Piano, Collaborative Pianist
Julius Drake, described by The New Yorker magazine as the ‘collaborative pianist nonpareil’, lives in London and enjoys an international reputation as one of the finest instrumentalists in his field, collaborating with many of the world’s leading artists, both in recital and on disc. He appears regularly at all the major festivals and music centres: the Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Munich, Schubertiade, and Salzburg Music Festivals; Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, New York; The Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; the Philharmonie, Berlin; the Châtelet and Musée du Louvre, Paris; La Scala, Milan; Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid; Musikverein and Konzerthaus, Vienna; and Wigmore Hall and the BBC Proms, London. Director of the Perth International Chamber Music Festival in Australia from 2000 to 2003, Julius was also musical director of Deborah Warner’s staging of Janáček’s ‘The Diary of One Who Disappeared’, which toured to Munich, London, Dublin, Amsterdam, and New York. Since 2009, Julius has been Artistic Director of the Machynlleth Festival in Wales.
Julius’ passionate interest in song has led to invitations to devise song series for Wigmore Hall, London; The Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; the 92nd Y, New York; and the Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin. His annual series of song recitals – Julius Drake and Friends – in the historic Middle Temple Hall in London, has featured recitals with many outstanding vocal artists including Sir Thomas Allen, Olaf Bär, Ian Bostridge, Dame Sarah Connolly, Alice Coote, Lucy Crowe, Angelika Kirchschlager, Iestyn Davies, Veronique Gens, Sergei Leiferkus, Dame Felicity Lott, Simon Keenlyside, Christopher Maltman, Mark Padmore, and Sir Willard White. Julius is frequently invited to perform at international chamber music festivals – most recently, Lockenhaus, Austria; West Cork, Ireland; Oxford, England; and Boswil, Switzerland.
Julius holds a Professorship at Graz University in Austria for Music and the Performing Arts, where he has a class for song pianists. He is also a Professor of Collaborative Piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He is regularly invited to give masterclasses worldwide; recently in Aldeburgh, Brussels, Utrecht, Cincinnati, New York, Toronto, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, Vienna, and annually at the Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien.
Read more Julius’ many recordings include a widely acclaimed series with Gerald Finley for Hyperion Records (from which ‘Songs by Samuel Barber’, ‘Schumann: Dichterliebe & other Heine Settings’ and ‘Britten: Songs & Proverbs of William Blake’ won the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Gramophone Awards); award winning recordings with Ian Bostridge and Alice Coote for EMI; several recorded recitals for Wigmore Hall Live with artists including Joyce DiDonato, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Christopher Maltman and Matthew Polenzani; recordings of French Sonatas for Virgin Classics with Nicholas Daniel; Kodaly and Schoeck cello and piano sonatas with Natalie Clein and Christian Poltéra for Hyperion Records and BIS Records; Tchaikovsky and Mahler songs with Christianne Stotijn for Onyx Classics; English song with Bejun Mehta for Harmonia Mundi; and Schubert’s ‘Poetisches Tagebuch’ with Christoph Prégardien, which won the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2016. Julius’ most recent CDs have been widely critically acclaimed and include Janáček’s ‘The Diary of One Who Disappeared’ with tenor Nicky Spence and mezzo-soprano Václava Housková, winner of a 2020 Gramophone Award and a 2020 BBC Music Magazine Award; ‘Paradise Lost’ with the soprano Anna Prohaska; and Volume 6 of the Liszt Complete Songs (Hyperion Records) with the soprano Julia Kleiter. The second CD in this Liszt series with Angelika Kirchschlager won the BBC Music Magazine Award in 2012. Future planned concerts include recitals in Barcelona and Vilabertran with Dame Sarah Connolly and Julia Kleiter; at the Salzburg Festival with Gerald Finley; at the Schubertiade Festival in Austria with Christoph Prégardien and Ian Bostridge; at the Konzerthaus in Vienna with Anna Prohaska; at Wigmore Hall in London with Catriona Morrison and Konstantin Krimmel; in Brussels and Madrid with Eva-Maria Westbroek; as well as a major tour of the USA with Gerald Finley.
