Autumn Open Day and Master class for the Accordion Department at the Royal Academy of Music

Royal Academy of Music

Royal Academy of Music Events, October 2017


05 October, Accordion dept. Open-Day.

Lunchtime concert at 13.05 followed by a talk by Owen Murray on the work on the accordion department.

At 15.30 to 17.00, there will be an opportunity for young accordionists to play and receive advice on further development.  Anyone wishing to play should contact the accordion dept. administrator, Karin Ingram ( giving details of age, some examples of pieces in your repertoire, and the title of a composition to play in the session.

Ben de Souza

Inigo Mikeleiz-Berrade







13 October, RAM students Master class taken by Peter Katina, 10.00 to 13.00

Peter Katina


Mental Training for Musicians – Inger Murray Workshop Sunday 21st May 2017

Inger Murray RAM workshop

Mental Training for Musicians – Sunday 21st May 2017 10.00- 17.00

Royal academy of Music Academic Teaching Centre, 32 Aybrook Street. London W1U 4AW

Inger Murray
Inger Murray










Many musicians professional and amateur suffer from stage fright.  Some are able to play but perhaps not quite as well as they would when they are alone rehearsing in their room. Psychologist Inger Murray has developed this unique concept.  It can transform your career and any performance by teaching you how to control your nerves in performance situations. Now she is coming to London to hold a workshop that is open to all. She has achieved some amazing results.  The training becomes part of your daily practice routine.

Cost £120 (£108 for students)

Please register before 21st April as places are limited. Contact murray@mentaltrainingformusicians

ZZ Music has a book available to accompany Inger Murray’s teaching. Click here.


Toralf Tollefsen – World Artist – Book reviewed by Michael Lieber

‘Toralf Tollefsen World Artist’ is a fascinating and very readable book about the life, career and achievements of Toralf Tollefsen (1914-94), a much loved and internationally renowned accordionist from Norway, a man who truly became a legend in his lifetime. First published (in Norwegian) in 1994 to celebrate Tollefsen’s 80th birthday, this book is not actually a biography as such, but an anthology edited by Jon Faukstad containing a lengthy in-depth biographical interview with the great man by Faukstad, four informative articles about Tollefsen and his very significant contribution to the accordion (written by Mogens Ellegaard, Ola Kai Ledang, Jon Faukstad, and Birger Ostby), plus a complete and detailed discography, compiled by Tom Valle. Toralf Tollefsen has long been a legendary figure in the accordion world, especially in Britain where he lived between 1936/39 and 1946/61. There have been other accordionists equally skilled, but few could match Tollefsen’s charisma, stage presence or reputation, or the deep impression he made on a generation of accordionists in this country whose progress was often measured by how well they could play compositions and arrangements bearing Tollefsen’s name. This newly published English-language version tells a great deal about Tollefsen’s lifelong dedication to the accordion, and the reader will learn much about his ambitions, thoughts on repertoire, performance, his instruments, playing experiences in Britain and the USA, and his philosophy about life. The life of Tollefsen is, in a sense, the story of the modern accordion in Britain and Europe as this was the man whose long-held and eventually realised dream it was to pioneer the accordion’s transition from variety theatres to the classical concert stage, introducing the free bass instrument in the process. In the interview section Tollefsen discusses how he went from variety to classical music in the post-war years, and the problems he had to overcome with this transition. Originally published in Norwegian, ‘Toralf Tollefsen World Artist’ has been painstakingly translated and updated by Owen Murray, with assistance from Olga Jorgensen for the translation of the article by Professor Ola Kai Ledang. Special mention should be made of the initiative of Roland Williams, whose enthusiasm brought this project to fruition.

Toralf Tollefsen (1914-1994): World Artist

Edited by Jon Faukstad, translated by Owen Murray

Toralf Tollefsen was to Europe in the 20th century what Charles Magnante was to the United States, consummate musicians who did with the accordion what no one else had.  This book is a narrative of Tollefsen’s life in his own words, transcribed from interview responses to his colleague and editor, Jon Faukstad.

