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John Ogdon (1937 - 1989)

John Ogdon’s father was an English teacher and amateur musician who spent three years in a psychiatric institution due to a mental breakdown. His youngest child, John, began to play the piano at the age of five and when he was six the family moved to Manchester where John was enrolled at the Royal Northern College of Music to study piano with Iso Elinson and composition with Richard Hall. Ogdon’s parents sent him to Manchester Grammar School at the age of ten and during these years he voraciously read music scores from the library forming a vast knowledge of the repertoire, much of which he retained in his extraordinary memory.

At the age of sixteen Ogdon returned to the Royal Northern College of Music studying piano with Claude Biggs and composition with Thomas Pitfield. During these years he came into contact with the Manchester New Music Group, giving premières of works by Peter Maxwell Davies, Alexander Goehr and Harrison Birtwistle as well as by himself. He also was introduced to the music of the Second Viennese School. At his graduation concert he played Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor Op. 15 with the student orchestra conducted by John Barbirolli.



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