Gerald Moore

English pianist Gerald Moore was most famous as a Lieder accompanist, best known for his work with singers such as Kathleen Ferrier, Elena Gerhardt, John McCormack, Elisabeth Schumann and Maggie Teyte, although he also accompanied instrumentalists such as Pablo Casals, the child prodigy Josef Hassid, and many other renowned musicians. He did much to raise the status of accompanist to that of an equal artistic partner, both through performances and writing, including his influential 1943 book The Unashamed Accompanist. Moore also lectured and wrote about music, publishing Singer and Accompanist in 1953, his much-admired memoir Am I Too Loud?: Memoirs of An Accompanist in 1962, The Schubert Song Cycles (1975), as well as two other autobiographical volumes, Farewell Recital: Further Memoirs (1978) and Furthermoore (1983).

Although he appeared several times as a soloist in his youth and was a splendid interpreter of the duo-sonata literature, he made his most vivid impression in the song repertoire. His reputation was so high that he won the Grand Prix du Disque, usually reserved for outstanding soloists, four times. ‘Moore’s strength lay not only in the vastness of his repertory,’ William S. Mann wrote in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ‘nor even in the beauty of his legato playing, his subtle command of pedaling and his mastery of tone color, but more especially in his chameleonic empathy with every musical partner—whether Casals, Chaliapin or a young debutant recitalist—and his readiness to turn every partnership to musical advantage of a refreshing and inspiriting nature.’

Born in Watford, England, on 30 July 1899, he started piano lessons aged 6, at the insistence of his mother. His family moved to Canada when he was 13, where, three years later, he began his career, accompanying a cellist and a tenor on a provincial. In 1919 he returned to England to study with Wallis Bandey, Michael and Mark Hambourg, but considered the tenor John Coates, with whom he began working in 1925, as the man who taught him about accompaniment. Moore’s career spanned more than half a century, and has been described as ‘a nonstop succession of great singers and instrumentalists, tours and recordings’. He began a second career during World War II when pianist Myra Hess invited him to lecture on the art of accompaniment at the National Gallery. He repeated his lecture, later published as The Unashamed Accompanist, throughout Britain and the United States, and also gave regular masterclasses throughout the world on the subject of interpretation.

Moore was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1954. In 1973, he was awarded the Hugo Wolf Medal in Vienna.

At his farewell concert in 1967, he accompanied three of the singers with whom he was long associated: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Victoria de los Angeles and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. After his retirement from the recital stage, he continued to record, to teach and to lecture for some years, making his final recording in 1975. He died in Buckinghamshire.