Death of favoured BBC pianist, 96

Death of favoured BBC pianist, 96


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2020

The English pianist Eric Parkin, much favoured by the BBC for his championship of British composers, has died at a great age. From his radio debut in 1948 to his very late years he was hardly ever off the radio, whether in studio, at the Proms or with his highly successful recordings on the Chandos label.

Parkin, who came from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, won renown as the leading champion of the music of John Ireland. He also played works by Arnold Bax, Geoffrey Bush, Peter Dickinson, David Gow, Kenneth Leighton, E J Moeran and Richard Stoker.

He was a very good pianist who let himself be pigeonholed too easily by BBC producers.



  • Simon Scott says:

    Alfredo Campoli’s pianist

  • Alexander Hall says:

    As Jessye Norman once memorably said, pigeonholes are only ever comfortable for pigeons.

    • Mike Dobson says:

      Sir Malcolm Sargent was a big fan and had Mr Parkin playing Ireland Concerto at three prom concerts in the 50s

  • Greg Bottini says:

    A lovely pianist.
    These clips are so very nice to listen to.
    And his CDs of Chaminade and Poulenc are simply charming (a quality not often heard from most of today’s younger generation of pianists).
    R.I.P., Maestro….

  • Papageno says:

    I wish Horowitz had lived ton 96.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Eric Parkin’s 96 years places him in the class of Lionel Tertis, Pablo Casals, and Rubinstein. Thanks to Greg Bottini for hsi praise of the Chaminade and Poulenc recordings and Parkin’s rare charm; for the several mentions of his long service to British music, and to Simon Scott for remembering Alfredo Campoli, the marvelous violinist Beecham plucked rom a London hotel orchestra to be his concertmaster and soloist.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      You’re welcome, Edgar….
      Like Campoli, Eugene Ormandy was a violinist who early on performed in (and led) salon orchestras and also performed in the pit to accompany silent film and vaudeville acts. Their careers certainly took off in different directions, didn’t they?
      Back to Eric Parkin, now: other than those mentioned above, EP played compositions as wide-ranging as those by Bridge, Copland, Barber, Granados, Roussel, Farnon, and Mayerl. Quite a variety there. And he played them all beautifully! He was a true artist-pianist.
      He will be very much missed.

  • Armchair Bard says:

    There is an extensive and fascinating obituary – behind a paywall, alas – in the Daily Telegraph for 27 October. It ends, a touch gnomically, “In later years he enjoyed watching the television mystery series Cadfael, starring Derek Jacobi.” A private joke there, surely.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      An excellent example of Parkin’s good taste – “Cadfael” was one of the finest British-made mystery programs ever seen here in the USA.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Malcolm Sargent was a good judge of pianists, a modest one himself, a particular friend and sometime student of Benno Moiseiwitsch with whom he championed Delius’s concerto that Moiseiwitsch loved. There’s a rare live record of Sargent discreetly accompanying Maria Callas in arias at a Palace gala.

  • Herbie G says:

    A very sad loss. He neither sought ‘celeb’ status nor stuck to the well-worn popular repertoire. His large recorded legacy covers the works of many less well-known composers – my particular favourite is the Lyrita disc devoted to William Baines. He always gave of his best.

  • Malcolm Riley says:

    Eric will be sadly missed. A true gentleman and a great support. His Billy Mayerl discs (curated by Geoffrey de Coup-Crank) for Priory were a revelation.