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Kenneth Hamilton

Professor Kenneth Hamilton

Head of School of Music, Senior University Dean for International Partnerships

+44 29208 74380
Music Building, Room 1.03, 31 Corbett Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3EB
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


Described by Tom Service in The Guardian as a "pianist, author, lecturer and all-round virtuoso", Kenneth Hamilton is well known as a concert pianist, recording artist and writer. He broadcasts regularly on the BBC and other international media channels. His recordings, including music by Bach, Chopin, Liszt and Stevenson, have attracted both critical acclaim and large audiences worldwide:

His best-selling After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Oxford University Press) was welcomed by Charles Rosen in the Times Literary Supplement as "full of wit and interest, and written with passion" and by Alex Ross in the New Yorker and as a "deft and sympathetic account of the old school virtuosos". It has been translated into several languages. It was a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year in the UK, a recipient of an ARSC award and a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in the US. Professor Hamilton has been a visiting artist at many international institutions, including the Franz Liszt Academy in Hungary and the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. He regularly gives concerts and masterclasses in China and the Far East, and has for many years performed annually in Singapore's Esplanade.

As Senior University Dean for International Partnerships, Professor Hamilton works closely with the Partnerships team to support Cardiff University's wider international strategy. He is also academic lead for the University's Global Opportunity Centre and the International Foundation Programme.







  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Preludes to Chopin - sonatas, barcarolle, polonaise. 5 October 2018.
  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Ferruccio Busoni. In: Lawson, C. and Stowell, R. eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Historical Performance in Music. Cambridge University Press
  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Richard Wagner. In: Lawson, C. and Stowell, R. eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Historical Performance in Music. Cambridge University Press
  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Eugen d'Albert. In: Lawson, C. and Stowell, R. eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Historical Performance in Music. Cambridge University Press
  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Friedrich Kalkbrenner. In: Lawson, C. and Stowell, R. eds. The Cambridge Companion of Historical Performance in Music. Cambridge University Press
  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Adolph Kullak. In: Lawson, C. and Stowell, R. eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Historical Performance in Music. Cambridge University Press
  • Hamilton, K. 2018. Theodor Leschetizky. In: Lawson, C. and Stowell, R. eds. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Historical Performance in Music. Cambridge University Press









  • Hamilton, K. 2009. Wagner and Liszt: Elective affinities. In: Grey, T. S. ed. Richard Wagner and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 27-64.
  • Hamilton, K. 2009. Beethoven's 'Tempest' sonata in performance. In: Bergé, P., D'Hoe, J. and Caplin, W. E. eds. Beethoven's 'Tempest' Sonata: Perspectives of Analysis and Performance. Analysis in Context. Leuven Studies in Musicology Vol. 2. Leuven: Peeters, pp. 127-163.






Book sections




Described as “an outstanding virtuoso- one of the finest players of his generation” by Moscow’s Kommersant; by the Singapore Straits Times as “a formidable virtuoso”; and by Tom Service in The Guardian as “pianist/author/lecturer/all-round virtuoso”, Scottish pianist and scholar Kenneth Hamilton concertises worldwide, and is a leading expert on historical piano performance. His publications and recordings have attracted both critical acclaim and a large audience, notably his much discussed After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Oxford University Press), which was welcomed as “full of wit and interest, and written with passion” by Charles Rosen (Times Literary Supplement) and as “a wonderful book” by James Fenton (The Guardian).

Hamilton's recent recordings for the Prima Facie label: Volumes 1 and 2 of Kenneth Hamilton Plays Ronald Stevenson, Back to Bach: Tributes and Transcriptions by Liszt, Rachmaninov and Busoni, Preludes to Chopin: Sonatas, Barcarolle, Polonaise and More Preludes to Chopin: Nocturnes, Waltzes and Other Works and Romantic Piano Encores have enjoyed outstanding reviews: "played with understanding and brilliance" (Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review); "an unmissable disk… fascinating music presented with power, passion and precision" (Colin Clarke, Fanfare); "precise control and brilliance" (Andrew Clements, The Guardian); "thrilling" (Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone); "a gorgeous recording and excellent performance" (Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide). Hamilton has also made the premiere recording of John Casken’s Six Wooded Pieces on the CD Stolen Airs ("a terrific disc", Colin Clarke, Fanfare). His latest release, the 2-CD Liszt album Death and Transfiguration, reached No.5 in the UK Official Classical Charts, and was a BBC Radio 3 "Recording of the Week". It also featured in the Guardian Best Classical New Releases of 2021, is a Gramophone Editor's Choice, and a Recommended Recording on Music Web International, AllMusic, and Klassik Heute.

More Preludes to Chopin (2020) was selected as one of Spotify's Very Best Classical New ReleasesPreludes to Chopin (2018) has been streamed online around one million times, and attracted intense attention for the originality of its performance style. For Dr Chang Tou Liang of the Singapore Straits Times it offers "a new way of listening to Chopin". Stefan Pieper (Klassik Heute) commented: "Hamilton’s approach to Chopin ignores the pianistic fashions of today’s music market, challenges the dogmas of historical performance practice, and offers an entire palette of new and intriguing experiences", while James Manheim (AllMusic) wrote: "The commercial success of this release shows how strongly audiences hunger for fresh interpretations of mainstream repertory, and a fresh interpretation is exactly what you get."