Julius’ many recordings include a widely acclaimed series with Gerald Finley for Hyperion Records (from which ‘Songs by Samuel Barber’, ‘Schumann: Dichterliebe & other Heine Settings’ and ‘Britten: Songs & Proverbs of William Blake’ won the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Gramophone Awards); award winning recordings with Ian Bostridge and Alice Coote for EMI; several recorded recitals for Wigmore Hall Live with artists including Joyce DiDonato, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Christopher Maltman and Matthew Polenzani; recordings of French Sonatas for Virgin Classics with Nicholas Daniel; Kodaly and Schoeck cello and piano sonatas with Natalie Clein and Christian Poltéra for Hyperion Records and BIS Records; Tchaikovsky and Mahler songs with Christianne Stotijn for Onyx Classics; English song with Bejun Mehta for Harmonia Mundi; and Schubert’s ‘Poetisches Tagebuch’ with Christoph Prégardien, which won the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 2016.
Julius’ most recent CDs have been widely critically acclaimed and include Janáček’s ‘The Diary of One Who Disappeared’ with tenor Nicky Spence and mezzo-soprano Václava Housková, winner of a 2020 Gramophone Award and a 2020 BBC Music Magazine Award; ‘Paradise Lost’ with the soprano Anna Prohaska; and Volume 6 of the Liszt Complete Songs (Hyperion Records) with the soprano Julia Kleiter. The second CD in this Liszt series with Angelika Kirchschlager won the BBC Music Magazine Award in 2012.
Future planned concerts include recitals in Barcelona and Vilabertran with Dame Sarah Connolly and Julia Kleiter; at the Salzburg Festival with Gerald Finley; at the Schubertiade Festival in Austria with Christoph Prégardien and Ian Bostridge; at the Konzerthaus in Vienna with Anna Prohaska; at Wigmore Hall in London with Catriona Morrison and Konstantin Krimmel; in Brussels and Madrid with Eva-Maria Westbroek; as well as a major tour of the USA with Gerald Finley.
Pianist Julius Drake, with his frequent recital partner bass-baritone Gerald Finley, begins a tour around the US on the 27 January to 09 February. The five-stop tour has a characteristically wide-ranging programme, featuring works by Schubert, Hugo Wolf and...
The 2020 Gramophone Category Award winners were announced on 22 September, and IMG Artists is thrilled to congratulate Julius Drake, Kirill Gerstein, Christian Immler, Jakub Józef Orliński, Sandrine Piau and Luca Pisaroni on their wins. Our Artists have been honoured...
Julius Drake returns to Wigmore on in recital with oboist Nicholas Daniel. The concert will be broadcast live at 13:00 BST on BBC Radio 3 and streamed on Wigmore Hall’s website. The programme, spanning from 19th century romantic works through to jazz standards,...
“To hear the pianist Julius Drake play “Die Schone Mullerin is to ponder whether Schubert’s work is actually a song cycle for the piano with vocal accompaniment, instead of the inverse. On a new recording with the Canadian baritone Gerald Finley, Drake doesn’t pull focus from the vocalist so much as he pursues independent ideas that flow harmoniously alongside Finley’s warm singing. The piece justifies this approach: a babbling brook figures prominently in the text and in the keyboard writing, and the final two songs are sung from its perspective.
The performers barrel through the opening songs, all robustious and happy-go-lucky, as the narrator, a miller, follow a stream to the maid he loves. Newly awakened to his feelings, Finley’s miller sounds exuberant, vulnerable, and unprepared for the heartbreak to come. Drake weaves his parts crisply,as if they were a counterpoint by Bach — whose name, incidentally, means “brook” in German.”
“Julius Drake, her partner in this outing, seemed to encourage Cooke’s savoring of text and rubato. The womanly warmth of her tone, as she and Drake took their time over each phrase, added to the feeling that the first song is an act of memory.
From there Cooke seemed to go back in time in the next three songs. The fourth song, “Du Ring an meinem Finger,” turned slow and tender as she admires her engagement ring, with Drake paying attention to the curling details of inner lines of the piano part.
Drake excelled in the greater challenges of the Beethoven, creating a murmuring accompaniment in “Leichte Segler” and whispered blue-note bird-call trills in “Es kehret der Maien.””
