John Henry (1945 – 2020)
Professorial Staff - Harpsichord
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Faculty of Music
King Charles Court
Old Royal Naval College
For thirty years John Henry enjoyed wide acclaim for for his live and recorded performances in his country and in the US. While perhaps best known for his interpretations of French harpsichord music, he performed from an extensive repertoire on other keyboard instruments, and recently presented an introduced recital at the Finchcocks Festival on harpsichord, clavichord and fortepiano.
John Henry regularly conducted master classes and delivered lectures on a wide range of subjects for schools, colleges and universities. Before joining the staff at Trinity College of Music in 1990, he was visiting senior research fellow in music at Westfield College, University of London. At Trinity Laban, as well as being harpsichord professor, he continued his pioneering performance practice for pianists.
” first and foremost for the romantic feeling behind it, and the imaginative registration and fastidious ornamentation through which he made the music speak.”
“As a good-humoured, informative and entertaining presenter of a programme, he has no peer.”
Music and Musician
“…passionate involvement in the music and his fertile imagination.”
John had a brilliant mind, dependent on braille, and a voracious reader, impressively well-informed about music. His ear was amazing…. Refusing to allow his blindness to tame his musical accomplishment and with his boundless and determined enthusiasm for life, he was an inspiration to us all.
– Richard Markson
John’s wide knowledge of music from obscure clavecinists to contemporary composers, jazz and pop, not to mention other subjects, was always stimulating and inspiring to me. One of his last public performances was in a lunchtime series at the Reform Club in London in February 2014. The organizer Michael Corby wrote: “His recital of Rameau and his contemporaries unlocked a treasure trove of music hitherto unknown…His virtuosity was astounding not just for a completely blind man but by any standards, and his learning encyclopaedic.”
– Douglas Finch
John was a key figure for many generations of Trinity College and Trinity Laban pianists in terms of expanding horizons, introducing us to Frescobaldi, Fröberger, CPE Bach, the English Virginalists and the French Clavecin repertoire. He inculcated a deep love of this repertoire in many generations of students, his legacy living on through their own work as performers and teachers.
– Aleks Szram
John was an awesome person. Full of life, and utterly brilliant…. During some of the recitals I sat behind John. I noticed how every tendon, every fibre of his neck and shoulders reacted to every sound he was hearing. His whole body made listened and responded, at a cellular level.
– Elena Riu
John had such a brilliant, dry sense of humour and was fiercely independent. I used to really enjoy our walks when I studied at Trinity. He would ask me to accompany him from the main building to the practice annexe down the road. We would have conversations about everything and anything to do with music…. I will miss him very much.
– Sophia Russell
As Head of Keyboard, it seemed a good idea to team up John with another great musical character, Roger Green. For many years the Baroque Class became not so much a tutorial as a comedy double act combining two unique and contrasting musical personalities. These legendary classes enabled several generations of students to learn from John and to savour his wit and wisdom.