Hamilton has appeared frequently on radio and television in Britain, the US, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, China and Russia, including a performance of Chopin’s first piano concerto with the Istanbul Chamber Orchestra on Turkish Television, and a dual role as pianist and presenter for the television programme Mendelssohn in Scotland, broadcast world-wide by Deutsche Welle Channel. He is a familiar artist on BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service, and a keen communicator, enthusiastically promoting the understanding and enjoyment of music. Impatient with many of the tediously elitist formalities of the classical concert world, he is in the habit of addressing his audiences directly from the concert platform, informally presenting his repertoire "with energy and wit" (Anthony Tomassini, New York Times). In The Guardian, Sir Nicholas Kenyon praised his recent BBC Radio 3 broadcast, A Life in Music: "Now, O now, I needs must part", as „Revelatory...a personal story of loss and death that reaches out from the radio.That is what broadcasting is all about.“

As a writer, Professor Hamilton has published widely in the academic and popular press, the latter including a bicentenary article on Liszt for The New York Times (a "fine, unsentimental appreciation" according to Alex Ross). He does not regard professional and popular readerships as necessarily distinct, believing that the “cultured general reader” is an audience well worth cultivating, and that scholarship is of distinctly limited value if it caters only for other scholars.His monograph, After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance (Oxford University Press), became a Classical music bestseller, and has attracted a remarkable amount of attention worldwide, including reviews by Alex Ross in The New Yorker, James Penrose in The Wall Street Journal, and articles in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the China Times. Described by Stuart Isacoff as “Brilliantly researched, beautifully written, and filled to the brim with amusing anecdotes”, After the Golden Age was a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in the US, a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year in the UK, and the recipient of an ARSC Certificate of Merit for Research into Recorded Music. A revised Hungarian edition (translated by Klara Hamburger) was published by Rózsavölgyi in 2018 under the title: Az aranykor után - A romantikus zongorázás története, and a new edition in Mandarin (translated by Jennifer Ku) will appear in 2022 with Shanghai Music Publishers.

Professor Hamilton is also the author of Liszt: Sonata in B-minor (Cambridge University Press) and contributing editor of The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. His work has featured in The Nineteenth-Century Symphony (Schirmer), Mendelssohn in Performance (Indiana University Press), Wagner and his World (Princeton University Press), The Cambridge Companion to the Piano (CUP), and Beethoven’s ‘Tempest’ Sonata: Perspectives on Analysis and Performance (Leuven University Press), Mendelssohn: Interpretationen seiner Werke (Laaber), The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and The Oxford Companion to Music.

Among his further publications are: “The Sufferings and Greatness of Franz Liszt” (a modest mirror of Thomas Mann’s “Leiden und Größe Richard Wagners”) in Franz Liszt: A Chorus of Voices (Pendragon Press), “The Embarrassment of Influence: Liszt, Paris and Posterity”, in Liszt et la France (Editions Vrin), “Nach persönlichen Erinnerungen: Liszt’s Overlooked Legacy to his Students” in Liszt’s Legacies (Pendragon Press), Franz Liszt Defended Against His Devotees’ in Keyboard Perspectives ,“Après une Lecture du Czerny?: Liszt’s Creative Virtuosity" in Liszt and Virtuosity (University of Rochester Press), and "Do They Still Hate Horowitz?: The Last Romantic Revisited” in the Journal of Musicological Research.

Professor Hamilton has given keynote addresses at numerous international conferences, and spoken frequently at the annual meetings of the American Musicological Society. He has been Guest Professor at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, among other institutions, and has been a visiting artist at many universities and conservatories worldwide, including the New England Conservatory, Berkeley, Stanford, and Brown Universities in the US; the University of Leuven, Belgium; the University of Minho, Portugal; Musikeon, Valencia, Spain; Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea; Beijing Normal University, Xiamen University, South China Normal University, Jinan University, Guizhou University, Hunan Normal University, China; the Schola Cantorum, Basel; the St Petersburg Conservatory in Russia and the Princess Galyani Insitute of Music in Bangkok.

He himself is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and of Balliol College, Oxford-- and indebted to both Hugh Macdonald and John Warrack for their thought-provoking tuition in these respective institutions. His doctoral dissertation at Balliol was a critical study of the opera fantasias and transcriptions of Franz Liszt. At the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama his much valued piano teachers were Alexa Maxwell and Lawrence Glover. He later benefitted from the inspiring mentorship of Ronald Stevenson, whose music he has had the pleasure of performing and recording.

Subsequently, Hamilton was De Velling Willis Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and a member of the Music Department of the University of Birmingham, before joining Cardiff University as Head of the School of Music and Dean (International) of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As Dean he was involved in the establishment of the strategic partnership between Cardiff University and the University of Leuven, the Joint College for Chinese Language and Culture with Beijing Normal University, and Cardiff University’s Global Opportunity Centre (GOC). After serving nearly a decade as Dean with the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, he is now Senior University Dean for International Partnerships, and academic lead for the GOC and the International Foundation Programme.


Professor Hamilton has supervised many postgraduate dissertations, including work on the Violin Students of Leopold Auer, Instructive Editions of J.S.Bach, Liszt as Kapellmeister in Weimar, the Pianism of Paderewski, the Music of Charles Valentin Alkan, Performance Practices in Chopin, Chabrier and Wagner, 20th-century British Organ Performance-Practice, 18th-century English Parochial Organists, and Piano Music for the Left Hand.