Gavin Williamson (harpsichordist)

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Gavin Williamson
Philip Manuel and Gavin Williamson
Philip Manuel and Gavin Williamson
Born 1897 (1897)
Winnipeg, Canada
Died 1989 (1990) (aged 92)
Chicago, USA
Occupation American pianist, harpsichordist, organist and music educator

Gavin Williamson (Winnipeg, 1897 - Chicago, 1989) was an American pianist, harpsichordist, organist and music educator. With pianist Philip Manuel, he formed a duo in 1922 that helped promote the professional use of harpsichords in the United States.

Life and career[edit]

Gavin Williamson was born in Winnipeg, Canada. He studied music at the University of Chicago and was a Fellow of Oxford University studying with Artur Schnabel, Ethel Leginska and Theodor Leschetizky.

At the Cosmopolitan Conservatory, Williamson met Philip Manuel (1893–1959) and the two developed an interest in harpsichord as a concert instrument. At this time in the 1920s, there were fewer than 50 harpsichords in the United States, most located in museums.[1] The two men went to Paris in search of a builder, where they contracted with Pleyel et Cie to produce two instruments for their use.[2] With these instruments, they initiated concert tours of the United States, and also worked as teachers of harpsichord, piano and voice. The two frequently played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and were broadcast on the National Broadcasting Company radio network.[3]

After his partner died in 1959, Williamson continued this career as a solo performer and music teacher. He died in Chicago at age 92. Notable students include Alexander Frey, Dina Koston and Rosalyn Tureck.[4]


  • Concerto in C Major for 3 Harpsichords and Strings / Les cyclopes - Williamson and Manuel (1948)
  • Concerto in C Major for 2 Harpsichords and Strings/Musette de Taverny - Williamson and Manuel (1948)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heise, Kenan (25 April 1989), Gavin Williamson: Helped save harpsichord, Chicago Trubune, retrieved 11 July 2014 
  2. ^ Letters, Volumes 41-42, Washington, DC.: Time Inc., 1935, OCLC 9467134 
  3. ^ Kipnis, Igor, ed. (2004-08-01), Harpsichord and Clavichord: An Encyclopedia, ISBN 9781135949785, retrieved 12 July 2014 
  4. ^ Duchen, Jessica (18 July 2003), Rosalyn Tureck - Fearsomely demanding keyboard player dedicated to the music of JS Bach, The Guardian, retrieved 12 July 2014