'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Robin Hill - 'Guitar Dimensions' New Release!

We are pleased to announce the release of 'Guitar Dimensions' which features pieces for guitar and orchestra and solo guitar, from jazz through flamenco to classical.
Some pieces here are well known favourites, others have never previously been heard.

The album notes, found below, were written by Robin and provide further information about each piece.

Samples of 'Guitar Dimensions' can be heard on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. It is available as digital download and also, via our website, on CD.

Guitar Dimensions

‘Take Five’ was one of the first pieces of music to make a real impact on me. When I first heard it I was probably around 10 years of age. My father had taken me for a guitar lesson and two of the teachers were playing it as a duet. It immediately connected with me and I remember getting the sheet music. In my arrangement, for guitar solo, I make use of percussive effects with the right hand while the left hand keeps the riff going. The tune, of course, was made famous by the Dave Brubeck Quartet and was composed by alto player, Paul Desmond (1924-1977).

The ‘Celtic Concerto’ by myself is a reflection of my love for traditional celtic music.
The piece consists of six movements of which three can be heard here – ‘For Turlough’ inspired by, and dedicated to, the great Irish harpist and composer, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) This starts with the solo guitar stating the main theme sparsely accompanied by pizzicato basses, cellos and percussion. The full orchestra then takes over accompanied by the guitar. The mood is optimistic and the atmosphere vibrant.
‘Return to Islay’ was inspired by a visit to this beautiful Hebridean island and reflects the simplicity, and the beauty, of its unspoilt character.
‘Rakes of Kildare’ is based on a traditional theme with the first statement by solo guitar. This is a lively jig with much merriment and good humour.

‘Canon’, by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) is his most well-known and loved composition. It was first recorded in 1940 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Although originally in D, I prefer the resonance of Eb in my arrangement, using a capo at the first fret.

‘Jota California’ is from another piece for guitar & orchestra in six movements by myself. The Spanish jota is always a lively affair with much hand clapping and invariably accompanied by castanets.

The ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ by Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-1999), was composed in Paris in 1939 and premiered in Barcelona in 1940. The soloist, on that occasion was Regino Sainz de la Maza. The beautiful adagio is the essential core of the concerto and passes through many different moods until it reaches its logical conclusion. In her autobiography, Victoria, Rodrigo’s wife, eventually declared that the adagio was a response to their devastation at the miscarriage of her first pregnancy. I first performed the concerto in Liverpool with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Carl Davis.

‘Fiesta de Xabia’ was composed in Spain on a family holiday. It represents the excitement, bravura and vibrancy of a Spanish fiesta.
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) composed his ‘Pavane’ Op.50 in 1887. It was originally for solo piano.
Fauré modestly described it as, ‘elegant but not otherwise important.’ The piece’s rhythm comes from the slow, processional Spanish court dance of the same name. It is highly melodic and beautifully haunting and evolves through a series of sophisticated harmonies to its inevitable conclusion. The piece enjoyed immediate popularity which it has retained to the present day.

Claude Bolling’s (b. 1930) ‘Hispanic Dance’ is the first movement of his ‘Concerto for Classic Guitar & Jazz Piano Trio’. It is basically a lively, sparkling dialogue between the guitar and piano with the double bass and drums supplying the underlying pulse. I gave the first UK performance of the piece in Liverpool in 1981. There are six more movements in the concerto all of which I have recorded with my quartet, Eklectica.

John Dowland (1563-1626) was the greatest lutenist of his day. A contemporary account of his playing said, ‘his touch upon the lute doth ravish all human sense.’ He was renowned for his introspective temperament and this is surely reflected in his ‘Melancholy Galliard’ . However ‘My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe’ illustrates a completely different side to his character. The piece is ebullient and demonstrates that the composer possessed a wicked sense of humour. My Lady Hunsdon is pilloried for her lack of ‘puffe’ i.e. stamina……she was a keen dancer but rather unfit….in the second section of the piece she is heard to slow down and to become rather breathless…

Stanley Myers (1930-1993) was a British composer who also wrote the theme music for BBC’s ‘Question Time’. ‘Cavatina’ was originally used in the film, ‘The Walking Stick’
but later, and much more famously, it was used on the soundtrack, and as the main theme, for ‘The Deer Hunter’.

