James Rhodes (pianist)

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James Rhodes
James rhodes pianist.jpg
April 2009
Background information
Birth name James Edward Rhodes
Born (1975-03-06) 6 March 1975 (age 40)
London, England
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Pianist
Instruments Piano
Years active 2009-present
Labels Signum Records, Warner Bros. Records
Website www.jamesrhodes.tv

James Rhodes (born 6 March 1975 in London) is a British concert pianist.

Early life[edit]

James Edward Rhodes was born into a middle-class Jewish family in St John's Wood, North London. He was educated at Arnold House School, a local all-boys independent preparatory school. There, he experienced sexual abuse by his PE teacher, Peter Lee. Having been arrested and charged, Lee died before appearing in court. Rhodes suffered mentally as well as physically, including spinal damage, eating disorders and PTSD.[1]

Aged 7, he borrowed the CD of Beethoven's Emperor Concerto from his father's collection.[citation needed] He was taught piano, but did not progress formally beyond Grade 3.[1] First moving to a local boarding school, he was educated at Harrow School, where he worked with piano teacher Colin Stone, from the age of 13 onwards. It was during this period that he entered the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, but failed to make it past the second round.[2]

In 1993, he was offered a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.[3] But in part due to mental health issues and his father's insistence, Rhodes took a psychology degree at University College, London.

On graduation, Rhodes took a job in the City of London, married, had a son and later divorced.

In 2014, Rhodes married Hattie Chamberlin. They live in London.


A fan of the Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov, Rhodes wrote to Sokolov's agent Franco Panozzo in Italy, with the idea that Rhodes would become a music agent himself.[4] Panozzo responded, and after Rhodes sent him a bottle of Champagne Krug, the pair arranged to meet in Italy. After hearing Rhodes play, Panozzo arranged for Rhodes to have a brief tutorage under the renowned piano teacher Edoardo Strabbioli in Verona, Italy. However after a period Rhodes was institutionalised,[5] spending eight months in various hospitals in the United Kingdom and the United States, after which his first marriage broke down.[6]

Returning to London, he met Canadian entrepreneur Denis Blais while practising at the Steinway Hall, Marylebone in 2008. Encouraged to record his first CD, and uncomfortable with the austere and traditional 'white tie and tails' recital, Rhodes and Blais decided it was time for the performer to communicate directly with the audience. Rhodes introduced his own programme notes to share with the audience about what it takes to perform these works of art, using anecdotes about the composers and his own life experience.

2008/2009 saw his profile go from complete unknown to rising star, attracting celebrity followers such as Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Sir David Tang.[citation needed] Having performed in non-traditional classical venues, Rhodes built on this performance approach.

In March 2010, Rhodes became the first core classical pianist to be signed with the world's largest rock label Warner Bros. Records.[7]

In 2011, Rhodes became a regular culture blogger for The Telegraph[8] and had popular articles in The Guardian [9] Music Blog, 2013.

Returning to his original label Signum Classics, Rhodes released his 4th album "JIMMY: James Rhodes recorded live at The Old Market Brighton" in May 2012.[10]

Canongate acquired James Rhodes's memoir in 2013,[11] but James and Canongate were banned to publish the book. However, UK Supreme Court lifted injunction that had banned him from publishing a full account of his own life and the book will be publish in the end of May 2015.[12]


Rhodes' first public recital was at Steinway Hall in London, on 7 November 2008. His second recital was at the Hinde Street Methodist Centre, London, on 4 December 2008. He performed his first full scale concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, in London on 6 February 2009.[13]

In May 2009, Rhodes performed a solo concert at The Roundhouse in Camden, the first classical musician to give a solo recital since the reopening.[14] Rhodes has also played Proud Galleries in Camden; 100 Club in Soho; Tabernacle, Notting Hill and the nominations launch for the Classical BRIT Awards 2009 WITH NS&I.[15]

In March 2010, Rhodes performed at the Holders Season 2010 in Barbados.[16] 2010 also saw him play at the Cheltenham Music Festival, Hay Festival and the Latitude Festival, Suffolk.

