Kenneth van Barthold Obituary

It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing of long standing Jackdaws piano tutor Kenneth van Barthold, of cancer on 16 February 2016.

Jackdaws Tutor Kenneth van Barthold, by Clive BardaKenneth was born on 10 December 1927 to a Dutch mother and English father. He studied initially at a Dutch-speaking school in Indonesia, before relocating to England. His musical training then took him to France to study with Yves Nat at the Paris National Conservatoire of Music between 1948 and 1952, ensuring proficiency not only on the Piano and Fortepiano, but also in a third language. He would later add some German to that collection.

Much in demand as a recital and recording artist, Kenneth made recordings for Decca, Argo and Darmo. His performing career began in 1940 with his first broadcast at the age of 12 and continued with his first concerto performance in Bournemouth four years later. Over his career he would appear with the London Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra and London Classical Players, under the conductors Sir Adrian Boult, Raymond Leppard and Roger Norrington, and at venues such as the Wigmore Hall and the Royal Festival Hall. He also wrote and presented over 20 documentaries on various composers and performers for the BBC.

He had a good relationship with French composer Pierre Max-Dubois (1930 – 1995), having been contemporaries at the Paris Conservatoire in the early 1950s, although they lost touch for 20 years until they came back into contact in the 70s. Kenneth then gave the UK premiere of Max-Dubois’ Piano Sonata at the Purcell Rooms in 1991 and Pierre dedicated his set of Dix Préludes pour Piano to Kenneth by way of thanks, who gave the world premiere at the Wigmore Hall in 1995 though the composer was too unwell to attend and passed away several weeks later.

Kenneth released a CD of piano works on Darmo by the composer titled Hommage à Pierre Max Dubois, now out of print, including the Sonata, Preludes and Histoire de Piano.

Later in his career, as teaching became of much greater importance to him, he ran the Edinburgh Piano Workshop in association with Napier University for almost 40 years, giving the last course in August 2015. He also led regular shorter weekend piano courses at Jackdaws Music Education Trust in Somerset, developing a great friendship with founder Maureen Lehane.

Kenneth leaves behind a wife and four children.