Performer  |  Mozart scholar  |  Education Consultant

Best known for his sensitive readings of the works of Haydn, Beethoven and especially Mozart, performer-scholar, John Irving is an established fortepiano recitalist in the U.K. and abroad. His historically-informed approach to performance is a parallel expression of his academic research. Over several decades, John’s published books on Mozart have become fundamental scholarly texts, found in libraries all around the world. He has recorded three solo CDs (on fortepiano, and on two historic keyboards: a 1763 clavichord, and a 1764 harpsichord) and several more with his chamber group, Ensemble DeNOTE, including Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio, and two of Beethoven’s self-arrangements (of the Septet, and the Piano & Winds Quintet).

Among his prestigious academic appointments John was Professor of Music at Bristol University; and subsequently Professor of Music at The University of London, where he was Director of The Institute of Musical Research, the UK’s national musicological research institute. He currently holds a Professorship at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.


‘Gorgeously subtle colouring’


‘Superbly inflected performances – outstanding’


‘I haven’t really heard a better performance of the Haydn sonatas on fortepiano – beautiful instrument, and you shaped the music as if making it newly – creating it.’

CD BABY (on John’s recording of Haydn Piano Sonatas)

‘One of the finest exponents of this music’    


‘Excellent performance…played with historical awareness and humour’


‘Beautiful – clarity and delight 5*****’

MICHELLE CASTELLETTI - Artistic Director, Oxford Festival of the Arts

‘Totally exquisite…sublime’


‘...wonderful colours …really sparkling passage work … elegant melodic lines. The entire performance was imbued with much joy and wit.’


‘Irving’s performances are balanced and exquisitely judged’ Presto Classical

John specialises in the music of the later 18th and early 19th centuries – on historical keyboards or modern copies.

International Piano has described his Beethoven playing as ‘Excellent…played with historical awareness and humour’. His Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven recordings (whether solo, or with his group, Ensemble DeNOTE) have garnered 5* and 4* reviews in The Observer, Guardian Classical and Early Music Review – the Mozart playing praised for its lyricism, inventive ornamentation and ‘gorgeously subtle colouring.’

His most recent solo CDs are Josef Haydn Piano Sonatas (Devine Music DMCD005, 2015) and John Irving Plays Mozart on the Hass Clavichord (sfzmusic, 2013). Recent and forthcoming appearances include King’s Place; Milton Court, Barbican Centre; Greenwich International Early Music Festival; LSO St. Lukes; St John’s, Smith Square; Brighton Early Music Festival; Deal Festival; North York Moors Chamber Music Festival; St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh; the Holywell Music Room, Oxford. Recent international invitations include recitals in Dublin; Lugano; Gent; Venice; Amsterdam and Valletta.


‘An author deeply, authoritatively and lovingly immersed in his subject’ MusicWeb International

An internationally-recognised authority on Mozart, John’s published works are found all over the world, and include six books on Mozart and numerous scholarly studies in academic journals. His studies of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas, String Quartets and Piano Concertos are core texts on higher education programmes in the UK and across North America. John was a consultant editor and author for The Mozart Project (2014), a prize-winning digital resource named iBook of the Year in 2015. He has contributed major articles to The New Grove Dictionary of Music, and to major reference texts such as The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Historical Performance in Music.

He has been a frequent keynote speaker at music conferences in the UK and abroad. Committed to public-facing aspects of research, John frequently delivers pre-concert talks, and has written numerous programme notes (for instance, for the BBC Proms and the Salzburger Mozartwoche) and CD booklets, including the complete recordings of Mozart Piano Concertos (for Ronald Brautigam on BIS) and Mozart Solo Piano Works (for Kristian Bezuidenhout on Harmonia Mundi). He is a regular specialist tour lecturer for Martin Randall Travel.


‘Professor John Irving was a joy to listen to, combining profound knowledge and a gift for lecturing’ (Celebrating Mozart participant Cultural Travel Company)

John’s distinguished academic career has seen Professorial appointments at several prestigious UK universities and conservatoires, and he has frequently been a visiting lecturer at universities in Europe and North America, notably on the EU’s ERASMUS programme. He is a regular teacher, adjudicator and examiner at universities and conservatoires in the UK (Royal Holloway, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Royal Northern College of Music…) and abroad (at conservatoires in France, Italy and Switzerland).

He has been a specialist research consultant for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and for parallel institutions in Austria and Belgium. He was formerly Vice-President of the Royal Musical Association, and Secretary and Treasurer of NAMHE (National Association for Music in Higher Education).