Kenneth van Barthold (nee Taylor, born 10 December 1927, died 16 February 2016) is a classical pianist. He took his mother’s name in 1955.
Kenneth was born in Semarang, Indonesia to an Anglo-Dutch family. In 1936 the family moved to the UK and Kenneth attended Betteshanger School (1936-1941) and later, as Music Scholar, Bryanston School (1941-1946). He was a Gold Medal chorister and sang by Royal command to Queen Mary. In 1940, at the age of 12, he performed his first radio broadcast and his first Concerto appearance was with the Bournemouth orchestra in 1944, aged 16, playing Franck’s Symphonic Variations. In 1948 Kenneth was awarded a British, followed later by a French, Government scholarship to study for four years at the Paris National Conservatoire of Music. He entered the Piano Class of Yves Nat, studied solfège with Georges Becker and had Private Tuition from Paule Maurice (Prix de Rome) in Harmony, Figured Bass, Counterpoint, Fugue and Composition. He is a Lauréat du Conservatoire National de Musique de Paris. On returning to the UK, his performing career was launched at a Wigmore Hall Recital in 1956. His first South Bank recital was in 1971. Kenneth has performed recitals in France, Israel, Canada, Eire and UK. In 1991 he gave the first UK performance of the Piano Sonata by his friend and ex co-student at the Conservatoire, Pierre Max Dubois (Purcell Room) and in 1995 gave the World Première of his Dix Préludes pour Piano dedicated to Kenneth van Barthold (Radio France, Paris).
Apart from his performances on the modern piano of a wide-ranging repertoire ranging from living composers back to the Baroque, Kenneth van Barthold was well known for playing period pianos. He became interested in historical performance practice in the 1970’s. He recorded on the oldest piano in working order, a Cristofori in the Leipzig Museum, and his film for BBC television on the history of the piano is in the archives of the Smithsonian, Steinway and the BBC.
He wrote 21 major documentaries for BBC Television. These outstanding and innovative productions explored the lives and works of composers and musicians in collaboration with many eminent and notable musicians and producers, including Tamas Vasary, Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, Peter Frankl, Shura Cherkassky, Peter Katin, Geoffrey Parsons, Pierre Boulez, Raymond Leppard, Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Roger Norrington, Olivier Messiaen and Ronald Smith. He has also conducted TV interviews with many musicians including Sir Michael Tippett, Henryk Sczering, Sir Anthony Lewis, Rosalind Tureck, Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Charles Groves, Gerald Abraham, Maurice Gendron, Isaac Stern and Martha Argerich. His television broadcasts include: CHOPIN "A Question of Stature" (1963); SCHUMANN; RACHMANINOV; CHOPIN "Fourth Ballade; DEBUSSY "The Cello Sonata"; STRAVINSKI "The New Rhythm of Music"; CHARLES IVES and EDGAR VARESE "The Outsiders"; THE SONS OF BACH; BACH’S BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS; STORY OF THE PIANO "How did it sound to Beethoven?"; SCHUBERT’S "UNFINISHED" FINISHED; MOZART’S PIANO CONCERTI; MAKING A NAME; SUZUKI METHOD; THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE (Omnibus); THE TORTELIER FAMILY; RAVEL; THE WAYS WE MOVE (for the BBC Horizon series); EDINBURGH FESTIVAL 1965; SCRIABIN; BEETHOVEN "The Emperor’s New Clothes"; PIANO RECITAL by Michelangeli; MESSIAEN: A Profile; ALKAN: A Profile; CASALS: A Profile, Critics Award for "Best Documentary 1972"; THE CHOPIN - POTOCKA CORRESPONDENCE.
Kenneth was much in demand as a teacher in the course of his long career. His appointments included Professor of Piano at Trinity College of Music, London (1959-1965). In 1959 aged 31, he was asked to form the Music Department at the City Lit which he developed into the largest music department in the UK. He was appointed Senior Piano Tutor, ILEA (1983–1990). He has conducted Master Classes & Workshops in Canada, Israel and throughout the UK. Since 1966 he has hosted as Piano Tutor the Edinburgh Piano Workshop. This highly intensive and specialized three-week course draws in students from all over the world; participants are a mixture of young professionals, teachers and advanced amateurs. In past years they have come from Russia, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Israel, USA, Canada, Malaysia, and Australia as well as the United Kingdom. At the City Lit he held piano classes for post music college performers and specialist piano teachers. His teaching methods are grounded on a systematic and rational piano technique, which also draws on his performance experience in period ornamentation, articulation and style. He is a firm exponent of group instrumental teaching as practised at the Paris Conservatoire. He has often been invited as a juror for competitions in France, Canada, Hong Kong etc., for example as Membre du Jury International de l’Ecole Normale de Musique (Paris), Concours de Musique du Canada, Montreal and The Recital Division of the Royal Academy of Music (London).
He died in his home in Dorset. He left four children and nine grandchildren.
He co-authored "The Story of the Piano" (BBC Publications 1976) and wrote various articles, reviewed for BBC Music Magazine and including writing programme notes for Promenade Concerts
Mozart Recital - Sonatas K284 and K332 (Decca/Argo)
Chopin Recital - Ballade No.4, Mazurkas, Etudes etc (Decca/Argo)
Schumann Recital - Sonata in E minor, Faschingsschwank, etc (Decca/Argo)
Couronne Compilation - Chopin Nocturne, Fantaisie-Impromptu (Decca)
Liszt Sonata, Chopin 4 Ballades (Darmo)
Hommage à Pierre Max Dubois. Preludes, Sonata etc (Darmo)