Friday, 20 November 2015

Live: Musik und Malerei

Music and Kinetic Painting 
Musik und Malerei in Konzerthaus Berlin

It gives me great pleasure to announce a concert of kinetic painting and discussion with violinist Daniel Hope and pianist Sebastian Knauer in Konzerthaus Berlin, on April 25th 2016. One of seventeen concerts to pay homage to Yehudi Menuhin at the centenary of his birth in 1906. I'm touched and honoured by Daniel's invitation to take part in this historic celebration. Ever since I met Yehudi in 1963, he was very supportive of my work, became a dear friend and the first great musician to ask me to perform live paintings - to his performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, filmed for French Television by the legendary Bruno Monsaingeon in 1979. 

Now Daniel, after his lifelong personal friendship with Yehudi, has wondrously brought us all together again in music and painting - with William Walton's Violin Sonata, commissioned by Yehudi in 1947.

How timely this celebration is, in our troubled times! Not only was Yehudi Menuhin perhaps the most renowned violinist of the 20th century. He was a great humanist and philanthropist, campaigning ceaselessly for human rights and international understanding. He was the first world-class Jewish artist to play in Germany after World War II, as a statement of reconciliation. Until his death in Berlin in 1999 he believed in the unifying powers of music and in using it to change society for good.

Daniel is following in his footsteps. His fascinating books (in German) Familienst├╝cke and Sounds of Hollywood include accounts of how his ancestors in Berlin and many musicians fled the horrors of the Nazis. And how many of those musicians who migrated to the USA contributed to the creation of the special "Hollywood-sound" for the films of those years, music full of both sadness and hope.
Chatting with Yehudi Menuhin at Symphony Hall Birmingham in 1991
Daniel unites the three of us in my Amsterdam studio
A old clipping from the Luzerner Tagblatt in 1971, when Yehudi opened an exhibition of my paintings at his Gstaad Festival.

Here's the link to the concert Live; Musik und Malerei 
in Berlin on April 25th. See you there?

Sunday, 18 October 2015

My Memoir

My memoir on sale at 
 Symphony Hall Birmingham

I'm looking forward to being back in Birmingham on Wednesday October 28th, to autograph copies of my memoir A Life Painting Music and the new Norman Perryman Collection of fine art prints and greeting cards of a selection of my paintings of famous musicians. You will find Valery Gergiev, Andris Nelsons, Luciano Pavarotti, Bryn Terfel, Bernard Haitink, Yehudi Menuhin, a young Simon Rattle, The Mahler Experience and more.
The Symphony Hall Collection started in 1990 after a conversation with Director Andrew Jowett about my passion for painting musical subjects. His commissions to paint some of the musicians he had programmed for his first season eventually led to a collection of twenty-eight large watercolours and the 200 x 160 cm. canvas The Mahler Experience that illustrates my book cover. But my memoir also describes the making of many other works inspired by musical encounters worldwide. Each one has its own tale. Read my book to get the whole story!
For the next six months, you can purchase any of these new products exclusively at Symphony Hall, place orders at or phone +44(0)1216445144. Watch this space for alternative sales locations later next year.

On 28th you will find me in the foyer, during the afternoon, before the evening concert and during the interval (but not after the concert). 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Creative freedom in 2015!

Creative freedom in 2015!

If you can't read this, turn it anti-clockwise. 
It says, of course, 
Creative freedom in 1990

On my New Year's card of 1989/90, my long splayed brush was not just painting graffiti on a wall - it was my own simple way to slash through the Wall of political and cultural prejudice, to freely calligraph a message of optimism, a call for creativity in whatever language you speak, write, paint or play or sing. 

In November 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and we were all carried away with excitement about the consequences. That first celebration of German unity in Berlin saw Rostropovich playing the Bach Cello Suites and Bernstein conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, changing the words from Freude! (Joy) to Freiheit! (Freedom):

But twenty-five years later the message must still be writ large on walls everywhere.
Think creatively! 
Out of the box? Through the wall!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Birds free to migrate!

Birds free to migrate!

Thursday night I was one of thousands who watched, mesmerized, as Yo-Yo Ma playing the six Bach Suites for solo cello in the Royal Albert Hall. After this two and a half hour marathon, he took the microphone to say that in the light of the terrible things happening in the world right now, he wanted to play one more little song, a Catalan song arranged for solo cello by the legendary Catalan cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973). Not only did Casals revive public appreciation of the Bach Suites - he spent a significant part of his life in exile, in protest against the Franco regime in Spain, playing in protest at the plight of refugees around the world. This Song of the Birds has become a plea for freedom, said Yo-Yo, the freedom to live where you would like to live. What a beautiful and simple message in the language of music from one man on an otherwise empty stage.

Birds are free to migrate, singing to each other as they do. Are they trying to tell us something?
Yo-Yo Ma, watercolour 84 x 56cm, 1992. Birmingham Symphony Hall Collection

It's twenty-three years since I made this watercolour of Yo-Yo. Using the diagonal of the cello, this composition is based on triangles. Your gaze follows the dark tones down from the top right-hand corner to his face, listening. Then turns down the fingerboard where his fingers are delicately gamboling down towards his bowing action. It's all about balance.