Iain Burnside

Credit: TallWall Media


Iain Burnside is a pianist who has appeared in recital with many of the world’s leading singers (“pretty much ideal” BBC Music Magazine). He is also an insightful programmer with an instinct for the telling juxtaposition. His recordings straddle an exuberantly eclectic repertoire ranging from Beethoven and Schubert to the cutting edge, as in the Gramophone Award-winning NMC Songbook. Recent recordings include the complete Rachmaninov songs (Delphian) with seven outstanding Russian artists (“the results are electrifying” Daily Telegraph). Burnside’s passion for English Song is reflected in acclaimed CDs of Britten, Finzi, Ireland, Butterworth and Vaughan Williams, many with baritone Roderick Williams.

Away from the piano Burnside is active as a writer and broadcaster. As presenter of BBC R3’s Voices he won a Sony Radio Award. For Guildhall School of Music & Drama Burnside has devised a number of singular theatre pieces. A Soldier and a Maker, based on the life of Ivor Gurney, was performed at the Barbican Centre and the Cheltenham Festival, and later broadcast by BBC R3 on Armistice Day. His new project Swansong has been premiered at the Kilkenny Festival and will play in Milton Court in November.

Future highlights include performances of the three Schubert songcycles with Roderick Williams at Wigmore Hall. A Delphian release of songs by Nikolai Medtner launches a major series of Russian Song in the 2018 Wigmore Hall season. Other forthcoming projects feature Ailish Tynan, Rosa Feola, Andrew Watts, Robin Tritschler and Benjamin Appl.

Iain Burnside is Artistic Director of the Ludlow English Song Weekend and Artistic Consultant to Grange Park Opera.


Performance Schedule



  • 19 Feb 16 'Duet' CD With Lucy Crowe and William Berger
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    But to call this CD ‘Duet’ is in one small way misleading: there are three vital artists here, not two. The third is, of course, the pianist Iain Burnside. His lightness of keyboard touch, his expertise in balancing and supporting the voices, and his sheer, audible love for this exquisite repertoire are simply matchless.
    Jessica Duchen, primephonic, 12 May 2016

  • 31 Dec 15 'Musica e Poesia' CD With Rosa Feola
    Opus Arte
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    “Pianist Iain Burnside is supportive and vivid throughout, especially when suggesting the flitting woodland spirits in Respighi’s Deità silvane.”
    Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 7 January 2016

    “Iain Burnside ripples with cool precision through accompaniments that might have been drawn from Debussy’s Préludes and Feola matches him in the gentle, flickering lights in her voice.”
    Richard Fairman, Gramophone, February 2016

  • 14 Dec 15 'Nacht und Träume' CD With Ailish Tynan
    Delphian Records
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    “If this opening instalment of pianist Iain Burnside’s latest project with Edinburgh’s Delphian label is indicative, we are in for a treat as he accompanies a selection of his favoured singers through the Schubert song catalogue. … Both musicians are on top form and the communication between them as eloquent as you’d wish, with every note crystal clear. A superb disc.”
    Keith Bruce, Herald Scotland, 6 December 2015

    “In this fresh new disc, soprano Aylish Tynan and pianist Iain Burnside delve deep into these “womanly” songs. … Burnside’s pianism is ever-sympathetic, ever-empathetic. Together they are a joy to listen to.”
    Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 21 November

  • 15 Apr 15 Recital With Ekaterina Siurina and Charles Castronovo
    La Monnaie, Brussels
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    “…l’accompagnement superlatif de Iain Burnside, formidable créateur d’atmosphères…”
    Bernard Schreuders, Forum Opera, 21 April 2015

  • 28 Feb 14 'Rachmaninov Songs' CD
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    “Burnside accompanies with his usual tact and intelligence. As a whole, the set is a very distinguished piece of work.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 24 April 2014

    “The star of the show is undoubtedly Burnside, playing throughout with unfailing intensity and sensitivity: voice and piano are truly equal partners here, and the results are electrifying.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 27 February 2014

  • 12 Aug 13 'Poème d'un jour' CD With Ailyn Perez
    Opus Arte
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    “Iain Burnside, a fine accompanist throughout, comes into his own here, playing Turina’s long opening Dedicatoria with tremendous nobility and fire.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 8 August 2013

  • 30 Apr 12 A Soldier and a Maker
    Barbican Pit
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    “…a compelling blend of music-theatre and drama-documentary.”
    Peter Reed, Opera magazine, July 2012

    “Iain Burnside is best known as a pianist, but in A Soldier and a Maker he shows himself to be a playwright of surprising technical skill […].  With its varied pace, confident line of action and recourse to comic interludes, Burnside’s vivid narrative has a freedom that transcends the normal confines of verbatim theatre.  It is extraordinarily moving.

    […] a production that sweeps the audience towards the terrible desolation of its conclusion, a sadness rendered all the more poignant by the two-hour musical celebration that precedes it.”
    Mark Valencia, WhatsOnStage, 22 April 2012

    “Burnside interweaves [Ivor Gurney’s] bleak biography with some of Gurney’s huge output of music and poetry, though most of it is still unpublished. There is some pragmatic telescoping of events […] but otherwise the play sticks closely to the documented facts of Gurney’s life. The pacing is a little uneven, but his remorseless mental disintegration is poignantly caught. His meeting with Helen Thomas, widow of the poet Edward Thomas […] is beautifully done.
    Andrew Clements,, 22 April 2012

    “Iain Burnside’s A Soldier and a Maker (the ‘Maker’ was Gurney‘s choice of word for his role as a poet and composer) – an ingenious combination of play, music-theatre and staged drama-documentary – deals fully with the tragedy of Gurney’s life. … If anything, the skill with which Burnside has introduced this levelling reality makes Gurney’s story even more moving, and parallel to the sequence of his life’s events is the process by which Gurney’s art has survived him, narrated with extraordinary effectiveness by his sister Winifred.

    [The] way in which Burnside lightly evoked any number of elements in Gurney’s life – the type of artist he was, his peers, the uneasy, post-Victorian straining at the emotional seams – is powerfully effective. And, in a very English, ‘blue-remembered’ context of lost this and that, you had a permanent lump in the throat that teetered on the brink of full-scale emotional incontinence. The way the text and Gurney’s songs flowed unselfconsciously in and out of each other was bad enough, the folding in of the songs ‘I’m homesick for my hills’ and ‘This is a sacred city’ loosened the floodgates even more, but there is one specific event, near the end, that was quietly tender and seriously tear-jerking. Judge for yourself.

    The simple, haunting designs and seamless direction of a large, multi-tasking cast set the seal on this moving portrait of a very English artist. If you love life, you’ll love this. Highly recommended.”
    Peter Reed,, 20 April 2012