In February 2011, Rhodes performed a sold-out show at the Elgar Room in the Royal Albert Hall [17] and then at the Jazz Cafe in Camden as a part of the HMV Next Big Thing Festival. In March 2011, Rhodes performed two concerts in London's West End at The Ambassadors Theatre.[18] James then returned to the Cheltenham Music Festival and performed at The Lichfield Festival [19] in July 2011.

Rhodes appeared at the Barbican Arts Centre in "A Classical Affair" with Stephen Fry, Tim Lihoreau and Sir David Tang[20] in September 2011. Then in October 2011 James performed an 11 date tour of Australia which was launched at the Melbourne International Arts Festival.[21]

In September 2012 Rhodes had his debut performance in the US at the International Beethoven Festival in Chicago, Illinois.[22]

Rhodes performed in Hong Kong, at the Konzerthaus, Vienna, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham, the Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room, Cheltenham Music Festival, the Waterfront stage at Latitude Festival and a series of concerts at the Soho Theatre[23] in London in 2013. Rhodes was invited back to the Soho Theatre[24] in March 2014 and has engagements with Hay Festival and Harrogate International Festivals for the Summer.


Rhodes completed filming a BBC Four music documentary celebrating Frédéric Chopin’s 200th anniversary in December 2009. He is the star presenter and performer in the 90 minute programme, which is a discovery of Chopin’s life and his relationship with the opera singer Jenny Lind. This documentary was broadcast in October 2010.

James Rhodes filmed a seven episode series called James Rhodes: Piano Man [25] which aired on Sky Arts 2 in December 2010 and again in March 2011. In Piano Man, James plays the music of his favourite composers, including Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, many of whom, like James, had troubled lives. In this highly personal collection, James explains how they’ve given him solace in his darkest moments, and why we should all be listening.

In July 2013, he presented Notes from the Inside with James Rhodes on Channel 4 as part of their Mad4Music season of programmes, in which each episode featured musicians from across the musical spectrum giving an alternative take on music and what it means to them and others around them; for example the second episode featured Björk being interviewed by Sir David Attenborough. During his programme, he both gave some spoken insights into his personal life over the previous few years and also played piano to four individual mental hospital patients, all dealing with their own mental health issues, inside their psychiatric hospital by selecting a piece for each of them to match their personalities and individual circumstances,[26] including "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (Edvard Grieg), "Prelude in C-sharp minor" (Sergei Rachmaninoff), "Melody from Orfeo ed Euridice" (Christoph Willibald Gluck) and "Widmung" (Robert Schumann).

Rhodes filmed a two-part campaigning series called Don't Stop the Music (working title The Great Instrument Amnesty) [27] that was aired on Channel 4 in September 2014, with the aim of improving music education across the UK. The multiplatform project included an instrument amnesty which collected over 6,000 instruments to redistribute to 150 UK primary schools.[28]



  • Razor Blades, Little Pills and Big Pianos (Feb 2009), Signum Records[29][30][31][32]
  • Now Would All Freudians Please Stand Aside (Mar 2010), Signum Records[33][34][35]
  • JIMMY: James Rhodes Live in Brighton (May 2012), Signum Records[40][41]
  • 5 (release date Jun 2014), Instrumental Records


