Ben Salfield

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Benjamin Dieter Salfield (born 1971) is an English lutenist, lutarist, composer, teacher and promoter.

Early life[edit]

Ben Salfield was born in Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire, UK. His father, a German Jewish refugee, was the eminent Children's Psychiatrist Dr. Derek “Dieter” Salfield (1915-2006);[1] his mother, a home-maker, Sandra - known as “Sally” - is still alive (b.1942). Of his siblings, the best-known is undoubtedly Jon (b.1973) who, as well as an international flamenco guitarist (the two brothers have performed together internationally in Poland and Germany) is also Head Coach of the Great Britain Sabre Team.[2]

Salfield's family settled in Cornwall, UK, when he was 9 years old, and he has lived there ever since. He began playing lute at 13 with Ian Thomson at Truro Guitar Studios. When his teacher moved away, he was mainly self-taught. His concert début was in December 1988 at St Ives Parish Church of St Ia, and shortly after he performed for the Lute Society at the Artworkers Guild, Queens Square, London. His first international recital was at the Meschede Abteikonzerte,Cologne, Germany, in 1993, and his first full international tour – in the Czech Republic – took place three years later.

Media Recognition[edit]

Ben Salfield received his first newspaper review in August 1989, for a performance at Truro Cathedral Chapter House. Headed “Performance of Real Perfection”, the review compared him favourably to Julian Bream.[3] Internationally, newspapers referred to him in complimentary terms, especially in Italy,[4] Poland[5] and Sweden;[6] and in the UK, guitarist Nicola Hall described him in glowing terms on BBC radio.[7] Some years later Dutch reviewer David van der Hof reprised her description, calling Ben Salfield “Cornwall's Paganini”, and remarking that “it is hard to put into words exactly just how dominating a personality he is”.[8]

Television, Promotions & Composition[edit]

Ben Salfield has appeared on television and radio, including on BBC World Television who included his duo's music on a DVD.[9] He has founded and directed concert series and festivals including the Tolmen International Guitar Symposium, Constantine) (2003-2010) among them, earning critical recognition.[10] Additionally, he has run series on behalf of other organisations, including lunchtime concerts for the Hall For Cornwall, and co-directed, with his brother Jon, the earliest music sessions at the Eden Project. He has composed music for organisations and individuals, and in December 2012 his guitar suite for Andrea Dieci, “5-4-10”, was published in Poland[11][12]


  • “Shadoworld... and Other Tales” (1992) [PM Sound] {deleted}
  • “Live... on Home Ground” (1994) [PM Sound] {deleted}
  • “10 Years of Luting...” (1999) [Red C]
  • “Fantasie” (2002) [Red C]
  • “Into the Dark” (Due for release in 2014) [Red C]


Lutenist and Lutarist[edit]

Salfield has performed as a soloist, as an accompanist to singers including the "highly regarded" Lucile Clitherow,[13] and Susan King; in duo with lutenists Denys Stephens[14] and Michael Tyack, and his brother Jon Salfield; and in ensemble with Horsemen of the Apocalypse (featuring percussionist Simon Stanton) and Polish group, Szyman's Quartet. Between 1988 and 2013, Salfield performed only on a 10-course lute made by luthier Philip Brown. After the instrument was rebuilt for a third time, following damage during air transit on his way to perform with Lucile Clitherow in Slovakia,[15] he commissioned luthier Kif Wood to make him “the ultimate instrument” – a 10-course lutar – which featured brand new building techniques and materials.[16] The lutar made its concert début at Ben Salfield's 25th Anniversary Concert at Towednack Church, St Ives in September 2013.[17]


Ben Salfield teaches privately in Cornwall. He also gives master classes abroad and has taught at summer schools in Poland, Germany and Italy. He has also appeared on juries for international guitar competitions since 1993, when he was a member of the jury that gave Italian guitarist Nicola Jappelli first prize in the Niccolo Paganini Festival, Parma, Italy. Most recently, he was a jury member at Dolný Kubín, Slovakia, in 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Salfield lives in Truro, Cornwall, UK. He has a partner, and two children from previous relationships who do not live with him.

External links[edit]

Ben Salfield's website:

Fan Page:


  1. ^ British Medical Journal
  2. ^ Truro Fencing Club
  3. ^ West Briton newspaper, A.Boughton, August 1989: “Performance of Real Perfection”. “(Ben Salfield)... compares favourably with such master lutenists as Julian Bream”.
  4. ^ Gazetta di Parma newspaper, Vincenzo Raffaele, May 2003: “(Ben Salfield is)... a dominant figure in the esoteric niche of the lute world, despite his young age. A quintessentially English, eccentric figure, wearing a tuxedo... shiny patent shoes, his long hair centre-parted, and sunglasses like a rock star, from above which he gave ironical glances towards his audience as his hands flew over the wide highway of his instrument's fretboard”.
  5. ^ Krzyzowa Summer Classes, 2003 “The outstanding English lutenist... Ben Salfield is an eminent interpreter of John Dowland's music”.
  6. ^ Carsten Groendahl, Director, Malmoe Gittarfestival 2003: “(Ben Salfield is)... the most exciting lutenist of his generation”.
  7. ^ Nicola Hall interview, BBC Radio Derby, September 1993: "Ben Salfield... is like some modern-day Paganini".
  8. ^ David van der Hof, Falmouth Packet, April, 2007:
  9. ^ BBC World, “Destination Music” Series II Volume I, Marrli Productions, produced and directed by Walli Ullah, 2006.
  10. ^ West Briton newspaper, February 2009: “Ben Salfield's pedigree as artistic director is impeccable. As a performer... he has earned respect in music circles worldwide over the years”
  11. ^ Modran Special Edition, “5-4-10 Five Preludes for Andrea Dieci”, published December 2012 by Modran, Poland, first performed at the Tabard Theatre, London, April 2012.
  12. ^ North Devon Maritime Trust, launch of “Atlantic Adventurer”, 1996.
  13. ^ West Briton newspaper, September 2011
  14. ^ Tolmen International Guitar Festival 2011
  15. ^ Katarina Wieczorek-Bibkova, Director, Modra International Guitar Festival, June 2012.
  16. ^ Kif Wood, luthier, March 2013
  17. ^ St.Ives September Festival 2013