Cyril Smith (pianist)

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Cyril Smith
Birth name Cyril James Smith
Born (1909-08-11)11 August 1909
Middlesbrough, England
Died 2 August 1974(1974-08-02) (aged 64)
East Sheen, London, England
Genres Romantic, 20th century
Occupation(s) Virtuoso pianist, pedagogue
Instruments Piano

Cyril James Smith OBE (11 August 1909 – 2 August 1974)[1] was a virtuoso concert pianist of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, and a piano teacher.

Personal life

Cyril James Smith was born at Costa Street, Middlesbrough, England, the son of Charles Smith, a foundry bricklayer, and Eva Harrison, and had an older brother and sister.[2] Cyril married Andrée Antoinette Marie Paty in 1931 but the marriage ended in divorce.[2] In 1937 he married Phyllis Sellick. Cyril and Phyllis's recreational activities included long walks and sailing. They had a son and a daughter and remained married until his death. He died in 1974 at his home in East Sheen, London, the result of a stroke.[2][3]


From 1926 to 1930 Cyril Smith studied with Herbert Fryer (a student of Tobias Matthay and Ferruccio Busoni) at the Royal College of Music, winning medals and prizes[2] including the Daily Express piano contest in 1928 and made his concert début in Birmingham in 1929.[3] He performed as an off-screen piano accompanist in several of the 30-line Baird system television broadcasts of 1935[2][4][5] and joined the BBC when they took over. It was at the BBC's early television studios that he met his future second wife, the pianist Phyllis Sellick.[1][6][7][8] In 1934 Smith left the BBC to take up an appointment as professor of pianoforte at the Royal College of Music. Smith and Sellick married in 1937, pursuing solo careers. During the Second World War Cyril Smith performed concerts for ENSA but in 1941 he and his wife began performing together as a piano duo at the Proms,[9] and made many international concert tours for ENSA and the British Council. In 1945 they toured the Far East,[2] where the hazards to contend with included small animals lodged in pianos and out-of-tune instruments.

Smith's work was largely from the Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Schubert, Balakirev, and Albéniz repertoire. Malcolm Arnold, Sir Arthur Bliss, Gordon Jacob and Ralph Vaughan Williams also wrote music for the duo.[10][11][12] Among Cyril Smith's many performances[13] were appearances at The Barn Theatre,[3] Oxted, in the 1930s and at the Proms in 1930, 1937, 1941, 1944, 1946, 1953 and 1969.[3][14]

In 1956 while in the city of Kharkov in Ukraine at the start of a concert tour of the Soviet Union he suffered a thrombosis and stroke that paralysed his left arm.[2][3][10][12][15][16][17] However, with music arranged by themselves, or written or arranged by composer friends, Smith and Sellick were able to continue to perform concerts of three-handed music as a piano duo.[12] Notable among the works composed for them was Malcolm Arnold's Concerto for Two Pianos (3 hands), Op. 104, dedicated to the performers,[18] who premiered it at the Proms in 1969 and recorded it in 1970.[19]


Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick both taught piano at the Royal College of Music[9] - Smith was appointed professor of pianoforte in 1934.[2] Among those who studied piano with him are: Ray Alston,[20] John Barstow,[21] Clifford Benson,[22][23] Philip R Buttall,[24] Maureen Challinor, June Clark,[25] Patrick Flynn,[26] Joan Havill,[27][28] David Helfgott,[29] Peter Hill,[30] Antony Hopkins,[31] Niel Immelman,[32] Rae de Lisle,[33] Barry Morgan,[28] Thalia Myers,[34][35] Siva Oke,[36] Aydin Önaç,[37] Jennifer Pearce,[38] June Pepin,[39] Joan Ryall,[40] Stephen Savage,[41] Kimberly Schmidt,[42] Jo Spanjer,[43] Kathron Sturrock,[44] Sharon Joy Vogan,[45] David Ward,[46] Fanny Waterman,[47] Gillian Weir,[48] Kenneth Weir,[49] Frank Wibaut,[50] and Simon Young.[51] In 1973 Cyril Smith was once again appointed professor of pianoforte until his death the next year.


Cyril Smith's autobiography is entitled Duet for Three Hands (Angus & Robertson, 1958).[1][3][52] One of the chapters was written by his wife Phyllis Sellick.


Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick were both made Officers of the Order of the British Empire in 1971.[7]

Smith was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1960 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.[53]