The ‘Gavotte en Rondeau’ by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) comes from his Fourth Lute Suite and was one of the first pieces I heard played by the great Andres Segovia (1983-1987). Although originally composed for the solo violin and/or the lute clavichord, it embodies for me the very quintessence of the classical guitar. In this recording I play the piece with a capo at the first fret and on a Manuel Reyes flamenco guitar circa 1963. The sonority of F major and the Reyes seem to work for me. The ‘Prelude from 1st. Cello Suite’, however, is played on my 1980 Miguel Rodriguez. This, for me, is such an optimistic piece and a justly famous work.

Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909) composed ‘Rumores de la Caleta’ for the solo piano.
It is, however, steeped in the flamenco music of Andalusia. I have arranged it with this very much in mind…the introduction featuring an extended improvised section leading into the original piece.

‘La Paloma’ by Sebastian Iradier was composed in 1863 following a visit to Cuba. Its ascent to worldwide popularity was rapid and it was performed by many artists from very
diverse genres. This arrangement is by Francisco Tarrega the composer of much original music for the guitar and also the arranger of many classic pieces by Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and many more….

The ‘Fantasia X’ by Alonso Mudarra (1510 – 1580) is subtitled ‘Fantasia que contrhaza la harpa en la manera de Ludovico’. This is translated as ‘fantasia which imitates the harp in the manner of Ludovico’
Ludovico was a well-known virtuoso harpist of the era. This is an extraordinary piece. It contains, in addition to the obvious and highly effective, campanella, harp-like effects, syncopation, dissonance and a wry sense of humour. Mudarra states on the score: ‘from here to the end there are some wrong notes – but, if you play them well they will sound fine.’
The piece was originally composed for the vihuela, the Spanish equivalent of the lute and an instrument which was widely popular in Spain during the 1500s.

On this recording I use three different guitars. They are: a Miguel Rodriguez ‘churchdoor’ 1976, a Miguel Rodriguez 1980 and a Manuel Reyes flamenco 1963.

Robin Hill

Special thanks to:

Nick McCloud for his invaluable computer expertise.
Chris Hughes of Oscillate Studios for his great work mixing and mastering this recording.
Ray Kennan (of Bingley) for his constant enthusiasm.
Pip and David for their support and enthusiasm.
Pugwash the studio dog for her high fidelity.
My sons, Felix and Oliver, for enduring, and constantly living with, the recording process.
My wife , Anna, for her keen ears, cold nose, opinions and support.


Robin Hill was born in Yorkshire, England. His first instrument, at age seven, was the violin. At 10 he started to play the guitar, which he studied at music college and later participated in master classes with the eminent Venezuelan guitarist, Alirio Diaz.
In the early 1970s Robin met fellow guitarist, Peter Wiltschinsky and, together, in 1973, they formed the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo, a highly successful partnership with a large archive of recordings (they recorded for Teldec Classics, Hyperion (debut album), ASV, RCA, Erato, Telstar, IMP Classics, Carlton Classics, Warner Bros. and many more. The duo have made numerous radio and television broadcasts and have toured extensively worldwide.
In 1997, Robin performed Joaquin Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (under Carl Davis) to an audience of three thousand. The same year Robin also gave the premiere of his own 'Concerto Primavera' with the same orchestra under the conductor, Ian Tracey. He has to date composed four other concertos - three for guitar and one for piano.
Robin gave the UK premiere of Claude Bolling's 'Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano Trio', a work he has also recorded with his quartet, Eklectica.
Robin has collaborated with artists as diverse as Luciano Pavarotti, soprano Lesley Garrett, tenor Russell Watson, American soprano Denise Greaves (at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Philharmonic) to British rock bands Deep Purple and Jethro Tull and he has toured extensively with the American jazz/soul singer, Madeline Bell.
His book 'The Guitar Gymnasium' is used in conservatories throughout the world.
Robin's musical travels constantly take him all over the world.

'As always it was a great pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique. Everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper – Classical Guitar Magazine UK

'Charismatic – a world class performance!' St Louis Dispatch - USA

'Daunting technique' Acoustic Guitar magazine - USA

'Wonderful for precision, touch and virtuosity, the result of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia - Italy

Monday, June 29, 2015

Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium Podcast No 2 - The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo Part 1

After the more technical podcast No.1 on right hand technique which can be found here, Podcast No.2 looks at the history of the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo with some musical examples and also some inside information on the murkier side of the music industry...

Robin's Book, 'The Guitar Gymnasium' can be found here.

During the podcast Robin mentions the duo's first album, which originally started with the Bach Invention No.8, there is a reissue of it here.