  1. ^ a b Cobain, Ian; Booth, Robert (20 May 2015). "Pianist James Rhodes wins right to publish autobiography telling of abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  2. ^ James Rhodes (November 2010). "The accidental pianist". The Spectator. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  3. ^ Rhodes, James. "James Rhodes: how Beethoven became my drug". The Times, 22 May 2009.
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference Times5474670 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ James Rhodes (November 2010). "The accidental pianist - Page3". The Spectator. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  6. ^ Brachhi, Paul and Greenhill, Sam "How a paedophile prep school teacher tore my life to shreds" The Daily Mail. 23 May 2015.
  7. ^ Smith, Charlotte. "James Rhodes signs to Warner Bros Records". Gramophone (magazine), 25 March 2010.
  8. ^ James Rhodes. "James Rhodes Blog". The Telegraph. 
  9. ^ James Rhodes (April 2013). "'Find what you love and let it kill you'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  10. ^ Gill, Andy "Album: James Rhodes, Jimmy: Live in Brighton (Signum Classics)" The Independent. 19 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Canongate buys Rhodes memoir". The Bookseller. 27 September 2013. 
  12. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/may/20/concert-pianist-james-rhodes-wins-right-to-publish-autobiography
  13. ^ Church, Michael. "James Rhodes, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London". The Independent, 9 February 2009.
  14. ^ Brown, Geoff. "James Rhodes at Roundhouse, NW1". The Times, 15 May 2009.
  15. ^ "Classical BRIT Awards Launch 2009". classicfm.co.uk, 20 April 2009.
  16. ^ "A Classical Evening". The Daily Nation (Barbados), 21 March 2010.
  17. ^ Maddocks, Fiona. "James Rhodes – review". The Observer, 13 February 2011.
  18. ^ Nugent, John. "Live Music Review: James Rhodes @ The Ambassador’s Theatre". londonist.com, 18 March 2011.
  19. ^ "Lichfield Festival Late Night Series, James Rhodes". Lichfield Festival, 13 July 2011.
  20. ^ "A Classical Affair. An evening of music and discussion with Stephen Fry". Barbican, 26 September 2011.
  21. ^ Lesnie, Melissa. "Melbourne International Arts Festival unveils 2011 program". Limelight Magazine, 12 July 2011.
  22. ^ "James Rhodes' unusual practice habits". ClassicFM.com, 14 August 2012.
  23. ^ Victoria Sadler (July 2013). "Review: James Rhodes, Soho Theatre". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013-07-26. 
  24. ^ Victoria Sadler (March 2014). "James Rhodes' One Man Classical Music Revolution Gathers Pace". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  25. ^ "James Rhodes: Piano Man". skyarts.co.uk
  26. ^ "Notes from the Inside with James Rhodes". 24 July 2013. Channel 4. Retrieved 24 July 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Channel 4 to strike a chord with 'The Great Instrument Amnesty'". channel4.com, 1 April 2014.
  28. ^ http://www.dontstopthemusic.co.uk/
  29. ^ Hewett, Ivan "Classical CD reviews - Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, James Rhodes and more". The Daily Telegraph. 18 February 2009.
  30. ^ Jones, Rick 'Siberian Dido, review for 'Razor Blades, Little Pills and Big Pianos' ". BBC Radio 3. 20 February 2009.
  31. ^ Midgette, Annette "The Classical Beat - What's In a Name" The Washington Post. 9 September 2009.
  32. ^ Distler, Jed "9/10 review for 'Razor Blades, Little Pills and Big Pianos' classicstoday.com. 11 September 2009
  33. ^ Woolf, Peter Grahame "Musical Pointers review for 'Now Would All Freudians Please Stand Aside'" musicalpointers.co.uk. 15 March 2010.
  34. ^ Silverman, Laura "The Times Top Downloads recommends James Rhodes" The Times. 26 March 2010.
  35. ^ Thompson, Damian "Why does this clown think he can play late Beethoven" The Daily Telegraph. 8 March 2010.
  36. ^ Gardner, Charlotte "BBC Review" BBC Music. 8 December 2010.
  37. ^ Maddocks, Fiona "James Rhodes: Bullets and Lullabies – review" The Observer. 26 December 2010.
  38. ^ Gill, Andy "Album: James Rhodes, Bullets & Lullabies (Warner Bros)" The Independent. 7 January 2011.
  39. ^ James Rhodes (November 2010). "The accidental pianist - Page4". The Spectator. Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  40. ^ Brian Reinhart (October 2012). "Album: James Rhodes, Jimmy: Live in Brighton". Musicweb International. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  41. ^ Alice Buxton (May 2012). "James Rhodes – ‘Jimmy: Live In Brighton’ – Album Review". Hive Magazine. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 

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