Olwen Morris grew up in war-time rural Wales, where she was first taught by Josef Gruenbaum, a musician and lawyer from Stuttgart, who with his family had fled Nazi Germany. Olwen made extraordinary progress, and enrolled at 14 as the youngest student at Cardiff College of Music, (later becoming the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama). She soon made her first early live broadcasts, including a concerto with the BBC Welsh Orchestra, and debut concerts in Cardiff’s City Hall and Reardon Smith Theatre.
At 16, she won scholarships to study piano and composition at the Royal Academy of Music. She continued her studies with the renowned pianist Vlado Perlemuter, pupil of Cortot and friend of Faure and Ravel. Olwen gave many solo BBC recitals, and played in major concert halls. Following Wigmore Hall recitals, The Times reviews read: “the Mozart was given a stylish yet engagingly fresh performance, the refined humour of the finale being realised to a nicety.”
Schubert’s B flat Sonata: “She presented the Andante in all its muted poignancy.”
Beethoven’s Variations Op. 34: “One admired her perfect command of ornamental filigree and her wide range of dynamic nuances.”
The Telegraph “Delicacy and precision” (Mozart K281) – and, “a particularly good impression, incisive tone and crisp even fingerwork” (Bartok)
In her youth she had studied chamber music with Andre Mangeot, Cecil Aronowitz and Peter Schidlof, whilst William Glock encouraged her solo playing and, together with Priaulx Rainier, her lasting interest in contemporary music
Later this led to first performances of works by Rubbra, Rainier, David Cox’s Milton song cycle, David Wynne’s Piano Suite and collaboration with Hoddinot on his piano sonata and a performance of Matthew Taylor’s Anniversaries and Intermezzi.
Olwen’s musical career extends to many areas. She forged links between students and teachers internationally, arranging for UK and Russian students to meet and work together on many occasions both here in UK and in Russia.
Teaching, directing church music, organ improvisation and chamber music have all played parts throughout a lifetime in music, but solo playing continues to remain the vital centre of it all.
Her performances of the Viennese classics are remarkable for their insight and depth, and her playing of French music for sensitivity to sensual sound, also reflecting her long close association with northern France, where her artist husband, David Morris painted.
These recordings were made over three days, July 20th–21st 2014 and August 8th 2016 in Henry Wood Hall, produced by Michael Ponder.