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2021 Recitals announced – from Bach to Poulenc

It will be marvellous to be back at Stowe soon, and our tutors have now announced their recitals.

First we’ll hear from Karl Lutchmayer, who will play Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses, Op.54, Alkan’s Le Festin d’Esope Op 39 No 12, Busoni’s  Variations on a Chopin Prelude,  and Liszt’s Totentanz.

Christine Stevenson will be next, performing Beethoven – 6 Variations on the aria “Nel cor più non mi sento”   WoO 70, Schubert – Sonata in A Minor D784, Liszt - Chapelle de Guillaume Tell from Années de pèlerinage – Première année – Suisse, J S Bach – Andante from Sonata in D minor, BWV 964, Brahms – Sarabande WoO 5 No 1, Felix Mendelssohn – Fantasie Op 16 No 2 and three Liszt transcriptions –

Schubert/Liszt – Wohin? No 5 From Müllerlieder von Franz Schubert, S.565, Schumann/Liszt – Widmung No 1 from Myrthen, S. 566 and  Wagner/Liszt – Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde.

Daniel Hill starts his recital with Schumann’s Papillons Op 2, and then will be joined  by baritone Brian White in Schumann’s wonderful song cycle, Dichterliebe.  He’ll conclude his programme with Liszt’s  Funérailles.

Finally – a Poulenc bonanza! Ann Martin-Davis is joined by Brian White in Poulenc’s Le Bestiaire for voice and piano, and then she joins forces with Graham Fitch in a performance of  Poulenc’s Piano Sonata for Four Hands. And she has other Poulenc treats in store ….



Pictured above – Poulenc at the piano.


New Year – welcome back to Stowe!

New Year 2021 – welcome to Stowe!  What’s in store for you at Summer School this year?


Graham Fitch onlineWell, let’s quickly look back at 2020 when we moved to the Internet – a real success!

Karl LutchmayerIt was a pleasure to welcome pianists from England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, India and Australia to the course.

In advance of the course, staff prepared ‘how-to’ videos for course members so we could all get to grips with settings and recordings. Tutors gave free try-out sessions on Zoom.

In August, masterclasses went online, observers zoomed easily from class to class, we met over coffee in the break-out rooms and over a drink at Karl’s Virtual Drinks Party. Staff presentations were pre-recorded and available on our YouTube channel, as were the staff recitals. Brian White magically knitted together remotely recorded accompaniments plus his vocal line for the Accompaniment Class, and student concerts were similarly created  by combining separately recorded performances into memorable videos.

So what lies ahead? We have the experience and expertise to go online if needed, monitoring government guidelines and keeping options open for a virtual or hybrid course where Observers might join us. But in August 2021 we hope to be back at our glorious home in Buckinghamshire in person as it’s an experience not to be missed. Having spent so much time online in recent months, we all appreciate that nothing can fully replace the live experience of ‘being there’.

Staff recitals will include works by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Alkan, Liszt, Brahms,Busoni, Poulenc and many more, including a performance of Schumann’s ‘Dichterliebe’ song cycle.



Piano Matters topics for 2021 will include ‘Haydn in London – a Walkthrough of the C major English Sonata’, ‘Are You All Fingers and Thumbs?  A Guide to Fingering’, ‘Why We Went to Weimar – The Altenburg and its Visitors’, ‘Memorisation and Deep Learning Techniques’, and ‘Ronald Stevenson – the Man and his Music’.



The theme for 2021 is The Mendelssohns’ including the music of Felix and his sister, Fanny (below), whose music was published after her marriage under the name of Fanny Hensel; as a non-obligatory option, participants are invited to explore music by this talented brother and sister. Felix’s music was played by Queen Victoria when she visited Stowe house in 1845.felixandfanny-300x250

There will be a class for Piano Accompaniment with Daniel Hill and baritone Brian White. There are six thirty-minute solo recital opportunities – Platforms – available for a modest charge, and three student concerts for solo or duet items.

And there will be time to explore the grounds, play a round of golf on the 9-hole golf course (green fees apply), have a game of tennis (please bring your own racquets and tennis balls) or, for an additional fee, enjoy a guided tour of Stowe House.

As usual, each participant will be allotted three half-hour masterclass slots during the week. All are welcome to visit other masterclasses to observe. Private lessons can be booked with each of the tutors.


 There are just 3 places left in classes, plus room for observers – so don’t wait! Whether we are at Stowe or online, you can be sure of a warm welcome at the Summer School for Pianists. Contact our administrator:  or phone 07853 415393.

UPDATE – Just 3 class places left!


Play On – and Be Part of the Picture! Summer School for Pianists goes Virtual in 2020

It’s official – the Summer School for Pianists will be online in 2020!

Since early in March,  we at  the Summer School  have been exploring ways to deliver this year’s course  amidst the current pandemic. With concerns re hand hygiene on pianos, travel restrictions, social distancing, large gatherings cancelled, National Trust properties and schools closed, vulnerable people being advised to stay in and the financial implications of closed  businesses, there has been a lot to consider. In May last year we wrote to you with information about local accommodation in Buckingham and details of how to travel to Stowe, confident of our first visit to that wonderful venue. This year, the only certainty is uncertainty.

