Born in Dublin in 1958, Hugh Tinney first came to international recognition by winning first-prize in two international competitions, the 1983 Pozzoli in Italy and the 1984 Paloma O'Shea in Spain, and since then he has performed in more than 30 countries throughout Europe, the United States, South America and the Far East. Festival engagements have taken him to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, France, Japan and the USA, and he has broadcast on radio or TV in more than 15 countries.
In 1987, he was a prize-winner in the Leeds Piano Competition. Two years later he made his debut at the Proms playing Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, and since then he has had a busy career in the U.K., performing with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony, the Royal Scottish Orchestra and the London Mozart Players. He has also been a regular soloist for thirty years with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, touring with them in the U.K. in 1993 and performing with them at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1998. Conductors he has worked with include Simon Rattle, Norman del Mar, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Libor Pesek, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Kaspryk and, in Ireland, Colman Pearce, Bryden Thomson, Proinnsías O’Duinn, Alexander Anissimov, Gerhard Markson, Thierry Fischer and Kenneth Montgomery. He has performed more than sixty different concertos.
Hugh Tinney's contribution to Irish concert life over the past 20 years has been significant. Highlights include his 1991 “Chopin Plus” recital series at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin, later repeated in Cork; a second major recital series at IMMA in 1995, focussing on the late sonatas of Schubert; and in 1998, he completed a three-year project to perform the complete 21 original Mozart solo piano concertos at Dublin's National Concert Hall with the Orchestra of St. Cecilia. A complete cycle of the Beethoven concertos followed in 1999. All of these series received the highest plaudits from Irish critics and audiences. He played 6 different all-Beethoven sonata recitals at the Royal Dublin Society (2000-02); and he performed the full Beethoven sonata cycle jointly with Philippe Cassard and Joanna MacGregor at Bantry House in 2004. In January 2003, he gave a sell-out recital in Dublin's National Concert Hall as part of the NCH/Irish Times Celebrity Series. In November 2008 at the invitation of the RDS in Dublin he directed, and performed in, their Chamber Music Weekend to mark the occasion of his 50th birthday.
In 2010, concerts included Shostakovich and Mozart concerti with the RTE NSO, a tour of California with the Camerata Pacifica chamber ensemble, a concert in Cork for the centenary of Aloys Fleischmann’s birth, and the Irish premiere of U.S. composer Morton Feldman’s 90-minute solo piece Triadic Memories (1981) as part of the exhibition “Vertical Thoughts – Morton Feldman and the Visual Arts” at IMMA. In 2011, Hugh played his European Piano Masterworks series of three recitals at Dublin’s National Concert Hall and elsewhere in Ireland. In 2012, he toured China with the Academy Chamber Ensemble, and gave recitals in Ireland to celebrate the centenary of John Cage. Autumn 2012 will include Irish tours with Catherine Leonard and with the Academy Chamber Ensemble, as well as concerts in Paris and New York.
Chamber music partners have included the Borodin, Tokyo, Vanbrugh and Vogler Quartets, Steven Isserlis, Bernadette Greevy, Catherine Leonard, John Finucane, Carol McGonnell, Finghin Collins and John O'Conor. He played every year from 1997 to 2000 and again in 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2012 at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry. His interest in contemporary Irish music has led to new works commissioned from Raymond Deane and Ian Wilson; he premiered Wilson's Limena in 1999 in an 8-concert tour of Ireland with the Irish Chamber Orchestra. He was awarded a 2-year bursary by the Arts Council of Ireland to research, perform and record Irish and international contemporary piano music in 2006 and 2007. In autumn 2010, with assistance from the Arts Council he commissioned Raymond Deane to write a 40-minute set of 12 pieces, “Noctuary”, the first 6 of which were premiered in 2011.
Hugh Tinney's discography includes a Liszt recital for Decca, Liszt's Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses on Meridian, the Mendelssohn Concertos for 2 pianos on the Naxos label, the Aloys Fleischmann Piano Quintet (with the Vanbrugh quartet) and a collection of Irish songs with Bernadette Greevy, both of these on Marco Polo. He recorded Raymond Deane's After-Pieces for solo piano for a CD of Deane's works on Black Box. His CD of the piano solo and (with Catherine Leonard) violin/piano duo music of Ian Wilson was released by Riverrun in 2004 to excellent reviews, and Catherine and Hugh’s Beethoven CD (including the "Kreutzer" and "Spring" sonatas) for the RTE Lyric FM label has been widely praised since its 2007 release. Ian Wilson’s Limena (with the Belgrade Strings) was released on the Riverrun CD Sullen Earth in 2009, and another Ian Wilson work Re:Play (with the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet and others) was released by Riverrun in 2011. A solo CD of works including Schubert’s B flat sonata will be released by RTE Lyric FM in early 2013.
From 2000 to 2006, Hugh Tinney was Artistic Director of the Music in Great Irish Houses festival. He teaches at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and he has been a jury member at several international piano competitions, including Santander and Dublin. In 2003, he took part as principal pianist in the Sean O'Mordha documentary for RTE television “PIANO – The King of Instruments”. In September 2007, Hugh was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by the National University of Ireland.
Updated: October 2012 - Word Count 952