Professor Kenneth Hamilton

Professor Kenneth Hamilton

Head of School of Music, Dean (International) for College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

+44 (0)29 2087 4380
1.03, Music Building

Professor Hamilton is Head of the School of Music, Dean (International) of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, a concert pianist, writer and broadcaster. His research, performances and recordings centre on 19th and 20th century music and its associated performance-practice, with special emphasis on the works of Liszt, Chopin, Alkan, Wagner and Busoni.

Described as “an outstanding virtuoso- one of the finest players of his generation” by Moscow’s Kommersant Daily; as a performer “full of energy and wit” by the New York Times; by the Singapore Straits Times as “a formidable virtuoso”; and by Tom Service in The Guardian as “pianist/author/lecturer/all-round virtuoso”, Scottish pianist and scholar Kenneth Hamilton concertises worldwide as a soloist on both modern and historical instruments. His publications have had an international impact, especially his much discussed After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (OUP), welcomed as “full of wit and interest, and written with passion” by Charles Rosen (Times Literary Supplement) and as “a wonderful book” by James Fenton (The Guardian).

Kenneth Hamilton is a committed public communicator who believes that the appreciation of music in its historical context can significantly enhance its meaning for modern audiences, and offer vital insights for performers. He does not regard professional and popular readerships as necessarily distinct, believing that the “cultured general reader” is an audience well worth cultivating, and that scholarship is of distinctly limited value if it caters only to other scholars.

He has broadcast frequently as pianist, presenter or panellist on television and radio, most recently as soloist in a performance of Chopin’s first piano concerto with the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra for Turkish Television, as presenter of “Mendelssohn in Scotland” for Deutsche Welle Channel (where he was overshadowed in every sense by the Scottish scenery) and as interviewee for CBC (Canada), ABC (Australia), Thai Television, and New York Public Radio. He is also a familiar voice on BBC Radios 3 and 4, and the World Service. 

His numerous international engagements include a memorable recreation of Liszt’s 1847 concerts in Constantinople for the Istanbul International Festival, performances of works by Chopin on historical and modern pianos at the Cité de la Musique, Paris, participation as a soloist in the Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms Unwrapped Festivals at London’s Kings Place, appearances at the Southbank, at festivals in Korea, in numerous venues in the US and Europe, and annual recitals at the Singapore Esplanade. His latest solo CDs, both on the Prima Facie/ASC label are Back to Bach (a collection of Bach transcriptions and tributes by Liszt, Rachmaninov and Busoni), and Kenneth Hamilton Plays The Music of Ronald Stevenson, Volume 1. 

As a writer, Professor Hamilton has published widely in the academic and popular press, the latter including a bicentenary article on Liszt for The New York Times. His monograph After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Oxford University Press, 2008) became a Classical music bestseller soon after its publication. It has attracted a remarkable amount of attention worldwide, including reviews by Alex Ross in The New Yorker, James Penrose in The Wall Street Journal, and articles in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the China Times. Described by Stuart Isacoff as “Brilliantly researched, beautifully written, and filled to the brim with amusing anecdotes”, After the Golden Age was a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in the US, a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year in the UK, and the recipient of an ARSC Certificate of Merit for Research into Recorded Music. An Italian edition, entitled Il trionfo del pianoforte: il pianismo romantico e la sua interpretazione, will be published by EDT, Turin. 

Professor Hamilton is also the author of Liszt: Sonata in B-minor (Cambridge University Press) and contributing editor of The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. His work has featured in The Nineteenth-Century Symphony (Schirmer), Mendelssohn in Performance (Indiana University Press), Wagner and his World (Princeton University Press), The Cambridge Companion to the Piano (CUP), and Beethoven’s ‘Tempest’ Sonata: Perspectives on Analysis and Performance (Leuven University Press). 

