BIOGRAPHY

Internationally acclaimed as one of the most distinguished British violinists of his generation, Rodney Friend has appeared worldwide as a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster, director and pedagogue.

During the last sixty years, he has performed internationally as a soloist with major orchestras under conductors including Haitink, Barbirolli, Mehta, Leinsdorf, Solti, Giulini, Davis and Boult, as well as collaborating with composers Stravinsky, Britten, Walton, Bliss, Barber, Copland, Bernstein, Boulez, Hindemith, Tippett, Lutoslawski, Henze, Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies, Berio and Penderecki.

Rodney Friend made his London debut playing Sibelius concerto with the Halle Orchestra and his New York debut playing Britten concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Amongst his many recordings, his performances with the London Philharmonic of the Britten and Bach concertos for EMI received the highest critical acclaim.

In 1991 he formed the Solomon Trio with whom he toured Europe extensively, playing at such venues as La Scala Milan and recording much of the great trio literature for Carlton Records.  It is however as a Concertmaster where his experience and reputation is legendary.  In 1964 he became the youngest ever leader of the London Philharmonic, working closely with Bernard Haitink, Barenboim, Solti and Giulini.  In 1975 he received the unique honour for a British player when he was invited by the New York Philharmonic to be their Concertmaster, playing concerts and recording worldwide with Bernstein and Boulez.  It is with these two orchestras that he recorded almost the entire orchestral repertoire.
 
On his return to London he became concertmaster of the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Roszdestvensky and a professor and consultant of violin at the Royal College of Music, where he formed and directed The RCM String Ensemble.  Later, he joined the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music as a professor of violin.  Since 1990 he has worked solely in the areas of teaching, solo and chamber music. During this time, he has travelled extensively to give masterclasses and appear as a jury member for the international violin competitions. From 2012-2017, Rodney Friend was Artistic Director of the highly successful Cambridge International String Academy. His students continue to achieve success in all areas of violin playing.

In 2006 the first two volumes of his books, ‘The Orchestral Violinist’ were published by Boosey and Hawkes and received universal acclaim as being the most important works so far produced for this discipline.  2020 saw the successful launch of his book, ‘The Violin in 5ths’ by Beares Publishing.

The recipient of many awards, Rodney Friend has also received an MBE from her Majesty the Queen for services to music.

Acclaimed internationally as one of the most distinguished British violinists of his generation, Rodney Friend has appeared worldwide as a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster, director and pedagogue.

During the last sixty years, he has performed internationally as a soloist with major orchestras under conductors including Haitink, Barbirolli, Mehta, Leinsdorf, Solti, Giulini, Davis and Boult, as well as collaborating with composers Stravinsky, Britten, Walton, Bliss, Barber, Copland, Bernstein, Boulez, Hindemith, Tippett, Lutoslawski, Henze, Birtwistle, Maxwell Davies, Berio and Penderecki.

Rodney Friend made his London debut playing Sibelius concerto with the Halle Orchestra and his New York debut playing Britten concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Amongst his many recordings, his performances with the London Philharmonic of the Britten and Bach concertos for EMI received the highest critical acclaim.

In 1991 he formed the Solomon Trio with whom he toured Europe extensively, playing at such venues as La Scala Milan and recording much of the great trio literature for Carlton Records.  It is however as a Concertmaster where his experience and reputation is legendary.  In 1964 he became the youngest ever leader of the London Philharmonic, working closely with Bernard Haitink, Barenboim, Solti and Giulini.  In 1975 he received the unique honour for a British player when he was invited by the New York Philharmonic to be their Concertmaster, playing concerts and recording worldwide with Bernstein and Boulez.  It is with these two orchestras that he recorded almost the entire orchestral repertoire.
 