Tollefsen describes learning music in his family from his father, siblings, and uncles.  He began lessons and playing in a group in his early teens in Oslo, where he played in a restaurant, at local events, and began recording.  He describes moving to London, where he quickly became a fixture and a feature artist in variety shows performed live, on the radio, and on recordings.  It was in a variety show where he met the woman who became his wife.  He and his wife returned to Norway just before it was occupied by the Germans.  Forced to remain in Norway, he performed only occasionally, but used his time to transcribe and learn classical pieces and to work as a courier for the Norwegian resistance.  Those classical pieces were the mainstays of his post-war career.

When he returned to Europe in 1947, the variety show was a thing of the past.  Tollefsen made his living doing concerts in Europe, the United States, Iceland, and Africa.  He performed as a solo artist and with symphony orchestras.  It was during this period that he was recognized as the preeminent accordionist of Europe.  When Tollefsen and his wife returned to Norway in 1961, it was for good.  He accepted a teaching position in 1963, and his many students include some of the most famous accordionists in Europe.  He concludes by talking about and comparing accordions he has played.  The book concludes with brief essays by Mogens Ellegaard and Ola Kai Ledang on Tollefsens’s influence on students of the accordion, on changing musical contexts of accordion music, a complete discography by Tom Valle, and a concluding essay on the accordion as a concert instrument by Jon Faukstad.

Several features of this book are particularly striking. Because Tollefsen was an observant, thoughtful man, his career narrative is also a history of popular music and its venues in the early and mid-20th century as seen through the eyes of a major participant.  A recurrent theme in this history is adaptability.  Before he left Norway for England, Tollefsen was so busy learning new tunes that he had no time to develop skills through scales, arpeggios, and exercises.  He integrated technical practice with learning tunes and developed his own techniques.  He made his living and his reputation in the 1930s playing in variety shows, which featured brief appearances requiring him to set his performance off from those that preceded and followed his own.  Pieces had to be short, familiar to audiences, and highly ornamented—flashy, in a word.  Work was scarce during the war, and keeping a low profile meant playing in Sweden and Denmark occasionally, playing for food occasionally, and always avoiding German intelligence.  Post war Europe required yet another adaptation.  The concert stage required a different repertoire and performance format, two hours plus encores being most common.  Flashy technique was replaced by flawless, emotionally engaging renditions of classical genre pieces.  The concert stage involved the performer as entrepreneur, and Tollefsen’s success depended on his ability to take calculated financial risks.  Teaching involved new adaptations: figuring out how he did what he did in order to show it to students and finding ways to help students play “new music” that he did not particularly like.  Finally, Tollefsen’s discovery and involvement in Christian Science is fascinating and moving.

Interviewing is not easy, and using the interview as a presentation format is even more difficult.  Not only does Faukstad pull it off, but he does it in as professional a manner as any journalist or social scientist.  His questions are meaty, at times pointed; he asks them and then gets out of the way so Tollefsen can talk.  Also striking is Owen Murray’s translation from the Norwegian.  First, he uses translation to give us access to this narrative, and next, he designs his translation to capture the vibrancy of this man, the flow of the narrative, and the immediacy of it.  We feel like eavesdroppers rather than readers.

This is a book equally suitable to fans of accordion music, to those interested in the history of accordion music and accordionists of the 20th century, and to those more generally curious about changing eras of taste in the popular music of Europe and the U. S. during the 20th century.

Kudos to Faukstad, Murray, and ZZ Music for making this work available.  It is a gift.


Michael Lieber

University of Illinois, Chicago


ZZ Music wishes to thank Michael Lieber for his much appreciated review.


Friedrich Lips- Lecture and Masterclass- Royal Academy of Music – 23rd & 24th February 2017 and Accordion Dept. Concert

RAM hand on acccordion close-up

Royal Academy of Music Accordion Events for February 2017

After the incredible success of the Art of Tango event with Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi earlier this month the Royal Academy of Music Accordion Department focuses on another important part of the accordion repertoire: the Russian school.  Friedrich Lips arguably the foremost authority on this repertoire will be in residence for this wonderful free event to which all accordionists, accordion teachers and students will find extremely interesting and enlightening.

