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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 1-25 of 36 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    111 Classics for Christmas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002179902 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Leopold Mozart,  Johnny Marks,  John Frederic Coots  ... 
    Performer:  Helen Donath,  Anna Reynolds,  Christa Ludwig,  Maria Teresa Garatti  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Karl Richter,  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 2.
    100 Best Organ Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 332452 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jeremiah Clarke,  Dietrich Buxtehude,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Nicolas Kynaston,  Nicholas Kynaston,  Noel Rawsthorne,  Lionel Rogg  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Georges Prêtre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Menuhin Festival Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservato  ... 
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  • 3.
    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  ... 
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  • 4.
    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
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  • 5.
    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 [Classical Keyboards] Egarr  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Sir David Willcocks,  Paul Tortelier,  Philip Ledger  ... 
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  • 6.
    Trumpet Voluntary - Music For Organ And Brass / Hurford
    Label: Argo   Catalog: 433451 Release Date: 04/04/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Henry Purcell,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jean-François Dandrieu  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Laird Brass Ensemble
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  • 7.
    Bach: Organ Works Vol 3 / Peter Hurford
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 421617 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 8.
    Essential Bach
    Label: Emi 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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  • 9.
    Saint-Saens:
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 410201 Release Date: 12/16/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Montreal Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    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  ... 
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  • 11.
    Mendelssohn: Organ Works / Peter Hurford
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414420 Release Date: 02/18/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 12.
    Bach: Organ Concertos / Hurford, Hickox, Northern Sinfonia
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425479 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Northern Sinfonia
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  • 13.
    Baroque Organ Music - Peter Hurford
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414496 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Stanley,  William Walond,  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck,  Giovanni B. Pescetti  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 14.
    Romantic Organ Music / Peter Hurford
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 410165 Release Date: 10/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  César Franck,  Sigfrid Karg-Elert,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 15.
    Mozart: Church Sonatas / Hurford, Amsterdam Mozart Players
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 421297 Release Date: 09/02/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Henk Rubingh,  Wim Straesser,  Brian Pollard,  Margaret Urquhart  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Amsterdam Mozart Players
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  • 16.
    Handel: Organ Concertos Vol 2 / Hurford, Rifkin
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417560 Release Date: 06/04/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Handel: Organ Concertos, Vol 1 / Hurford, Rifkin
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 414604 Release Date: 06/04/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Joshua Rifkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra
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  • 18.
    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  ... 
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  • 19.
    Peter Hurford - Organ Favorites
    Label: London/Decca Jubilee   Catalog: 425013 Release Date: 01/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Charles-Marie Widor,  Henry Purcell,  Herbert Murrill  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 20.
    Poulenc: Piano Concerto, Etc / Dutoit, Rogé, Deferne, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436546 Release Date: 11/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc
    Performer:  Pascal Rogé,  Sylviane Deferne,  Peter Hurford
    Conductor:  Charles Dutoit
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Hindemith: Organ Sonatas / Peter Hurford
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 417159 Release Date: 10/16/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hugo Distler,  Augustinus F Kropfreiter,  Paul Hindemith
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 22.
    Buxtehude: Organ Works  / Peter Hurford
    Label: London/Decca Serenata Series   Catalog: 430262 Release Date: 07/09/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dietrich Buxtehude
    Performer:  Peter Hurford
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  • 23.
    Krebs: Chorales & Fantasias / Peter Hurford, Et Al
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 430208 Release Date: 06/11/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Ludwig Krebs
    Performer:  Peter Hurford,  Michael Laird,  Neil Black,  Michael Thompson  ... 
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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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