And here are the sleeve notes from the initial release:

Colin Cooper - Sleevenotes Hill/Wiltschinsky debut album on Hyperion Records

The brilliance of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya set standards of duo guitar playing that have seldom been equalled. The form is a difficult one. Accuracy and precision are of course prime essentials, but the best duos are welded together by something more: a unity of purpose, a spirit of excitement and even adventure, an ability not only to play as one instrument but also to think as one musician.
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky, on the evidence of this recording, have that rare capacity. Their performances are alive, zestful, invigorating. It will make new friends for their exuberant playing, and new friends too for the guitar duo form, in which so much can be accomplished.
Some of the pieces are familiar; some not so familiar, though they deserve to be. All are hugely enjoyable. Hill and Wiltschinsky demonstrate their very wide range by adapting their style successfully to every new requirement, from the English lute tradtion of John Johnson to the 20th century French composer Pierre Petit. The Bach Invention that opens the recital could scarcely have been better chosen; light, airy, fast, it nourishes as it dazzles - perfection in 44 seconds (but length is never a prerequisite of great music). And has the Queen of Sheba ever made so exhilarating an arrival?
It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to introduce this remarkable record - as much pleasure as I think it is going to give those who listen to it.

Podcast No.2:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium Podcast No 1 - Right Hand Technique

Today we celebrate the first podcast of Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium.
Robin will be making these audio recordings regularly and the subjects will vary widely to reflect his diverse interest and eclectic tastes.

The first one concerns the improvement of right hand technique on the classical guitar.
Robin talks about the 120 right hand exercises by Italian virtuoso guitarist and composer Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) and gives his personal insight and methodology behind his own approach to this classic work.

Here is Podcast No.1:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky

The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo have long been Beatles fans so it seemed natural that at some point they would record their own versions of these incredible songs on this Classic Beatles album.

Some of these pieces have been performed live, especially Eleanor Rigby which the duo frequently played as a much appreciated encore. When introducing it Robin often mentioned the following story:

A journalist once asked George Harrison what he thought of Andrés Segovia and his reply was, 'He's the Daddy of us all."

This got back to the Maestro, who said, "These pop stars might be nice boys but what they are doing is obscene and a disease...I do not like the way the girls go crazy.'

This always caused much mirth amongst the audience.

With these arrangements Hill/Wiltschinsky hope to redress the balance and show that the music of Lennon and McCartney is of such a high quality that it can stand many forms of interpretation.

The whole process was an intense one as they each took half of the 32 songs so that both did an equal amount of arranging. As in the relationship between Lennon and McCartney, the desire to create interesting and unique arrangements to these well known songs fuelled Robin and Peter to become more and more creative.

Sometimes the title alone suggested an arranging approach.
A good example of this is, 'I'll Be Back', which Robin punned as, 'I'll Be Bach', and arranged in a Baroque style.

Another, 'Hard Day's Night', which he thought of as, 'Hard Day's Knight', and arranged in an Elizabethan Lute style.

Who would have thought that, 'She Loves You', would work on two guitars successfully? This one was imagined as a real guitar duo and features many compositional devices such as canon, counterpoint etc.

The hope was always that people would pick up on the many more hidden references and inspiration throughout the album. Even the introductions to many of the pieces present a mystery as to which famous Beatles track will be heard.

You can find, Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky here on iTunes or cdbaby and from many other digital outlets.

As always, many thanks to Jonathan Keenan for the cover photography.


Friday, October 17, 2014

New Sheet Music for Guitar by Robin Hill - Arrangements of Bach & Pachelbel

After Robin's many years as both performer and composer it is not surprising that huge amounts of both hand written and printed scores abound around our home. For anyone associated with a musician it will probably be no surprise to hear that this music can turn up in the most unexpected places. A Fandango in the Freezer for example...

But in our case much of the music is either original compositions or arrangements.
We have a vast archive of guitar duo, solo, orchestral, guitar & flute etc.etc. There are literally hundreds of pieces of music.

So it is with great excitement that I can announce that we are gradually going to release these arrangements as digital sheet music.

The difficult part was deciding where to begin, so, we have opted for a selection of two very well known classics and an original piece by Robin.

'Canon' by Johann Pachelbel. Arranged by Robin Hill

Pachelbel's 'Canon' is such a beautiful piece of music it isn't surprising it is so popular. Although some arrangements for guitar of this classic are available Robin felt he would like to create something new which would be idiomatic for the guitar.