  • Cyril Smith, Phyllis Sellick and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra (conductor Malcolm Sargent), Dutton, (P)1947/48[54]
  • Phyllis Sellick, Cyril Smith, Orchestras of the Bournemouth Symphony, Philharmonia, City of Birmingham and the Royal Philharmonic, Arnold: English Dances, HMV Classics[10]
  • Cyril Smith, Phyllis Sellick and Solna Brass, including Rhapsody for Piano (3 hands) by Gordon Jacob, Granada[55]
  • Cyril Smith & Phyllis Sellick, Piano Duos: Faure Mendessohn Franck Schubert, Nimbus Records, (P)1974 (Cyril's last recording)[56]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Eide-Altman, Rose. "Biographies and Autobiographies". Women at the Piano.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Baker, Anne Pimlott. Cyril Smith. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Past Performers". Barn Theatre.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Richardson, Diana. "Talk: John Logie Baird". University of Strathclyde.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Norman, Bruce. "Here's Looking at You - The Story of British Television 1908–1939" (PDF). Royal Television Society.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Amis, John (30 May 2007). "Obituaries: Phyllis Sellick". The Guardian Unlimited. Manchester.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Obituaries: Phyllis Sellick". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 May 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Obituaries: Phyllis Sellick". The Independent. 2 July 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Eide-Altman, Rose. "Duopianists". Women at the Piano.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Tan, Adrian. "Malcolm Arnold". The Flying Inkpot.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Schwartz, Steve (1996). "Record Review: Malcolm Arnold". Classical Net.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Brofeldt, Hans. "Piano Music for the Left Hand Alone".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Bermuda Festival Programme". Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society. September 1952.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "History". Chichester Symphony Orchestra. 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "History". Egham & District Music Club.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "About Us". Epsom Symphony Orchestra.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Leeds Classical Music". Discovering Leeds.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Wilton, Rob. "Promenade Concert Prospectuses". Theatricalia.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "CD Review: Malcolm Arnold". ClassicalNet.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Cohn, Neville (2004). "Triumph over adversity". OZarts Review.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "A Buyer's Guide to Historic Piano Recordings Reissued on Compact Discs". University of Maryland.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "The Malcolm Arnold Discography". MusicWeb International.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Sir Malcolm Arnold". Pianos online.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Piano Masterclass by Ray Alston" (PDF). The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Music, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Profile: John Barstow". Royal College of Music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Summer School for Pianists".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Lot Music".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Profile: Clifford Benson". Hyperion Records.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. October 2009 "Clifford Benson" Check |archiveurl= value (help). The Clifford Benson Website, Archived from the original on 25 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Biography: Philip R Buttall". Saxtet Publications.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "The Lone Ar-ranger!". Thornes Music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Reift, Marc. "Philip R Buttall" (PDF). Editions.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Philip R Buttall". Classical Artists Worldwide.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Philip R Buttall - Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Nick Pepin and June Clark". CDBaby.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Joan Ryall and June Clark in Concert". Charlemagne Music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Piano Pieces by June Clark". Charlemagne Music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Patrick Flynn, Conductor". Symphony Silicon Valley.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Profile: Joan Havill". Guildhall School of Music & Drama.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Profile: Joan Havill". Guildhall School of Music & Drama.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Expatriates - Biographies:". The Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "David Helfgott's biography". Geocities. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Profile: Peter Hill". Music Now.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Profile: Peter Hill". allmusic.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Peter Hill - Biography". The University of Sheffield.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Professor Peter Hill - Biography". The University of Sheffield. 3 July 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Biography: Peter Hill".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Annual Peter Gram Swing Lecture and Concert to Feature 'Music of Olivier Messiaen'". Swarthmore.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Haddon, Elizabeth. Making Music in Britain. Ashgate, 2006. p. 90
  32. "Fourth International Piano Festival - Niel Immelman". Oxford Philomusica.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Profile: Niel Immelman". Oxford Philomusica.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Niel Immelman Recitals". Jacques Samuels Piano. 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Biography: Niel Immelman - Piano". Meridian Records.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "The Guildhall School Alumni Newsletter" (PDF). The Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "Thalia Myers - biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Thalia Myers biography". ABSRM Publishing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Newman, Bill (11 March 2006). "Tete-a-Tete". Music and Vision Daily.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. "Chandos People: Aydin Önaç". Chandos Symphony Orchestra.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "Guests: Jennifer Pierce Pianist". Unstructured Light.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. "Profile: June Pepin". Best Books Online.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. Clark, June. "Joan Ryall and June Clark in Concert". Charlemagne music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. "Profile: Stephen Savage - Artist". Move Records.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. "News Release: Acclaimed Pianist Concludes IHM Chapel Concert Season". Immaculate Heart of Mary. 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Amphlett, Paul. "A Poetry Kit Interview". Poetry Kit.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. "Profile: Kathron Sturrock". The Royal College of Music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Ritchie, Anthony. "Piano Preludes". Atoll.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. "David Ward biography". ABRSM Publishing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. "Fanny Waterman biography". Faber Music.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. "Biography: Gillian Weir". Linn Records.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Walton, Kenneth. "Key player in the uprising".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; "Biography: Gillian Weir Biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Kirk-Swindell, Kelley. "She really captivates the audience". The Daily Reflector.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  49. "Kenneth Weir biography".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  50. "Profile: Frank Wibaut". Teatro Ghione.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. "Simon Young, Professor of Piano, Trinity College of Music".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. Aldous, Richard. "Book Review: Tunes of Glory - The Life of Malcolm Sargent". MusicWeb.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  53. "Cyril Smith (1909-1974)". Big Red Book. Retrieved 3 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  54. Yungkans, Jonathan. "Rachmaninov". The Flying Inkpot.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  55. Mutum, Tim. "Brass on record".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  56. "Castle Classics Piano". Castle Classics.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Biography: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

External links