We are also delighted that, after contacting many course members  individually, we have had overwhelming support for a move to a digital platform for this year’s course. Here’s how we plan to do it.

Many of us have learnt over the past weeks how to video-conference using Skype and Zoom, and it is Zoom we will be using. For those of us who would appreciate a refresher course on Zoom, a series of 6 videos made by our tutors and Brian, and sent out to all course members between now and the course,  will demonstrate how to get the best out of Zoom for music. And in the first of them, here is Karl to introduce the course –


Bearing in mind that unknown future Public Health restrictions may still make demands on our time and space, Summer School classes will run at two fixed points each day from Saturday 15 August to Thursday 20th August: at 10 -11.30am and from 2-3.30 pm. You will be timetabled as usual for three slots during the week in a Zoom masterclass, to which you will be invited in an email from your tutor. If your connectivity is likely to be unreliable – and we all have those issues at times – you can pre-record your piece to be submitted to the tutor, who will play it during the class via a ‘shared screen’ and then comment. Come and go as you wish – and we will include the opportunity to observe different classes and tutors.


Each day you will receive an email from Brian giving you the link to both a tutor Recital and a tutor Piano Matters presentation, available exclusively to Summer School members via our private YouTube channel. The tutors and Brian have planned a fantastic feast of music by composers including Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert/Liszt, Schumann, Chopin, Debussy, Scriabin, Ravel, Poulenc, Mompou … and many more.  include presentations about the Music of Ravel, Beethoven’s harmonic language, Graded Examinations, Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu, and Practice Makes Perfect – or Does It? Click on the links at a time of your choosing to enjoy the recital and the presentation. There are opportunities for course membersto give a Platform Recital for a modest charge – pianists are welcome to pre-record/film their recitals, which we will circulate, and which can be enjoyed in the same way. For the Accompanists’ Class, Brian and Daniel Hill are planning ways to present the suggested repertoire.


Fancy a coffee? Join us for a virtual coffee at 11.30 each day, for a chat and a catch-up. And maybe we can meet for a drink later in the evening … We’re also thinking about moving last year’s hugely popular Quiz to an online format .


The climax of our week is the class members’ concerts. Again, we invite you to film or record your piece well in advance, perhaps on Soundcloud or on your phone (Ann Martin-Davis is preparing a video showing how to do that), submit it to Brian, and the recordings/videos will be circulated on Wednesday and Thursday of the week for us all to enjoy when we have the opportunity. On Friday we’ll meet for the 2021 briefing.


So what does it cost? Without having to cover Stowe’s charges for catering and accommodation, we are able to reduce our fees to a total of £250 per class member – that’s a balance of £70 on top of the deposit. For Observers, who may attend any class during the week without performing, and who will have access to the tutor recitals, the Accompanists’ Class, the Piano Matters presentations, the student concert items, the platforms and to all the social events online, there is no extra charge; the price remains at £180, the deposit.


The situation we all find ourselves in is not of our making, and not of our choosing. We long for the opportunity to be together again, but in the meantime, we have worked hard towards finding the best solution in the current circumstances. In Zoom experiments among the trustees, tutors and Brian, and with some of the course members, it has been heartening to hear each other playing the piano, and to see each other in our homes in the ‘gallery view’ on the screen.


We now invite all of you to play on – and to be a part of the picture.

With best wishes,

Christine and Karl


PS For an introduction to Zoom, there are many YouTube videos available.


Here’s a short, basic one –


And for a simple guide to Zoom music lessons from harpist/pianist Ann Crosby Gaudet –


Summer School 2020 – join us as we celebrate Beethoven 250

170px-Beethoven_3After a sell-out course in 2019, the Summer School for Pianists’ 2020 course promises another week of superlative music, with masterclasses, student concerts and tutor recitals, plus presentations on subjects as diverse as ‘Practice Makes Perfect – Or Does It? ‘  ‘Solving Problems in Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu’ and ‘The Music of Maurice Ravel.’  To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the 2020 theme is ‘Byways of Beethoven’;  participants are invited to choose repertoire from the lesser known works of Beethoven, such as those prefixed with WoO rather than those with opus numbers. And there’ll be a talk on Beethoven’s harmonic language – ‘The Lost Chord – and How to Find it. Beethoven’s Harmonic Clues.’

With good food, good company and the surrounding beauty of Stowe in gardens landscaped by Capability Brown, an amazing  week of musical inspiration awaits. Places are being snapped up, so don’t wait – scroll down for contact information and book your place now.

And if you’d like a taster of what is in store – hear five of our delegates talking about what makes the course so special …


Following the Royal Footsteps – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visit Stowe

This year marks the bicentenaries of the births of Queen Victoria, a keen pianist, and of her husband Prince Albert, who together visited Stowe in 1845, staying for three days, Victoria practised Mendelssohn’s music on a ‘horizontal’  piano there – a grand.  The video below re-enacts their visit:



You too can follow her footsteps, practise the piano, and enjoy the beauties of this wonderful building and the grounds at Stowe.  There is currently one place left on our course – scroll down for details and book your place today!