It is 7 pages long and contains some new, original material and has been well received in concert.
Our edition includes both standard notation, with fingering, and also tablature.
You can find it here.

'Prelude No.1' from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' by Johann Sebastian Bach. Arranged by Robin Hill

Originally in C major Robin has transposed and arranged this piece into the more guitar friendly key of E major. 'Prelude No.1', from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' is 5 pages long and includes fingering and tablature. You can find it here.

'Return to Islay' By Robin Hill

'Return to Islay' is an original composition inspired by a visit to the beautiful Hebridean Island. The piece reflects the island's simple, natural beauty and has proved a very popular, and often requested, concert item.
You can hear Robin playing Return to Islay here and the sheet music can be found here.

'The Guitar Gymnasium' by Robin Hill

Or to give it its full title, 'The Guitar Gymnasium, A Mental and Physical Workout, Designed to Develop Flawless Technique.'
I have written about this book before, 'Performance and Practice,' and 'Musical Practice Tips.'

It is available instantly here, or from the warehouse here.

We will be adding to this catalogue of available pieces over time so please check back regularly.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

'Life of a Musician - Robin Hill' is 8 Years Old!

Another year has passed and it seems incredible that Life of a Musician is now 8 years old!
But whilst this blog might be 8, Robin has spent practically all his life immersed in music.
Starting out in bands from the age of 12 and continuing right through to the present day.
Many events have been highlighted throughout this blog so feel free to browse through the archives.

As always it has been a very busy year and Robin continues to travel extensively, and perform regularly, around the world.
In fact he isn't currently at home to celebrate this momentous occasion as he is in Denmark!

When not away performing there is still lots to be done. Learning new repertoire and composing new pieces are always high on the list and thoughts frequently turn to recording.
In the next few weeks that is exactly what will be happening.
An exciting new project is underway and will be discussed in more detail in due course.
But for now, the musicians have been booked, the music is prepared and all we need is Robin!
But actually, by the end of August the recording will hopefully be done and the mixing and mastering process will have started.
Then of course the behind the scenes aspects of any new release will start falling into place.

But the last year also saw us re-release, 'Danza - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky'.
This album was originally released by ASV in 1995 and was an important landmark for the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo. Consequently there was no hesitation from us when it became available to release once again.
You can read more about 'Danza' here, including an original review and the sleeve notes.

During the last year we also had a call from Babak Rahnama, a singer, DJ and Producer.
He was so taken by a piece Robin had written some years earlier that he wanted to collaborate.
So collaborate they did and 'Tomorrowland' was the result!
They continue to work on many more tracks and Robin will soon be travelling to London to make a video.

As I said at the beginning, Robin is away at the moment and last night was concert night.
It was also a very unusual night for Robin as our youngest son travelled with him for the first time.
After a gruelling journey which was full of delays and required the sound check to be hastily rescheduled, the concert itself went ahead as planned.
As he prepared to play, 'Fantastic Mr Felix', from, 'Standing On Air' Robin was able to explain that the dedicatee was, for the first time ever, in the audience.
Naturally this went down very well and youngest son was required to stand and take a bow.
A very proud moment for both father and for son and one that made all the hassle of the previous day disperse in a second.

It is in fact moments like that when all the hours, months and years of solitary practice all seem worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

'Jazz Name Dropper' a poem by Robin Hill

Jazz has always featured strongly in our lives and its influence can be heard in much of Robin's music.
He also loves poetry and often writes a few verses when the mood takes him.
I was therefore not surprised when, 'Jazz Name Dropper', was passed on to me.
Apparently, for some unknown reason, at the time of writing the whole passage was conceived in a gentle Welsh lilt...

Jazz Name Dropper

I had a beer with Chick Corea
Played a shaker for Chet Baker
Had several binges with Charlie Mingus
Strolled in the park with Stanley Clarke
Bought pizzas and ate ‘em with old Art Tatum
Met the wife, Mavis, through Miles Davis
Sailed in a vessel with Barney Kessel
Received a personal cheque from Dave Brubeck
Was dubbed ‘glorious’ by Jaco Pastorius
Walked across Turin with Flora Purim
Played jazz-rock with Herb Hancock
Lived down the lane from John Coltrane
Appeared on telly with Stephane Grappelli
But I never met Django Reinhardt.....(I did however meet his son, Babik).

Robin Hill - 2013