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Noel Mewton-Wood (1922 - 1953)

Like many young musical prodigies, including Raymond Lewenthal and Percy Grainger, Mewton-Wood had a weak and insignificant father and a strong, almost overbearing mother. She gave him his first piano lessons, but when young Noel was accepted at the Melbourne University Conservatorium, it was on the condition that his mother ceased his tuition in piano, and he took lessons from Waldemar Seidel. As a child Mewton-Wood, like John Ogdon, could learn a work in a matter of days, and as a result had a vast knowledge of not only the solo piano repertoire, but also chamber music, orchestral music and opera. When he was fourteen, his mother took him to London to audition at the Royal Academy of Music and after completing his studies there he decided to go for lessons with Artur Schnabel in Italy. He returned to London in 1939 where he studied composition with Frank Bridge, and asked Sir Thomas Beecham for an audition. Beecham immediately engaged him after hearing his audition, and Mewton-Wood made his London debut with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 Op. 37 at the Queen’s Hall in 1940. In his usual fashion Beecham described Mewton-Wood as ‘The best talent that I’ve discovered in the British Empire’, while Henry Wood thought that his playing sounded like that of the great pianists of the past.




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