Jonathan Freeman-Attwood is a performer, writer, recording producer and Principal at the Royal Academy of Music. He studied at the University of Toronto and subsequently engaged in research at Christ Church, Oxford. Soon after, he became Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the Academy, where he led a pioneering new degree course in performance studies under the aegis of King’s College London. He then became Vice-Principal & Director of Studies, a post which he held until 2008. In 1997, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and in 2001 received a personal chair in his conferment as a Professor of the University of London.
As a trumpet player, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood has performed and recorded both as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles, most notably as an exponent of the piccolo trumpet. He has attracted plaudits from the press for his solo recordings, which include discs of Baroque sonatas, suites and concertos (by Albinoni and his contemporaries) and ‘Bach Connections’ – a trumpet and organ programme which ‘threads’ its way from Bach through to the late 20th century. With John Wallace, in 2004, he released a disc of works by Rheinberger, Strauss and Elgar entitled ‘The Trumpets that Time Forgot’ (Linn Records), heralding a series of discs exploring ways in which the trumpet can, retrospectively, be ‘written into’ established traditions of mainstream solo and chamber music. ‘La Trompette Retrouvée’, with pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar, was released in early 2007 and presents works in the French tradition – from Rameau to Fauré – in arrangements for trumpet and piano. This includes Freeman-Attwood’s own edition of Faure’s Violin Sonata no 2. in E minor, Op 108. A disc of 17th-century fantasies, variations and sonatas, ‘Trumpet Masque’ was released in 2008.
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood’s career also extends to recording producer for many independent labels. Several of his productions have won major awards, including four Gramophone Awards for Ockeghem’s Requiem with the Clerk’s Group (ASV), Purcell’s Fantazias (Simax) and Gibbons’ 6-part Fantasias (AVIE) with Phantasm as well as Vivaldi’s ‘La Stravaganza’ Concertos with Rachel Podger and L’Arte di Suonatore (Channel Classics). He has recorded all Bach’s unaccompanied violin music with Podger and the accompanied sonatas with Trevor Pinnock (Channel Classics), the large-scale works of Byrd, Lawes and Jenkins with Phantasm, chamber recordings with Podger, Pinnock and Jonathan Manson, Tallis and Byrd with The Cardinall’s Music (Hyperion) and miscellaneous discs for Naxos, Chandos and BIS.
He continues to be active as a critic, lecturer and contributor to many journals as well as for The New Grove (2nd edition) and broadcasts regularly for BBC Radio 3. He is an established authority on Bach interpretation, particularly as it challenges and refocuses historical perspectives on ‘performance practices’ and – in more pedagogical contexts – how recordings of the past can question the values of current priorities and tastes.
In July 2008, Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood became the 14th Principal of the Academy since it was founded in 1822.