Among his further publications on Liszt are “The Sufferings and Greatness of Franz Liszt” (a modest mirror of Thomas Mann’s “Leiden und Größe Richard Wagners”) in Franz Liszt: A Chorus of Voices (Pendragon Press), “The Embarrassment of Influence: Liszt, Paris and Posterity”, in Liszt et la France (Editions Vrin), and “Nach persönlichen Erinnerungen: Liszt’s Overlooked Legacy to his Students” in Liszt’s Legacies (Pendragon Press). Works in progress include The Piano, a general history of the instrument and its performance-practice for Yale University Press; The Piano in Prose: Source Readings in the History of the Piano (co-authored with Monika Hennemann, and awarded an AMS publication subvention) for Oxford University Press; and a monograph on the music of Liszt, also for OUP. 

Professor Hamilton has given keynote addresses at numerous international conferences, and spoken frequently at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society. He has been Guest Professor at the University of Connecticut, and presented many lectures and masterclasses at the invitation of universities and conservatories worldwide, including the New England Conservatory, Berkeley, Stanford, and Brown Universities in the US; the University of Leuven, Belgium; the University of Minho, Portugal; Musikeon, Valencia, Spain; Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea; Beijing Normal University, China, the Schola Cantorum, Basel; and the St Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. 

He himself is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and of Balliol College, Oxford-- and deeply indebted to both Hugh Macdonald and John Warrack for their thought-provoking tuition in these respective institutions. His doctoral dissertation at Balliol was a critical study of the opera fantasias and transcriptions of Franz Liszt. At the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now sensibly sporting a much shorter title) his inspiring piano teachers were Alexa Maxwell and Lawrence Glover. He later benefitted greatly from the pianistic mentoring of Ronald Stevenson, much of whose music he has had the pleasure of performing and recording. 

Subsequently, he was De Velling Willis Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and a member of the Music Department of the University of Birmingham, before joining Cardiff University, initially as Professor of Music, and later as Head of the School of Music and Dean (International) of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As Dean he was involved in the establishment of the strategic partnership between Cardiff University and the University of Leuven, the Joint College for Chinese Language and Culture with Beijing Normal University, Cardiff University’s Global Opportunity Centre (GOC) and the International Unit of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. He is currently academic lead for both the GOC and the College International Unit.


Professor Hamilton’s teaching has included courses on Classical and Romantic Performance-Practice, the operas of Richard Wagner, Giacomo Meyerbeer and French Grand Opera, Programme Music, Film Music, Music at the Fin-de-Siēcle, Richard Strauss, Franz Liszt, Frederic Chopin, Nationalism in Music, Analysis, Counterpoint and Harmony, The History of Recordings, and and of course piano masterclasses.

He has supervised many postgraduate dissertations, including work on the Violin Students of Leopold Auer, Instructive Editions of J.S.Bach, Liszt as Kapellmeister in Weimar, the Pianism of Paderewski, the Music of Charles Valentin Alkan, Performance Practices in Chopin, Chabrier and Wagner, 20th-century British Organ Performance-Practice, 18th Century English Parochial Organists, and piano roll recordings.

Dictionary Articles

Alison Latham (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Music (Oxford: OUP, 2002): Liszt, Alkan, Czerny, Herz, Pixis, Kalkbrenner, Thalberg, Leschetizky, Paderewski, Panufnik, and Moszkowski

Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edn (London: Macmillan, 2001): Nocturne, Étude, Berceuse, Barcarolle, Albumleaf, Arabesque, Song without Words, and Legend

Book Reviews

Review of Liszt’s Rhapsodie Espagnole (Henle Urtext) and ‘Wenn die letzten Sterne bleichen’(first edition, Henle), Nineteenth Century Music Review, 7/2 (2010), 158–160 

Review of Carl Czerny: Beyond the Art of Finger Dexterity, ed. by David Gramit and Johann Nepomuk Hummel: A Musician’s Life and World, by Mark Kroll, Journal of Musicological Research, 28/1 (2009), 340–6 

Review of New Liszt Edition, Supplements to Works for Piano Solo, Vol.5, Studia Musicologica, 49/3–4 (2008), 471–3