Russian Chamber Music  Concert – De Profundis (Free)

Thursday, 23.02.2017 13:05, David Josefowitz Recital Hall

Katariina Ahjoniemi, Junchi Deng, Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade, Iosif Purits, Benjamin de Souza and Ilona Suomalainen accordion
Henry Hargreaves cello
William White clarinet

Zolotaryov Sonata no.3 (excerpts)
Sofia Gubaidulina De Profundis
Efrem Podgaits Ave Maria; Rendezvous with Haydn
Zolotaryov Rondo capriccioso

This concert will be followed by a lecture on Russian bayan repertoire by Visiting Professor of Accordion Friedrich Lips

Free, no tickets required 

Russian Bayan Lecture (Free)

Thursday, 23.02.2017 14:30, David Josefowitz Recital Hall

Friedrich Lips, professor at the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music and Visiting Professor of Accordion at the Academy, gives a lecture on Russian bayan repertoire.

Free, no tickets required

Prof. Friedrich Lips
Prof. Friedrich Lips

Accordion Masterclass (Free)

Friday, 24.02.2017 14:00, Henry Wood Room


Accordion Masterclass with Friedrich Lips, renowned Russian accordionist, Visiting Professor of Accordion at the Academy and professor at the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow.

Free, no tickets required

Royal Academy of Music – Accordion Department Open Day – 1st November 2016

Accordion close up

Accordion Open Day – FREE

Tuesday, 01.11.2016 14:30, York Gate, Marylebone Road, London

Head of Accordion Owen Murray gives a talk on the Accordion Department, career possibilities and repertoire development to prospective students. Young accordionists will also have the opportunity to play and receive advice on how to further their development. Anyone wishing to play should contact the Accordion Administrator, Teachers are also welcome, and everyone attending is invited to start the Open Day with the Accordion Recital at 1.05pm.

Free, no tickets required. For further information please email

Accordion Recital FREE

Tuesday, 01.11.2016 13:05, David Josefowitz Recital Hall

A programme of original works and transcriptions for classical accordion and strings. This event acts as a prelude to the Accordion Department’s Open Day.

Inigo Mikeleiz-Berrade accordion
Junchi Deng accordion
Ilona Suomalainen accordion
Katariina Ahjoniemi accordion

Ben de Souza accordion

Eleanor Broomfield Soprano
Michail Iskas viola
To be announced violin
To be announced cello
To be announced clarinet

Graciane Finzi Impression Tango
Timothy Bowers Two Paganini Fantasies
Schnittke Suite In Old Style
Sally Beamish Takes Two

Astor Piazzolla Oblivion

Johann Sebastien Bach – Marcello Concerto BWV974

Free, no tickets required


Get rid of stage fright and performance anxiety

Finally available in English Language – Inger Murray’s Mental Training for Musicians – A cure for stage fright

ZZ Music are incredibly pleased to be able to offer the long-awaited translation of Inger Murray’s book GET RID OF YOUR STAGE FRIGHT AND PERFORMANCE ANXIETY from its original Danish, that will be invaluable for musicians and other people in the performing arts as well as those who suffer from nervousness and other exposed situations.  Psychologist Inger Murray has worked  with many professional musicians with her Mental Training for Musician workshops.  She regularly holds them at the Royal Academy of Music in London as well as the Royal Danish Conservatoire in her native Denmark.

Many performers find they can play perfectly well when they practise but then in performance they lose focus, or show outward signs of nervousness which prevent them from giving a performance they are worthy of.  This book will help conquer this all to common problem with professionals, students and amateurs alike. It will help one to understand why it happens and how to counteract it. It is the next best thing to having a one to one or group session with this great lady herself.

This translation is by her husband, Owen Murray who is the classical accordion professor at the Royal Academy of Music. His students are notoriously strong in performance thanks to his inclusion of his wife’s experience and workshops as part of his teaching.

Whilst this book is great for any musicians as accordionists we know that the accordion is a notoriously difficult instrument to play and there are so many things that can go wrong in performance due to its complex structure, particularly in its Classical Free Bass incarnation. This can add stress to an already stressful performance situation.  This book gives the accordionist the tools to focus and relax in performance.