Sasha Cooke and Julius Drake, Terrace Theatre, 17th October 2020
“Drake is similarly at his best here, providing darkness as well as wit in ‘Enfant, si j’étais roi’ and a real display of virtuosity, drama and colour as the boat sinks in ‘Die Loreley’. A marvellous disc and a great recital in its own right, this is arguably the finest instalment of the series to date. Do listen to it.”
On LISZT Complete Songs Vol 6 (Julia Kleiter)
“Julius Drake handles the piano writing wonderfully by turns tender and poignant, urgent and explosive as Janáček takes us from the first flash of young love to self-hatred, doubt and tortured destiny”
On Leos Janáček’s “Diary of One Who Disappeared”
“Mr. Drake played commandingly, including a piano solo depicting the consummation of this impulsive love — fitful music of hurtling chords and steely harmonies.”
Matthew Polenzani and Julius Drake, Carnegie Hall, 23 February 2019
“Drake was theatrical in the best sense, too, stressing the heart’s pounding in the repeated bass notes of “Aufenthalt” (Resting Place), plunging after the interval into the anguish of “Atlas”, supporting the bleakness of three of the Heine settings, moving with Finley to a truly shattering operatic climax in “Der Doppelgänger” (The Wraith), stretching pauses and silences with an intensity derived from the careful placing of the notes around them. Greedy of me, I know, but with playing as sublime as this, I’d have liked two more final inspirations for piano solo too…”
Gerald Finley and Julius Drake, Middle Temple Hall, 2nd October 2018
They used to be called accompanists, a term both misleading and dismissive. But if the pianist in a Beethoven violin sonata or Schubert song has now come to be recognized as a full partner, it is because of Julius Drake and musicians like him.
Friday night’s Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the Perelman Theater by the Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley could have been just fine with any number of pianists. It was Drake, though, who was at the keyboard, and his personality glows. In a group of Rachmaninoff songs, he was the propelling force, unfurling harmonic tension in waves. In quiet Beethoven, a string of single notes telegraphed the song’s emotional truth.
Every musical decision he made flowed from the text of a song. In Schubert’s “An den Mond” (“To the Moon”), he made the music glide like the river in Goethe’s poem, and for “An Schwager Kronos” (“To Coachman Kronos”) he emphasized the sense of journey that ends in the arms of Orcus, god of the underworld. He gave the same composer’s “Prometheus” Wagnerian grandeur.
Recital with Gerald Finley, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, April 2018
“Julius Drake’s exquisite piano accompaniment was a constant joy in a performance which, characteristically, always did more than support, yet somehow never overwhelmed or eclipsed, his fellow musicians. Drake’s exceptional touch welcomes us into the sound world of each piece with lucid sincerity, with passages of vibrant emotional expression giving way to calm elegance or tender pathos.”
Mark Padmore and Friends, Snape Maltings, March 2018
“Drake’s splendid way with the all-important piano parts made him no mere accompanist, but a fully engaged partner in musico-poetic illumination.”
Schubert Recital with Christoph Prégardien, 18th February 2018
“At the piano was Julius Drake, perhaps the preeminent lieder accompanist working.”
“Throughout the concert, Drake was unfailingly energetic in the more extroverted songs, and let soft chords linger in the air in the more introverted ones. But in “Im Frühling,” the textures in Schubert’s accompaniment shift subtly. Drake shaded all of these changes with taste and suppleness. Each was audible, but never obtrusive.”
Poetisches Tagebuch with Christoph Prégardien, Mandel Hall, Chicago
18th February 2018
“The pianist, Julius Drake, was amazing. He was with Bostridge every step of the journey, supporting one moment, edging him forward in another. His playing was as solid, shaded, imaginative, and supportive as I have ever heard. His soft playing perfectly matched the singer’s intonation. His vigorous keyboard work was note-perfect. But the colors that he coaxed from the piano really were beyond belief. His playing painted every scene with absolute perfection.”
Winterreise, Brendle Hall, Winston Salem,
8th February 2018
“Drake made the piano part sound positively incandescent. For my money, this inspired accompanist is now the best in the business.”
