The Australian pianist, James Brawn, was born in England, but has lived around the world in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Starting piano lessons in New Zealand at the age of 7, he performed Béla Bartók on New Zealand television and won his first awards in Auckland in 1979. Since his concerto debut in Australia with W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25, K.503 aged 12, Brawn has forged his own musical path of discovery, studying with great pianists who can trace their pedagogical lineage back to L.v. Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt and Clara Schumann.His family moved to Melbourne the following year where his musical studies blossomed through the 1980’s with Margaret Schofield (a pupil of Solomon), Ronald Farren-Price (a pupil of Claudio Arrau) and Rita Reichman (a pupil of Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski), winning major prizes at eisteddfods and scholarships including the Hephzibah Menuhin award presented by Yehudi Menuhin. While still at school, James performed concerti by W.A. Mozart, L.v. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2. He also reached the concerto final of the ABC Young Performers Awards in 1987, leading to concerts with the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony orchestras under conductors Omri Hadari and Patrick Thomas.
With a major overseas study grant from the Australia Arts Council, James Brawn was able to continue work with his mentor, Rita Reichman in Philadelphia, gaining a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 1988. There, he studied with Frank Wibaut and Christopher Elton, winning many recital awards including the Beethoven, Romantic and 20th century prizes, and performing in master-classes with great pianists including András Schiff, Tamás Vásáry, Stephen Kovacevich, Fou Ts'ong and Menahem Pressler. He also studied chamber music with members of the Amadeus and Chilingirian Quartets and attended the Britten-Pears and Lake District summer schools. At the age of 19, he won the Keyboard final of the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, performing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Recitals as soloist and in chamber music partnerships followed around the UK at music societies and festivals, including performances at the Purcell Room, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and St. James' Piccadilly. James furthered his studies with the Armenian pianist, Nelly Akopian-Tamarina, and the Slovenian pianist, Marina Horak. From 1993 to 2001, he taught piano and chamber music at King’s College and St. John’s College schools in Cambridge.
In 2001, James Brawn moved to Melbourne where he took up a position at Scotch College, in one of the finest music departments in Australia. Since that time he has worked on many artistic projects, performing for music societies, universities and festivals in Australia, China and the UK. He has recorded for for RTHK Radio 4 in Hong Kong, ABC Classic FM and 3MBS radio in Melbourne, and is co-founder of the biennial Scotch College Melbourne Piano Festival. Recent programmes have included 'The Time Traveller', 'Russian Promenade', 'The Bach Code' and 'My Beethoven Odyssey'.
James Brawn returned to the UK in 2010 and is currently based in the Cotswolds. He performs regular solo recitals in London, including St. James’s Piccadilly, Blackheath Halls, Foundling Museum, The Forge, Royal Over-Seas League and St. Olave Church. Significant engagements include the Bösendorfer concert series at St. Mary Magdalene and the ‘Pianists of the World’ series at St.Martin-in-the-Fields. He recently began his odyssey to perform and record the complete L.v. Beethoven piano sonatas through 2011-2015. In April 2012, recording started at Potton Hall in Suffolk working with producer Jeremy Hayes. This season, James performs solo recitals in London, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Chichester, Paris, Sicily, the Cotswolds, Manchester, Glasgow, Brunei, Hong Kong and New Orleans.