Kenneth Hamilton Plays the Music of Ronald Stevenson, Volume 1. Kenneth Hamilton, Piano (Prima Facie)

Back to Bach: Liszt, Busoni and Rachmaninoff. Kenneth Hamilton, Piano (Prima Facie)

Liszt: Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra. Kenneth Hamilton, piano; Mark Eager, Conductor; Cardiff University Orchestra. (Prima Facie, 2014)

Research Grants


Conference Contributions

Stanford University, US: Reactions to the Record 3

  • 2015 ‘Performance Practices in Piano Rolls (lecture-recital)

University of California, Berkeley, US: International Piano Symposium

  • 2014 ‘Variant Versions in Late Liszt’ (lecture-recital)

Stanford University, US: Reactions to the Record 3

  • 2014 ‘Traditions of Liszt Performance’ (lecture-recital)

Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris): Charles Valentin Alkan: Le Piano Visionnaire

  • 2013 ‘Alkan’s Concerto op.39: Plagiarism or Inspiration?’

American Musicological Society Annual Conference (New Orleans) 

  • 1-4 November 2012 'Apres une lecture du Czerny? Liszt's Musical Models'

International conference "Musicology and Professional Practices" (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim) 

  • 26 October 2012 Invited address: 'Musicology and Performance'

International Music Congress (Guimaraes, Portugal) 

  • 2012 Keynote Address: “A dance around Liszt’s Totentanz”

Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea): Franz Liszt Festival 

  • 2011 Keynote address: ‘The Sufferings and Greatness of Franz Liszt’ 

Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt (Weimar, Germany): ‘Der ganze Liszt – Liszt Interpretation’ 

  • 2011 ‘Hommage an Beethoven und Erinnerungen an Czerny: Einfluss und Inspiration in Liszt’s zyklischen Werken’ 

Kunstuniversität Graz (Austria): Internationales Symposium Franz Liszt: Paraphrasen, Transkriptionen, und andere Bearbeitungen 

  • 2011 ‘Immer im Dienst der Öffentlichkeit: Liszts Opern Fantasien und Ihr Publikum’ 

Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada): International Conference ‘Liszt’s Legacies’ 

  • 2011 ‘Liszt’s Pianistic Legacy’ 

Cité de la Musique (Paris, France): International Conference ‘Liszt et La France’ 

  • 2011 ‘Liszt and the Parisian Virtuoso Composers: The Embarrassment of Influence’ 

University of St. Louis (Missouri, US): Liszt Symposium: ‘Perspectives on Liszt, the Man and Musician’ 

  • 2011 ‘Reshaping the Narrative on Liszt’ 

Annual Postgraduate Students Conference, Society of Musicology, Ireland 

  • 2011 Keynote Lecture: ‘Improvisation and 19th- Century Piano Performance’ 

Schola Cantorum (Basel, Switzerland): International Conference ‘Werk, Werkstatt, Handwerk und neue Zugänge zum Material der alten Musik’ 

  • 2010 ‘Improvisation-Composition-Performance: The Shifting Shapes of the Liszt Piano Fantasy’ 

British Science Festival, Birmingham 

  • 2010 Lecture-recital: 300 years of the piano 

British Academy Postdoctoral Symposium 

  • 2010 Invited Address: ‘Impact and Knowledge Transfer’ 

University of Minho, Portugal: Conference ‘A Performance em Contexto’ (Performance in Context) 

  • 2010 Keynote Lecture: ‘Classical Keyboard Improvisation in the 18th and 19th Centuries’ 

International Mendelssohn Symposium (Koblenz, Germany) 

  • 2009 Lecture-Recital: ‘Reconstructing Johanna Kinkel’s Historical Mendelssohn Lecture-Recital of 1856’ 

Royal Musical Association International Conference: Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn 

  • 2009 Recording Symposium, invited participant with Christopher Hogwood et al. 