“The songs were accompanied by Julius Drake – whose piano playing throughout was, as usual, inspired and sensitive”
Barry Creasy, MusicOMH February 2018
“Feinsinnig, vielseitig und einfühlsam begleitet wurde Coote an diesem Abend von einem als idealer Partner bekannten Pianisten, Julius Drake.”
“Delightful, versatile and sensitive, Coote was accompanied on this evening by a pianist known to be an ideal partner, Julius Drake.”
Die Presse, December 13th 2017
“Doch speziell im ersten, im Schubertteil des Liederabends ertappte man sich dabei, wie die Aufmerksamkeit immer wieder von der vokalen Führungskraft zum “Vasallen” abwanderte. Julius Drake hatte einen fantastischen Abend, mit virtuoser Leichtigkeit mischte er die Hintergrundfarben für das Hauptausstellungsstück eines Liederabends, die Singstimme.
Er kleidete Gerald Finleys festen Stimmkörper in mal luftige, mal wärmende Klanghüllen. Der Brite war… Sturm und Hauch, Frost und Glut. Eine außergewöhnliche Leistung, die die Kunst als Tochter des Handwerks und des Genies auswies.”
“But especially in the first half, during the Schubert section of the programme, one caught one’s attention migrating again and again from the soloist to the accompanist. Julius Drake had a fantastic evening; with virtuosic ease, he blended the background colours around the main exhibit of an evening of song: the singing voice.
He clad Gerald Finley’s strong vocal body in a sometimes airy, sometimes warm, encasement of sound. The Briton was… both storm and breath, frost and glowing embers. This was an exceptional performance that defined art as the daughter of craftsmanship and genius.”
Stefan Ender, Der Standard, Vienna May 2017
“Here they were most eloquently interpreted by Coote and her unfailingly sensitive yet never unduly recessive piano partner Julius Drake. Whether thrillingly extravert in “Wanderlied”, ecstatically impassioned in “Stille Tränen’ or warmly melancholy in “Alte Laute”, they held the audience rapt: the silence in the hall as the last note faded was something magical and even holy.”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph January 30th 2017
“…but the gain was in total rapport between pianist and singer, pauses and silences pregnant with anguish or expectation.”
David Nice, The Arts Desk January 24th 2017
“With Julius Drake contributing exquisite accompaniments, one felt that De Niese truly inhabited the world and emotions of the lovesick herding girl.”
“In a group by Hugo Wolf, imagination and execution began to gel, greatly inspired by the rapport with her unfailingly eloquent and supportive pianist Julius Drake. “Um Mittternacht” was beautifully restrained and “Verborgenheit” nobly shaped, while “Nimmersatte Liebe” nailed the poet’s wordly-wise shrug with wry gentle wit.”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph Sept 14th 2015
“Mr. Drake delivered an outstanding performance at the piano. Through the near constant manipulation of the pedals, he created a vast palette of colors that ranged from the blustery introduction to “The Weather Vane” to glassy droplets in “Frozen Tears” and Mozartean grace in “Dream of Spring.” He was also the driving force behind the performance’s excellent pacing, contrasting rushing passages with moments of rest that often took on an uncomfortable staring quality.”
“Drake made the piano part sound positively incandescent. For my money, this inspired accompanist is now the best in the business.”
“However, the finest musician on stage was neither of these. It was pianist Julius Drake. The way he created a lofty, epic mood in the song Talismans, then held back to allow Bostridge to soar over the top — with no loss of grandeur — was the most eloquent moment of the evening.”
“Julius Drake is responsible for much with pianism that is subtle and perfectly matched to [Gerald] Finley’s conception, and the sound is warm and as dark as the music.”
“The [Hollywood] Songbook’s stylistic and textual complexity make it daunting for interpreters. As part of his Perspectives series, however, pianist Julius Drake has scheduled it as a vehicle for Christopher Maltman, eliciting from him one of the finest performances of his career to date. […] Drake, who has similarly done nothing finer, matched Maltman’s every emotional shift with playing of disturbing intensity. Devastating stuff, and one of the great recitals of recent years. “
“In Julius Drake they were joined by a character actor at the piano, who slipped into the many roles assigned to him with great dexterity and dramatic instinct.”
