Professor Peter Hill (Emeritus Professor of Music)


Department of Music
The University of Sheffield
Jessop Building
34 Leavygreave Road
S3 7RD

Tel: +44 (0) 114 222 0476
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 0469

email :


Peter Hill is a scholar and pianist working mainly in the contemporary and twentieth-century repertoires. He studied at Oxford and at the RCM, where his teachers included Cyril Smith and Nadia Boulanger. He was awarded first prize at Darmstadt (1974) for his performances of Cage and Stockhausen, and his complete recording of Messiaen´s solo piano works, made with the composer´s help and encouragement, has been described as `one of the most important recording projects of recent years´ (New York Times). Other recordings include CDs of Beethoven (the Diabelli Variations), Stravinsky, and the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg and Webern). Peter´s books include The Messiaen Companion (Faber and Faber) and Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (Cambridge University Press). In 2001 he and his colleague Nigel Simeone were granted permission to carry out research in the private Messiaen archive. Their biography Messiaen (Yale University Press) was published in 2005 and is currently being translated for publication in France (Fayard) and Germany (Schott). A further joint-authored book (Olivier Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques, published in 2007) includes a detailed investigation of the composer´s musical sketches. Peter joined the staff at Sheffield in 1976. He is co-director with Peter Cropper of the MA in Music Performance, and teaches undergraduate courses on Messiaen, Mozart, Baroque counterpoint, and Performance.

Research Interests

  • Messiaen: Peter studied with Messiaen while making his complete recording of Messiaen’s piano works, subsequently editing The Messiaen Companion (Faber and Faber, 1995), the first publication to survey Messiaen’s output in its entirety. He and his colleague Nigel Simeone were the first scholars permitted access to the private Messiaen archive in Paris. Their research on Messiaen has received generous funding from the AHRC. Future publications in the project will include A Messiaen Reader (which will publish writings and speeches by the composer with commentaries by the authors), a study of the life and work of Messiaen’s first wife, the composer and violinist Claire Delbos, and a study of Messiaen’s piano cycle the Catalogue d’oiseaux.
  • Performance: Current interests include the performance on the piano of the keyboard works of Bach, and Beethoven’s music for piano duet, for both of which recordings are in preparation. In 2008 Messiaen’s centenary will be celebrated with recitals throughout the world including the Messiaen Festival in the French Alps. Peter will also be lecturing and directing educational projects at a number of British and American music departments and conservatoires.

Current Projects

  • A Messiaen Reader: an annotated anthology of writings by the composer and others about Messiaen’s works.
  • A study of Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux
  • A recording of Beethoven’s works for piano duet.
  • A recording of Bach’s French Suites.

Selected Grants

  • AHRB Research Grant with Nigel Simeone for Messiaen research (c. £40,000), 2002–4
  • AHRC Research Grant with Nigel Simeone for further Messiaen research (c. £41,000), 2006–9

Selected Publications

Articles and books

Xenakis and the performer', Tempo 112 (March 1975), pp. 17–22

'The Chinese song-cycles of Brian Dennis', Tempo 137 (June 1981), pp. 23–9

'Riding the thermals: the piano music of Howard Skempton', Tempo 148 (March 1984),
pp. 8–11

'Authenticity' in contemporary music', Tempo 159 (Dec. 1986), pp. 2–8

The Messiaen Companion (Faber & Faber, 1995; Portland OR, Amadeus Press, 1996), 581 pp.

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 170 pp.

`Score into sound´, in Musical Performance: A Guide to Study and Practice, ed. John Rink, (Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 129–143

Messiaen [co-author: Nigel Simeone] (Yale University Press, 2005), 435 pp.

`Messiaen recorded: the Quatre études de rythme´, in Messiaen: Music, Art, Literature, ed. Christopher Dingle and Nigel Simeone (Ashgate, 2007), pp. 79–90

Olivier Messiaen: Oiseaux exotiques [co-author: Nigel Simeone] (Ashgate, 2007), 140 pp.


Nigel Osborne: Remembering Esenin, with Florian Kitt, cello (Unicorn-Kanchana, re-issued by NMC)

Messiaen: complete solo piano works (Unicorn-Kanchana, reissued by Regis)

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations (Unicorn-Kanchana)

Schubert: Lieder, with Lynda Russell, soprano (Naxos)

Stravinsky: Music for 4 hands (with Benjamin Frith): Sonata for two pianos, Concerto for two pianos, The Rite of Spring (Naxos)

Brian Dennis: songs and piano works, with Susan Bullock, soprano (Musicnow)

The complete piano music of Berg, Schoenberg and Webern (Naxos)

Chamber music by Fabrice Fitch and Paul Archbold (Métier)

Stravinsky: piano music – Sonata; Les Cinq Doigts; Piano Rag Music; Tango; Chorale; Serenade; Three Movements from Petrushka (Naxos)

View a full list of Peter Hill's publications