Internationaler Kongress der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung (Leipzig, Germany) 

  • 2008 ‘Busoni, Schoenberg, und op. 11 no. 2’ 

Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung (Cologne, Germany): 

  • 2007 ‘Der langsame Untergang des Präludierens am Klavier’ 

International Conference: Performance-Practice, Issues and Approaches (Rhodes College, Memphis, US): 

  • 2006 ‘Liszt’s Héxameron: Towards a New Edition’ 

Artivities Teaching Conference, Singapore (organised by the government of Singapore) 

  • 2005 Invited address: ‘Teaching Wagner’s Theories of Music-Drama’ 

Annual Meetings of the American Musicological Society: 

  • 2010 ‘Busoni, Schoenberg, and the Strange Case of op.11 no.2’ (Indianapolis, IN) 
  • 2007 ‘The Delayed Demise of the Prelude for Piano’ (Quebec City, Canada) 
  • 2004 ‘Felix Mendelssohn and Johanna Kinkel’ (Lecture-recital, Seattle, WA) 
  • 2002 ‘20th-century Liszt performance’ (Columbus, OH) 
  • 2001 ‘Alkan’s Concerto for Piano without orchestra’ (Lecture-recital, Atlanta, GA) 

International Conferences on 19th-century Music (Lecture-recitals): 

  • 2004 ‘Alkan’s Concerto for Piano without Orchestra’ (Durham University)
  • 2002 ‘Liszt’s keyboard technique’ (Leeds University) 
  • 2000 ‘The 19th-century piano’ (on an 1851 Erard grand, Royal Holloway College) 
  • 1996 ‘Liszt and the Sonata’ (Nottingham University) 

International Conference on Romanticism and Nationalism in Music (Ionian University, Corfu, Greece): 

  • 2003 ‘Liszt’s Gypsy Manner’ 

Interpreting Berlioz Conference (Royal College of Music, London): 

  • 2002 ‘Berlioz on the piano’ (Lecture-recital)


Television broadcasts

Interview for Thai Television World 360 Degrees (2015)

BBC 1, Wales Today, interview (2014) 

“Mendelssohn in Scotland”, (Episode 2 of the series ‘Artists and Landscapes’, Deutsche Welle Channel, Germany/US) 

Concerto Broadcast with the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra (Turkish Cultural Channel, DVD available) 

Interview preceding concerto concert with the Borusan Symphony Orchestra (Turkish Cultural Channel) 

Concerto broadcast with the St Petersburg Radio Symphony Orchestra, (Russian State Television) 

Performances for BBC 2 (with Colin Lawson, clarinet) and Scottish Television (piano solo)

Radio broadcasts 

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Counterpoint (2012); Radio WQXR New York: Soundcheck (2012); Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Radio 2 ‘Interview with Bill Richardson’ (2008); Australian Broadcasting Corporation: Counterpoint (2008); Radio WQXR New York: Soundcheck (2008) 

BBC Radio Wales: Sunday Morning with Jamie Owen (2015): BBC Radio 3: CD Review (2015); BBC Radio 3: Festival of Freethinking (2014)BBC Radio 3: CD Review (May 2013); Music Matters (2011): Liszt Bicentenary (interview and piano performance); CD Review (2011): Liszt Sonata; Proms Plus: Brahms (2011), ‘Beethoven Piano Sonatas’ (2010); ‘The Schumann Piano Concerto’ (2010); ‘Chopin through the Ages’ (as interviewee and pianist) Music Matters (2010); ‘“Move over Darling”- The history of the Piano Duet’ (2009); CD Review’(2004), ‘The Piano in Recordings’ (2003); ‘Music and Dance’ (2001); ‘Chopin Playing’ (1999); ‘Music in Russia’ (1999); ‘The Erard Grand and the Steinway Grand’(1998); ‘Paderewski and Piano performance’ (1998); ‘Hexaméron’ (1998); ‘The Liszt Sonata’ (1997) 

BBC Radio 4: Key Matters (2010); contributor to ‘National Anthems’, 2007; pianist and interviewee in four-part series ‘Music and Gender’, 1999) 

For Radio Scotland: Grainger and Liszt, (as pianist and interviewee, 1999). 