Royal Academy of Music Accordion Masterclass 21st June 2016 – Bjarke Mogensen

Bjarke Mogensen

The last of this season’s interesting and informative accordion masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music before the summer recess.  This month sees the visit of Bjarke Mogensen who teaches accordion at the Royal Danish Conservatoire, where Royal Academy of Music accordion professor studined himself under Mogens Ellegard.

This, as ever, is the perfect opportunity for teachers of accordion to go along and see visiting professors from conservatoires from all over the world work with the accordion students at the Royal Academy of Music.  It is always fascinating to see how different teachers present a variety of ideas to the students and bring out different characteristics in their playing.

Tuesday, 21.06.2016 10:00, York Gate 150

10.00am–1.00pm. (then Lunch) resuming at 2.00–5.00pm

With Bjarke Mogensen, from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen

Free, no tickets required

Two Final Accordion Recitals at the Royal Academy of Music and Patron’s Award Winners’ Recital

Iosif Purits

Don’t miss the final recitals of two amazing young accordionists at the Royal Academy of Music.  Here are the dates:

On June 6th 2016, Iosif Purits  will play at the Wigmore Hall with , Cecilia Bignall (Cello), Amy Yule (Flute) and Seungwong Lee (Piano) for the Royal Academy of Music Patrons Award Winners’ Recital 2016

JS Bach, Sibelius, Hurel and more

Booking information

£5 tickets are available for staff and students of the Royal Academy of Music. Please call the Wigmore Hall Box Office on 020 7935 2141 to book.

Duration: This concert will be approximately 2 hours in duration, including an interval

£15 Ticket bookings are subject to a £2.00 booking fee. This fee covers the whole booking and is not per ticket.

On June 9th 2016,Bartek Glowacki will play his final recital at the David Josefowitz Hall at the Royal Academy of Music at 17.45, followed by Iosif Purits  playing his final recital at 18.45.

ZZ Music wishes them well in the final recitals and concerts in their last year at the Royal Academy of Music.  They have been incredible students under the wonderful guidance of Owen Murray and it has been wonderful to watch them grow into very fine musicians whilst they have been studying in London.

Bartosz Glowacki-1200

Royal Academy of Music Events for May – Accordion Showcase and Masterclass

Accordion close up

Accordion Showcase

Iosif Purits playing with percussionist in Lindberg's Metalwork










Thursday, 19th May 2016 19:30, David Josefowitz Recital Hall

Always great to keep up with how well the accordion students at the Royal Academy of Music are doing and watching them develop in to fine young artists. It is now 30 years this coming September that the accordion was introduced there.The Academy was the first British conservatoire to introduce teaching for classical accordion as a principal study. Owen Murray has been Head of Accordion since the department was founded in 1986. Going along to support these events enable the students to play for a good size audience and I have seen concerts becoming more and more well-attended over the years which shows that there’s plenty of interest in the accordion out there.

Accordion students will play solo and chamber music works by JS Bach, Scarlatti, Trojan and Berio.


Tickets £7.50 (concessions £5.50) from the Academy’s Box Office: online now, telephone 020 7873 7300(weekdays 10am–4pm)

Accordion Masterclass

24th May 2016 10.00 – 17.00. Lunch 12.00 -1.00 pm. Professor Janne Rättyä. Head of accordion, Graz conservatoire, Austria

Free Admission

Owen Murray with Matti Rantenen with rising stars and ex-RAM students Milos Milivojevic and Ksenija Sidorova at last month's master class.
Owen Murray with Matti Rantenen with rising stars and ex-RAM students Milos Milivojevic and Ksenija Sidorova at last month’s master class.



UKAAT Workshop February 7th 2016 – A great success

UKAAT 1st Workshop morning session audience

Accordion teachers, students, professionals, composers and UKAAT supporters packed into the Henry Wood Room for UKAAT’s first workshop on February 7th 2016 at the Royal Academy of Music. The day kicked off with a presentation by Romano Viazzani (UKAAT President) outlining what UKAAT’s aims are and what they have been doing since their initial meeting three years ago along with their hopes for the future.











