Marmaduke Barton

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Marmaduke Barton FRCM (29 December 1865 – 24 July 1938) was an English pianist, composer and teacher at the Royal College of Music for almost 50 years.


Marmaduke Miller Barton was born in Manchester, the son of a United Methodist Free Church minister,[1] the Rev Samuel Saxon Barton.[2] He was educated at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London under one of the first 50 scholarships. His teachers were John Francis Barnett (piano) and Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.[2]

On 2 July 1884 he opened the very first concert ever given by students of the RCM, in the West Theatre of the Royal Albert Hall, with a performance of Chopin's Ballade No. 3 in A-flat.[1][3]

He met Hamish MacCunn at this time and the two became lifelong friends.[1][4] He made piano duet arrangements of two of MacCunn's orchestral works, and some smaller works were dedicated to him.[5][6] He and MacCunn played piano duets in some student concerts.[4]

Barton was the inaugural winner of the Hopkinson Gold Medal for piano performance at the RCM.[2] He was the soloist at the premiere performance of Charles Wood's Piano Concerto.[1] In 1887 he played before Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle in a concert celebrating her Golden Jubilee.[2] On 20 December 1887, he participated in the first English performance of Palestrina's Stabat Mater, at the Princes' Hall, under Sir Hubert Parry.[7]

In 1888 he was awarded a travelling scholarship, enabling him to study with the Franz Liszt pupil Bernhard Stavenhagen in Weimar.[2] He was appointed to the teaching staff of the RCM on his return in 1889, while continuing his career as a solo performer. In February 1891 he played Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 under Sir August Manns at The Crystal Palace,[8] and also appeared at the Albert Hall, the Proms (he played the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor on 11 October 1911 under Sir Henry Wood),[9] and in the provinces. He gave frequent solo recitals in London, and he toured South Africa and the Netherlands.[2]

Of his playing of the Schumann Piano Concerto in 1910, Ernest Newman wrote:

A more superb performance of Schumann's Concerto it would be hard to imagine. When we get a piece of playing so thoroughly splendid in every quality of technique and brain and temperament, there is no room for any feeling but one of thankfulness.[1]

Barton taught at the Guildhall School of Music from 1911, and regularly acted as Examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.[2] He published a small number of compositions, including a Mass in A major[10] and some piano pieces. His students included: Marion Scott,[11] Cyril Rootham, Clara Butt,[12] Lloyd Powell,[1] Henry Ley,[13] and the entertainer Anna Russell (presumably no relation to his wife).[14]


The Marmaduke Barton Prize for Pianoforte Playing is awarded by the RCM. Recipients include David Helfgott and Marianna Prjevalskaya.[15]

Personal life[edit]

In 1891 he married Anna Russell, one of his co-students at the RCM, a pupil of Jenny Lind and Sir George Henschel.[2] She had sung Agathe in the college's production of Der Freischütz. He became a Roman Catholic soon afterwards.[1]


Barton died in 1938, aged 72, survived by his widow, a daughter and three sons.[1] He was buried at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green.[10][16]