Rodney Friend is recognized internationally as one of the most outstanding English born violinists. As a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster, director and teacher he has appeared worldwide with the greatest musicians of the last fifty years. He made his London debut playing Sibelius concerto with the Halle Orchestra and his American debut playing Britten concerto with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Centre.
He has performed extensively as concerto soloist with major orchestras in Europe, North and South America, Scandinavia and the Far East under such conductors as Haitink, Boulez, Bernstein, Barbirolli, Mehta, Leinsdorf, Solti, Giulini, Davis and Roszdestvensky. Amongst his many recordings, his performances with the London Philharmonic of the Britten and Bach concertos for EMI received the highest critical acclaim.
He is presently Professor of violin at the Royal Academy of Music London. His many students have achieved success in all areas of violin playing. He travels extensively as a teacher and also as a jury member for the international violin competitions. In 2015 he was conferred a Member of the British Empire by the Queen for services to music.
A life made of friendships
Rodney Friend receives an open scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Frederik Grinke. Sir John Barbirolli accompanied him personally to this audition.
Sir John Barbirolli
“The soloist was Rodney Friend, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. He is a direct instrumentalist, and he gave the concerto an expert performance. It was the playing of supervirtuoso calibre, and the phrases were securely molded, his tone rang out sweet and true, and Mr. Friend once again showed what a sensitive musician he is.”
Harold C. Schonberg
Rodney Friend received the unique honour for a British player when he was invited by the New York Philharmonic to be their Concertmaster, playing concerts and recording worldwide with Bernstein, Boulez and Mehta. It is with these two orchestras that he recorded almost the entire orchestral repertoire.
“It is extremely rare to find a concertmaster of Friend’s standard who is also outstanding in personality as a performer. He plays like a born virtuoso who can’t help loving the music more than his own brilliance.”
New York Post
“Rodney Friend played the Benjamin Britten Violin Concerto last night in Avery Fischer Hall as if the unpredictable gods had chosen to name him sovereign.(..)
He played it with a stunning combination of alternating abandon and subtle restraint; he colored highly emotional music with the kind of imagination that made the violin not only sing but paint with a prism brush.”
New York Post
On his return to London he became concertmaster of the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Gennady Roszdestvensky.