On his return to London he became concertmaster of the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Roszdestvensky and a professor and consultant of violin at the Royal College of Music, where he formed and directed The RCM String Ensemble.  Later, he joined the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music as a professor of violin.  Since 1990 he has worked solely in the areas of teaching, solo and chamber music. During this time, he has travelled extensively to give masterclasses and appear as a jury member for the international violin competitions. From 2012-2017, Rodney Friend was Artistic Director of the highly successful Cambridge International String Academy. His students continue to achieve success in all areas of violin playing.

In 2006 the first two volumes of his books, ‘The Orchestral Violinist’ were published by Boosey and Hawkes and received universal acclaim as being the most important works so far produced for this discipline.  2020 saw the successful launch of his book, ‘The Violin in 5ths’ by Beares Publishing.

The recipient of many awards, Rodney Friend has also received an MBE from her Majesty the Queen for services to music.

The Orchestral Violinist-Rodney Friend B
The Orchestral Violinist-Rodney Friend B
Rodney Friend-The Violin in 5ths.jpg

Concertmaster for thirty years:

London Philharmonic Orchestra
 New York Philharmonic Orchestra 
BBC Symphony Orchestra
 London Guest Leader & Director, English Chamber Orchestra

The Principal & Principal Guest Conductors during his tenure with these orchestras were:

London Philharmonic Orchestra:


Haitink | Giulini | Solti | Barenboim | Boult | Krips | Jochum | Dohnányi | Kubelik | Rostropovich | Shostakovich | Stokowski | Szell



New York Philharmonic Orchestra:
Bernstein | Boulez | Mehta | Levine | Leinsdorfl Ormandy | Abbado

BBC Symphony Orchestra:

Rozhedestvensky | Pritchard | Davis | Boulez | Slatkin | Ozawa | Maazel | Bernstein



London Symphony Orchestra:

Monteux | Szell | Dorati | Shuricht | Kertesz



Composer-Conductors worked with:
Stravinsky | Britten | Walton | Bliss | Barber | Copland | Bernstein | Boulez | Hindemith | Tippett | Lutoslawski | Henze | Birtwistle | Maxwell Davies | Berio | Schuller



With these orchestras, has recorded several times all the major concertos with the leading soloists:

Horowitz | Rubinstein | Arrau | Barenboim | Oistrakh | Stern | Milstein | Perlman | Zuckerman | Rostropovich


Recorded and performed more or less the entire repertoire with these orchestras and musicians worldwide


Worked from and performed the entire Mahler literature from the composer's personal markings and bowings, as he had performed it with the New York Philharmonic during his tenure as their musical director



ln London, recorded all of Elgar's music with Sir Adrian Boult, who gave most of the first performances of Elgar's works

As leader of the LSO played the Brahms symphonies with Carl Shuricht, who had studied and worked closely with the composer



With Josef Krips (Vienna Philharmonic) studied and played regularly all of the tone poems of Strauss

six Decades

In 1952 after receiving an open scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Frederik Grinke. Sir John Barbirolli accompanied him personally to this audition

First concert as LPO Leader in 1964. 23 year old Rodney Friend had been co- leader of the LSO for two years prior to this appointment, resigning his position in 1963 in order to concentrate on his many solo concerts, including his Festival Hall debut with the Halle Orchestra

Appointment as concertmaster of The New York Philharmonic in 1976 by Boulez and Mehta. This was the first time an English violinist had been offered such a prestigious position with one of the top five American Orchestras.

In 1981, Rodney Friend returned to England as Leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra also accepting the roll of Professor/Consultant at the London Royal College of Music

The Launch of the first two volumes “The Orchestral Violinist” published by Boosey and Hawkes in 2006. These works are unanimously acclaimed as being the most comprehensive and constructive works so far produced for this discipline. This unique concept will now be applied to the other orchestral instruments

Friend's International Violin Academy 2020

Founder / Artistic Director

Cambridge International String Academy (2012-2017)

Founder / Artistic Director

Awarded an MBE for 'Services to music' in the New Year's Honours List 2015

© 2020 by Rodney Friend

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