Peter Donohoe was born in Manchester in 1953. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music for seven years, graduated in music at Leeds University, where he studied composition with Alexander Goehr, and the Royal Northern College of Music, studying piano with Derek Wyndham. He then went on to study in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod.
Since his unprecedented success as Silver Medal winner of the 1982 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, he has developed a distinguished career in Europe, the USA, the Far East, New Zealand and Australia. He is acclaimed as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique. In June 2011 he returned to Moscow as a jury member for the 14th International Tchaikovsky Competition.
During recent seasons Peter Donohoe’s performances included appearances with the Dresden Staatskapelle with Myung-Whun Chung, Gothenburg Symphony with Gustavo Dudamel and Gurzenich Orchestra with Ludovic Morlot. He also performed with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and played both Brahms Concertos with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Last season his engagements included appearances with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and an extensive tour o South America. He also took part in a major Messiaen Festival in the Spanish city of Cuenca, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Peter Donohoe played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Sir Simon Rattle’s opening concerts as Music Director. He has also recently performed with all the major London Orchestras, Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Symphony and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He was an annual visitor to the BBC Proms for seventeen years and has appeared at many other festivals including six consecutive visits to the Edinburgh Festival, eleven highly acclaimed appearances at the Bath International Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, and at the Ruhr and Schleswig Holstein Festivals in Germany. In the United States, his appearances have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Since 1984 he has visited all the major Australian Orchestras many times, and since 1989 he has made several major tours of New Zealand with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He has recently returned from a highly acclaimed tour of Argentina with the National Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
He has worked with many of the worlds’ greatest conductors including Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Andrew Davis and Yevgeny Svetlanov. More recently he has appeared as soloist with the next generation of excellent conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, Robin Ticciati and Daniel Harding.
He is a keen chamber musician and performs frequently with the pianist Martin Roscoe. They have given performances in London and at the Edinburgh Festival and have recorded discs of Gershwin and Rachmaninov. Other musical partners have included the Maggini Quartet, with whom he has made recordings of several great British chamber works.
In 2001 Naxos released a disc of music by Gerald Finzi, with Peter Donohoe as soloist, the first of a major series of recordings which aims to raise the public's awareness of British piano concerto repertoire through concert performance and recordings. Discs of music by Alan Rawsthorne, Sir Arthur Bliss, Christian Darnton, Alec Rowley, Howard Ferguson, Roberta Gerhard, Kenneth Alwyn, Thomas Pitfield, John Gardner and Hamilton Harty have since been released to great critical acclaim.
Peter Donohoe has made many fine recordings on EMI Records and has won awards for them including the Grand Prix International du Disque Liszt and the Gramophone Concerto award for the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto no. 2. His recordings of Messiaen with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble for Chandos Records and Litolff for Hyperion have also received widespread acclaim. His recording of Brahms’ 1st Concerto with Svetlanov and the Philharmonia Orchestra was voted best available recording by the US magazine Stereo Review.
Peter Donohoe maintains a strong artistic link with the area in which he now lives with his wife Elaine. His close association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra dates back to 1974, and he was the first conductor of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. He is vice-president of the Birmingham Conservatoire and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates of Music from the Universities of Birmingham, Central England, Warwick, East Anglia, Leicester and The Open University.
Peter Donohoe was awarded a C.B.E. - Commander British Empire for services to classical music in the 2010 New Years Honours List.