Buckingham Palace have today announced the award of the Queen’s Medal for Music to Imogen Cooper. Recently there’s been the welcome chance to hear this great pianist during Wigmore Hall's livestreamed series in June (Beethoven and Schubert miniatures, Beethoven op 110 and Janacek’s Dobrou Noc!, what a clever idea for a thoughtful encore.) It’s also well worth hearing, still available online, her radiant 70th birthday concert in the same hall, featuring the final three Schubert sonatas.
What an inspiration this unusual performer is, particularly amongst solo pianists; placing her repertoire firmly in the foreground and herself in the background. She has at her own admission made gradual progress building repertoire over many decades, and her serious, exploratory approach is such a refreshing counter-example to the constant sensationalism surrounding successful musicians nowadays.
Insightfully, Imogen Cooper has founded a Music Trust offering young post-study performers relaxed hours of mentoring with major musicians, herself included, in comfortable vacation settings. It’s well worth visiting her typically elegant website to learn a bit more about this fine enterprise, and indeed about her own atypical career and formative years. If you have only three minutes to spare, do visit a little video featuring Ms Cooper titled To My Younger Self, containing some excellent advice for anyone starting out in any profession or enterprise.