BBC World Service: Newshour (2011): Liszt Bicentenary (interview and piano performance) Europe Today ‘Chopin at 200’ (as interviewee and pianist, 2010).

Piano Recitals/Concerts (selection) 

Solo recitals 

Selected Performances (last five years): Singapore (Esplanade Recital Hall- 5 recitals, CDs available); Seoul, Korea; Paris, France (Cité de la Musique- CD available); Istanbul, Turkey (International Festival- 3 recitals, CRRKS municipal concert-hall- 1 recital, 2 concerto performances); San Francisco, CA; Cincinnati, OH; St. Louis, MS; Providence, RI; Atlanta, GA; Storrs, CT; Geneva, NY; Bard College, NY; Philadelphia PA; Leuven, Belgium; Friedewald, Germany; Koblenz, Germany; Maynooth, Ireland; St Petersburg, Russia; and the following British locations: Arundel, Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Durham, Edingburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Oswestry, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton, Swindon. 

Chamber music recitals 

Performances in the UK with Colin Lawson clarinet: Belfast, Cambridge, Durham, Glasgow, Norwich, Nottingham, Sheffield, including three evening recitals on the University of Birmingham’s 1851 Erard piano, with a period clarinet. 

University concerts

9 June 2013: Piano Recital (Mendelssohn, Wagner/Liszt, Bach/Busoni, Bach/Rachmaninoff), Concert Hall, University of Rhode Island

24 June 2013: Piano Recital for 9th Biennial Conference on Music in 19th Century Britain Conference (Mendelssohn/Ireland/Elgar/Grainger/Rachmaninoff/Novello-Stevenson/Tauber-Stevenson), Cardiff University Concert Hall

27 November 2012 Piano Lecture-Recital, Bramall Music Building Festival, University of Birmingham: "John Ireland: A Semi-Centenary Tribute"/ Programme to include the Ireland Piano Sonata. 

42 recitals at the University of Birmingham, mostly evening solo recitals, lunchtime concerts and concerto performances (including Brahms 2, Saint-Saëns 5, Rachmaninoff 2, D’Albert 2, Beethoven 5 and Chopin 1) 

Lecture-recitals and Research Seminar Presentations (selection) At Birmingham University (for The Barber Institute of Fine Arts): 

  • Spring 2010 ‘Frédéric Chopin, 2 Bicentenary lecture-recitals’
  • Autumn 2009 ‘Liszt’s ‘Grand Fantasy on Bellini’s Norma’ 
  • Spring 2009 ‘Performing Beethoven’s Piano Music’ (2 lecture-recitals) 
  • Autumn 2007 ‘Images of Britain in Piano Music’ (2 lecture-recitals) Elgar and Ireland; Mendelssohn and the Celtic fringe 
  • Autumn 2006 ‘More Eccentrics at the Keyboard’ (2 lecture-recitals) Vladimir de Pachmann; Grainger – encore 
  • Spring 2005 ‘Piano Preludes – Piano Etudes’ (2 lecture-recitals) Chopin; Liszt and Rachmaninoff 
  • Spring 2004 ‘Eccentrics at the Keyboard’ (2 lecture-recitals) Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888); Percy Grainger (1882–1961) 
  • Spring 2002 ‘The Nineteenth-century Piano Sonata’ (3 lecture-recitals) Beethoven; Chopin; Liszt 
  • Spring 2000 ‘The Art of the Piano Transcription’ (4 lecture-recitals) Song Arrangements; Opera on the keyboard; Orchestral music; The Fantasia 
  • Autumn 1999 ‘Images of Chopin’ (4 lecture-recitals) The Early Years; Chopin, Field and the Nocturne; Barcarolle and Berceuse; The Ballades 


24 August 2013: "From Stein to Steinway: 300 Years of the Piano", Lecture-Recital, Edinburgh Festival, National Museum of Scotland

