Tyler Hay, pianst

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

Initially, my Granddad John was my big musical influence. He was a classically trained cocktail pianist and played to a very high standard. He began teaching me when I was 6 years old and around that time he introduced me to his favourite musician, the wonderful American cocktail and jazz pianist Carmen Cavallaro. He has remained a huge influence on me ever since.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I have always been heavily absorbed in my love for music and I suppose this has to be anyone’s greatest influence. However, I think that my 5 years spent at the Purcell School were life changing for me and my career. The opportunities were like nothing I had ever experienced before and the many musical characters I spent my time with will now always be a part of my life.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Aside from tackling complex repertoire, my biggest challenge has always been with maintaining my confidence. It can be a tough self-battle with the number of world class musicians around today and regularly competing against them can be mentally draining. The most important thing to remember is always the music.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I am very proud of having played Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Sonata to a high standard at the Wigmore Hall several years ago and I remember playing a strong programme for a lunchtime concert in Didsbury when I first joined the Royal Northern College of Music. Beethoven’s Sonata in E flat Major op 27 no1 and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit were among the programme.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Well I have to include the previously-mentioned Rachmaninoff Sonata. Beethoven Sonata in E Major op 109 and Scriabin’s Sonata no 5 would be high up on the list. I am also generally comfortable with performing Liszt and Messiaen, two of my favourite composers. Mozart must be my absolute favourite and it seems to suit me well.

You have released an album of piano music by the late John Ogdon. Tell us what drew your to Ogdon’s music and why you decided to make the recording…..

John Ogdon is one of my most valuable musical heroes. I have always adored the excitable, poetical and intellectual playing he so often produced at his best. As a little known composer, I was intrigued by his own recordings of several of his works and then as a student of the Royal Northern College of Music, I had the opportunity to look at his manuscripts in the college’s archive. This coincided perfectly with another opportunity to record some material for Piano Classics and so the project was undertaken to study Ogdon’s work in great detail. I am tremendously grateful to the Ogdon family for their total support in the project. As for the compositions themselves, I find them to be generally of very high quality. The most important pieces are maximalist romantic works, very much in a similar manner to Sorabji and Busoni. There are also lots of other musical influences apparent from Ogdon’s own colossal repertoire. Personally, I hear quite a bit of Tippett. His music is a marvellous collection of ideas and colours that fully explore pianistic textures and effects and the musical language with which he chose to write is often easily accessible.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I think it is important for young musicians to explore a very wide variety of repertoire at all times. There should not really be any specialising going on until later in a career. Therefore, I always try to maintain a varied selection of works both from the standard repertoire and also one of two from the long grass of piano music. There is a tremendous amount of wonderful repertoire that simply never gets played or heard.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Wigmore Hall, purely for the instrument. I played Liszt’s Les Jeux d’Eau a la Villa d’Este on it last year which is a notoriously difficult work to control perfectly. The piano did the work for me in a way I have never felt before. I sat back and just enjoyed it.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Now this of course depends entirely on repertoire.

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Samson Francois, John Ogdon, Alfred Brendel, Krystian Zimmerman.

Carlos Kleiber, Pinchas Zukerman, Jessye Norman, Ian Bostridge, Rachel Podger.

There are too many to even begin to name. This is merely a few.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Playing Ravel’s Concerto for Left Hand at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2013.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To be able to always perform (privately or publicly) with no inhibitions, total conviction and with absolute love. Ego should not come into it. I think this is what all serious musicians are trying to achieve.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Practice hard at your instrument and equally hard away from it. Always ask questions to your teachers and to yourself in order to feed your imagination but don’t be overly hard on yourself. Life is too short for that and there are lot worse things happening in the world! Generally, play the music you love the most and always remember to recognise your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My idea of perfect happiness is probably sitting comfortably with a good friend and a glass of single malt, listening to a piece of Mozart or Schubert chamber music and knowing that I don’t have any reason to be up early the next day!


Tyler Hay’s recording of piano music by John Ogdon is available now. It was recorded in the presence of Ogdon’s widow Brenda Lucas, who provided the manuscripts and valuable information as to the performance of the music. More information


Tyler Hay was born in 1994 in Kent and began learning the piano at the age of 6. He studied with the Head of Keyboard, Andrew Haigh at Kent Music Academy for 3 years before gaining a place to study at the Purcell School for Young Musicians in 2007 where he received a scholarship from the Government’s Music and Dance Scheme and studied the piano with Tessa Nicholson. He has now completed his studies at the Royal Northern College of Music where he received a full scholarship and was the keyboard departments ABRSM scholar. He has studied with the Head of Keyboard, Graham Scott and renowned British pianist, Professor Frank Wibaut. Before completing his 4th year in June 2016, Tyler won the esteemed Gold Medal competition at the Royal Northern and played in the prize winner’s concert at Wigmore Hall in the Spring of 2017. He has also received a scholarship covering all fees to study at the Royal College of Music in 2017, where he studied with South African pianist, Niel Immelman and now continues with British pianist, Gordon Fergus-Thompson.

Tyler has become a virtuoso pianist who enjoys tackling some of the most demanding works in the repertoire. He has performed Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Sonata at Wigmore Hall and Cadogan Hall, Scriabin’s 5th Sonata at the Southbank’s Purcell Room and as a result of winning the Senior Concerto Competition at the Purcell School, he played Ravel’s Concerto for Left Hand Alone at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Spring, 2013. Tyler is proud to have successfully organised a full evening recital at the Purcell School as a charity event, raising close to £2000 for the Watford Peace Hospice in Summer, 2012. He has also achieved a full performance of Chopin’s 24 Etudes in Blackburn, 2014. Most recently, Tyler won first prize in the keyboard section of the Royal Overseas League Competition in February 2016 and also went on to win first prize in the Liszt Society Competition in November. CDs of Liszt’s piano music and John Ogdon’s unpublished works will both be released in the Spring of 2018 under the Piano Classics label.

In 2012, Tyler won the £5000 Fenton Award from the Purcell School as a scholarship for furthering his musical education and as well as having performed in South Africa, Spain, Italy and Germany, Tyler continues to play solo recitals, chamber recitals and Concertos throughout the UK.

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