singular notions of authentic performing style also took form at that time and were soon regularly implemented before the public once he had received an appointment as music master at St. Albans Abbey in 1958. There, he experimented, rebuilt the organ to comply with his convictions, and soon began to attract the attention of other English organists unsatisfied with the traditional and often heavy-handed Baroque style customarily heard in English churches. By 1963, Hurford's stature made possible the immediate success of the International Organ Festival he devised for St. Albans. There, organists and organ scholars were able to gather to hear and discuss performances and share scholarly findings regarding performance style, registration, repertory, and audience building. Winners of competitions at the St. Albans Festival have included such international virtuosos as Gillian Weir and Thomas Trotter. Many a competitor counted himself fortunate to have received an autographed copy of Hurford's recordings of Bach's complete organ works. After decades at St. Albans, Hurford resigned to fulfill the demand for solo performances. By that time, his recordings had made his name a familiar one even to those who had not heard him in live performance. In addition to his concert appearances, Hurford began to devote time to teaching and made himself a welcome visiting scholar in numerous venues, especially in England and the United States. After having worked out his ideas during several decades of lecturing and performance, Hurford assembled them in written form in his book Making Music on the Organ, published in 1988. The simple, direct title conceals a wealth of carefully considered issues and effective solutions to them. Hurford also achieved some renown as a composer of organ works and choral pieces. Mostly dating from his St. Albans years, some of them are flowingly lyrical while others are joyously animated. All reflect Hurford's skill and inclinations as an improviser. Hurford's largest recording project was putting on disc the complete organ works of Bach, a project that began in the 1970s. The full set is still available (now in remastered sound) along side a smaller, two-disc set of highlights. Another double-disc set of organ masses by Couperin is also a seminal issue. Hurford's often-brisk tempi and variety of registration decidedly changed organ performance; both sets demonstrate why. Read less
Browse 1-16 of 16 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Shakespeare in Music & Words
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002488902 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Gerald Finzi,  Charles Gounod,  Nino Rota  ... 
    Performer:  Amy Dickson,  Renée Fleming,  André Rieu,  Jennifer Vyvyan  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Nicholas Collon,  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Ernest Ansermet  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Aurora Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 2.
    EMI Eminence - The Original Jacket Collection [50-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 393872 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  David Nolan,  Jonathan Small,  George Malcolm,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Anton Rickenbacher,  Vernon Handley,  George Guest,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cambridge St. John's College Choir  ... 
    CD: $154.99
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  • 3.
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001708002 Release Date: 07/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Pascal Rogé
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    CD: $6.99
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  • 4.
    Air: Best of Bach
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 82151 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Josef Suk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Richard Egarr  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir David Willcocks,  Paul Tortelier,  Philip Ledger  ... 
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  • 5.
    Essential Bach
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 95424 Release Date: 02/23/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Philip Pickett,  Catherine Latham,  Iona Brown,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugen Jochum,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Wolfgang Gönnenwein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
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  • 6.
    Best Wedding 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64262 Release Date: 06/16/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Markus Klinko,  Ian Brown,  Christopher van Kampen,  Susan Tomes  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Reginald Kilbey,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nash Ensemble,  Vienna String Sextet Members,  Ensemble Berlin  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 7.
    Ultimate Classical Relaxation - The Essential Masterpieces
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001079002 Release Date: 03/11/2008   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Tomaso Albinoni  ... 
    Performer:  Alicia De Larrocha,  Neil Black,  Tess Miller,  Carmel Kaine  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Münchinger,  Sir Neville Marriner,  András Schiff,  Thurston Dart  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Chamber Orchestra of Europe  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 8.
    Poulenc: Orchestral And Choral Works / Dutoit
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000882302 Release Date: 05/15/2007   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Peter Hurford,  François Le Roux,  Muriel Pouzenc  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  French National Orchestra,  French Radio Choir  ... 
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  • 9.
    Saint-Saëns, Poulenc / Hurford, Dutoit
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000837502 Release Date: 02/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Lovers' Adagios
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000615202 Release Date: 02/14/2006   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Joaquin Rodrigo,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Maurice Hasson,  Henryk Szeryng,  Marisa Robles  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Charles Dutoit,  Herbert von Karajan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $23.99
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  • 11.
    Glorious Pipes - Organ Music / Dupré, Cochereau, Et Al
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000310102 Release Date: 08/10/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Charles-Marie Widor,  Olivier Messiaen,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Ton Koopman,  Simon Preston,  Pierre Cochereau,  Thomas Trotter  ... 
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  • 12.
    The Essential Wedding Collection
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 000233302 Release Date: 05/11/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Andrew Wright,  Francis Lai,  Bryan Adams,  Giorgio Moroder  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Kiri Te Kanawa,  Peter Hurford,  Richard Farnes,  Stephen Cleobury  ... 
    Conductor:  Nick Ingman,  Michael Kamen,  Julius Rudel,  Wyn Morris  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,  Seattle Symphony Orchestra,  Utah Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    Great Romantic Organ Works / Peter Hurford
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 4667422 Release Date: 06/01/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Léon Boëllmann,  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck,  Louis Vierne  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    On sale! $24.98
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  • 14.
    40 Famous Marches
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 466241 Release Date: 02/08/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Sir Arthur Bliss,  Sir William Walton,  Carl Nielsen  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Simon Preston,  Carlo Curley
    Conductor:  Richard Bonynge,  Bernard Herrmann,  Roger Norrington,  Herbert Blomstedt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  National Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Bach: Great Organ Works / Peter Hurford
    Label: London/Decca Double Decker   Catalog: 443485 Release Date: 02/14/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 16.
    Saint-Saëns: Symphony no 3, Carnival of the Animals / Dutoit
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 430720 Release Date: 04/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Cristina Ortiz,  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
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