This was followed by a talk and workshop given by Prof. Owen Murray and Romano Viazzani on teaching basic skills to students. Ideas on all manner of basic skill teaching from posture and confidence in performance to finer points such as articulation and bellow skills were covered with participation from the workshop-goers.  A video clip was also shown to demonstrate the  freedom that comes with good posture. Some exercises were put forward to help improve certain aspects of playing as well as some ideas for chord combinations on standard “Stradella” bass. After a mid morning break the workshop continued explaining how free bass works and its ever increasing importance in the world of Music.  Several systems were explained with Prof. Owen Murray drawing comparisons between the C Griff System Free bass system and the mirror image of the C System Right-hand button-board.  Then Vice President Ian Watson spoke on the B griff System and it’s relationship to the right-hand B-griff button-board. Various diagrams and technical exercise fingerings were made exclusively available to attendees for download.

Basic Skills Workshop










The end of the morning session was rounded off with a short concert by the tremendous students of the Royal Academy of Music’s accordion department. Ben de Sousa and Soprano Elly Broomfield kicked off with an impactful Haydn’s Benedictus from “Little Organ Mass” and Music for a while by Henry Purcell.  Then Inigo Mikeleiz-Berrade played a beautiful and authentically Spanish, Albeniz’s Cordoba followed by Franck Angelis’s Study on Chuiquilin de Bachin. More chamber music followed next with Iosif Purits supporting Cecilia Bignall on cello for J.S Bach’s Sonata for viola de gamba and harpsichord and Manuel de Falla’s Suite Populaire Espagnole. As if almost to underline the topic of dynamic-shaping and articulation covered in the earlier workshop, this performance was an object lesson in how the accordion’s left-hand can ably support a cello to the point of almost believing there was another cello playing with this duo, so well crafted was Purits’s control of the lines played on his free bass. A very mauture performance of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in A major and Zolotaryov’s Sonata No.3 followed and was so appreciated by the cheering audience that brought Bartosz Glowacki back on for a curtain call.  Finally, a blistering performance of Rodion Schedrin’s short piece Toccata by Iosif Purits.

After a pause for lunch, Roland Williams gave a brief talk on a recent book he and Owen Murray translated and compiled about the life of Toralf Tollefsen (available form this site) and some wonderful archive recording of Tollefsen was heard music to the audience’s delight.



Karen Street

Karen Street

Karen Street -First participants play









Once the initial shyness wore off the accordions were donned by the workshop participants for the very enjoyable and informative workshop given by Karen Street on her rather unique way of playing jazz using almost exclusive free bass. Attendees found the similarity between the way Ms Street plays and the jazz voicings pianists use in their left-hand, particularly stimulating.  Then Simone Zanchini and Karen Street combined to get everyone improvising.  The RAM students who had played earlier also joined in and gave jazz a try too which was very pleasing to see.  Karen Street then gave us a wonderful performance of her solo playing so the audience could fully experience what her sound is really like which was much appreciated by the audience and Mr Zanchini alike.



Karen Street - More and more

Karen Street - More and more and... Simone Zanchini










Finally, Simone Zanchini gave a talk on his approach to improvising, what his influences were and some of the jazz accordion greats he had the fortune to play and record with.  He also gave us an insight into his idea of sound and the acoustic experiments and innovation he has incorporated into his accordion.  He talked of the importance of confidence in delivery and sound projection when improvising and the inevitable practise that goes into learning the “coding” of the different styles and genres of music he calls upon during his improvisations some of which he owes to his classical training at Pesaro conservatoire under Sergio Scappini.  He rounded off with a jaw-dropping 30-minute improvisation incorporating many of the jazz styles he had spoken about during his talk.


Karen Street and Simone Zanchini

Simone Zanchini

Simone Zanchini








Happily, all the feedback about the event was very positive indeed and it was felt that generally there is a need for this type of workshop and that they should happen more often.

Simone Zanchini

Simone Zanchini