13 June 2013: "200 Years of Bach" (Bach/Bach-Liszt/Bach-Busoni/Bach-Rachmaninoff), Piano Recital, Bach Unwrapped Festival, Kings Place, London. Associated article: Kenneth Hamilton, “Confessions of an Unrepentant Bach Heretic” in Kings Place Magazine, April-June 2013, pp.14-15

7 June 2013: Gesprächskonzert: „Liszt als Lehrer“ (Lecture-Recital: "Liszt as Teacher"), University of Heidelberg

6 June 2013:Vortrag: „Der nicht so langsame Untergang des Präludierens am Klavier im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert: Eine aufführungspraktische Studie“. (Lecture: "The Delayed Demise of Preluding for Piano in the 19th and 20th Centuries: A Study in Performance-Practice), University of Heidelberg

17 May 2013: "Beethoven Symphonies: Arrangements and Derangements", Lecture-Recital at the Ludwig van Beethoven Festival, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

22 November 2012 'Performance Variants from the Earliest Piano Rolls' (Royal Academy of Music, London)

2012 ‘Tempo Flexibility in Historical Piano Performance’ (Royal Academy of Music, London) ‘Performance Practices of the Past: The Evidence of Piano Rolls’ (Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester) 2012 ‘Liszt’s Legacy to his Students’ (King’s College, London) 2011 ‘Liszt on Playing Liszt’ (Liszt Forum, International Piano Series, Purcell Room, London)

‘Arpeggiation and Asynchronisation in Historical Piano Playing’ (Royal Academy of Music, London)

2010 ‘The World of the Romantic Virtuoso: 2 lecture-recitals’ (King’s Place Festival, London)

‘Classical Improvisation on the Piano’ (Royal Academy of Music, London)

‘Confronting Chopin: Arrangements and Derangements’ (Chopin Forum: International Piano Series, Purcell Room, London)

‘Preluding for the Piano’ (Middlesex University, London)

2007  ‘Elgar and English Piano Music’ (Elgar and His World Festival, Bard College, NY)

2006  ‘Liszt’s Héxameron’ (Liszt and His World Festival, Bard College, NY)

‘Performing Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata’ (Leuven University, Belgium)

2005 ‘Liszt and Dawison’s Hamlet’ (Shakespeare Institute, Stratford on Avon)

2004  ‘Busoni and Liszt ’ (University of Connecticut, CT, US)

2003/4  ‘Romantic and Modern Piano Performance’ (Berkeley University, CA; Stanford University, CA, New England Conservatory, Boston, MA; Glasgow University; Edinburgh University; Surrey University)

2003  ‘Liszt’s Opera Fantasies’ (Washington University, St Louis, MS, US)

2002  ‘Alkan and the French Keyboard Tradition’ (Manchester University)

‘The Liszt Sonata’ (Oxford University)

2001  ‘Paderewski and Busoni’ (St Petersburg Conservatory, Russia)

2000  ‘The pianistic “great tradition”’ (Manchester University; Bristol University)

1999  ‘Form in the 19th-century piano Sonata’ (Leuven University, Belgium)

‘The Reubke piano sonata’ (Surrey University)

‘Liszt and Grainger’ (Queen’s University, Belfast)

‘Romantic Piano performance practice’ (The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama)

External Examining and Consultancies 

Goldsmith’s College, University of London; Royal College of Music; Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama; Birmingham Conservatoire; Royal Academy of Music; Queen’s University, Belfast, Oxford University; the University of South Carolina, College Conservatory of Music, Cincinnati, US, Converse College, US, University of Malta, University of Southampton, Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Assessor for the Leverhulme Trust; Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK, Social Sciences and Research Council, Canada, Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung(Austria), Oxford University Press; Yale University Press; Cambridge University Press; Routledge Press, Boydell and Brewer, University of Rochester Press, Ashgate Press, Indiana University Press, Music and Letters, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, Danish Yearbook of Musicology, Journal of the American Musicological Society.

Academic Schools