“Constantly sympathetic, Julius Drake sustained drama, cumulative logic and easy virtuosity at the keyboard. He also made delirious sense of the impossible patter-clatter of “Klinge, klinge, mein Pandero”.”
“Julius Drake proved an adept and equal collaborator, evoking stormy weather, glinting fishes and chirruping crickets with the same dramatic immediacy that Finley brought to bear.”
“None of it would have worked so well, however, without Drake, whose intelligent yet emotive playing exposed every facet of Wolf’s piano writing. One of the great recitals, and absolutely outstanding.”
“But much of the Canticles’ atmospheric power was conveyed by three wonderful instrumentalists: the harpist Lucy Wakeford, the impeccable Richard Watkins on horn, and especially Julius Drake, investing the piano parts with a drama and supple clarity that Britten would have admired.”
“This is the second installment of Hyperion’s retrospective of Liszt’s complete songs, the brainchild of pianist Julius Drake, and one of the most important recording projects of recent years. […] With mezzo Angelika Kirchschlager, Drake now steers us into territory that is altogether more reflective, while some of Liszt’s most familiar songs, such as Es Muss ein Wunderbares Sein, are included in the programme. […] Drake is outstanding throughout.”
“Here the musicianship of Julius Drake was significant. He was able to tease out the long, arching melodic lines through meticulous use of the sustaining pedal ensuring rhythmic clarity and scene-setting.”
“What made the afternoon all the finer was Bostridge’s seamless partnership with piano accompanist, fellow Brit Julius Drake. The two artists worked as one to wring every increment of expression and meaning out of a substantial programme of Lieder.”
“Drake’s pianism cast its share of enchanting spells, as in the brightness of Morgens steh’ ich auf und frage and the chromantic sweeps swirling like smoke from a breeze-blown candle throughout Mit Myrten und Rosen.”
“Julius Drake always manages to make it appear that the singer he is accompanying is the only one on his books, and theirs the only possible interpretation…”
“…Pianist Julius Drake shirked nothing of virtuosic breadth, and […] tore into the boisterous Genialisch Treiben with gusto. Indeed, Drake’s eye for characteristic detail in Wolf’s tricksy accompaniments was an asset throughout.”
“Coote and her equally brilliant accompanist, Julius Drake, lavished on their audience an entire evening of songs in English, giving more attention to tone and color than I have heard in many a year. “
“…At his side the formidable pianist Julius Drake, who clearly shares Finley’s passion for Schumann and repeatedly creates magical moments throughout this performance… “
“Julius Drake, always a joy to hear, appeared to relish the character, and provided both a stylistic support and a dramatic sparring partner for Bickley, as well as a masterclass for the audience in the magic that breeds when sheer musicality bridges the gaps between a singer’s intention and a pianist’s instinctive understanding. “
“…the precisely matched, masterful accompaniment from Julius Drake led the audience through the world of the early and late Romantic.”
With Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
“Cooke and Drake lavish sympathy and understanding on these challenging exemplars of Liszt’s austere, introverted and prophetic late style.” – The Washington Post
With Gerald Finley, bass-baritone
“Julius Drake, accompanying, is equally lyrical, fluent, expressive. Neither lets the music shout…The disc lends itself to repeated exploration.” – The Observer
With Mark Padmore, tenor; Iestyn Davies, countertenor; Marcus Farnsworth, baritone; Lucy Wakeford, harp; Richard Watkins, horn
2013, Wigmore Hall Live
“Drake’s piano playing is superb, whether it be the jarring camel ride or the glacial cold of ‘the very dead of winter’.” – International Record Review
With Gerald Finley, bass-baritone
“Drake is perfectly attuned to the palette of shifting colours in Finley’s dark baritone – here in top form.” – BBC Music Magazine
With Angelika Kirchschlager, mezzo-soprano
“Kirchschlager and Drake deliver performances that set the beauty and inventiveness of each song in high relief … not to be missed.” – International Record Review
With Matthew Polenzani, tenor
2011, Wigmore Hall Live
“Drake, everywhere a perceptive and supportive accompanist, gives time and space for [the Beethoven] to breathe, and links them with beautifully played preludes and postludes.” – BBC Music Magazine