From 2002 until Spring 2022, Gordon Back was the Artistic Director of the Menuhin Competition. For 20 years, he channelled his creative energy into defining it as a unique international event. It now is a major violin festival featuring all jury members as performers and provides an educational forum to all participants and visiting musicians. The competition was hosted in Oslo 2010, Beijing 2012, Austin 2014 and celebrated the Menuhin Centenary in London in 2016. The following competitions were hosted in Geneva 2018 and most recently Richmond, VA 2021. The 2021 event was the first ever entirely virtual Menuhin Competition. Streamed globally from 14 – 23 May 2021 it attracted more than six million viewers on its streaming channel.
Returning to his Welsh roots, Gordon Back has been the Artistic Director of the Gower Festival since 2013. He invites international and local artists to perform in the superb acoustics and atmosphere of the ancient churches in the Gower peninsula. Some venues date back to the 6th century, and the festival is described by the Sunday Times as one of the top 10 small Festivals in the UK. Gordon’s diverse programming ranges from Classical to Jazz and traditional Welsh music. Recent festivals were sell-out successes where every concert is a unique highlight offering music for everyone.
Gordon Back's distinguished career as a pianist has taken him to many continents of the world. His international reputation was established in 1978 when he played with Dong-Suk Kang in Alice Tully Hall, New York, to great critical acclaim. Since then he has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Russia, U.S.A., Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore and of course, Great Britain, performing and recording with artists such as Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein, Maxim Vengerov, Aaron Rosand, Josef Suk, Sarah Chang, Leonidas Kavakos and the Cleveland Quartet.
Born in Wales, he studied piano and viola at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He was awarded the Lady Grace James Scholarship, which enabled him to take up his post-graduate studies in Italy, studying with Guido Agosti and Sergio Lorenzi. On returning to England he was one of the youngest ever appointed professors to join the faculty of the Guildhall School of Music (London) in 1974, where he was made head of the Department of Accompaniment in 1980. He received the honour of being made a Fellow of the Guildhall School in 1984.
Gordon Back was an official accompanist to major international violin competitions including the Queen Elisabeth Competition, the Carl Flesch Competition (London), the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow), the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis (U.S.A.) and the Menuhin Competition (UK).
His recordings include the Bach-Schumann Sonatas and Partitas for violin and piano with Jean-Jacques Kantorow (which received a French Grand Prix du Disque), the Schubert Arpeggione and Rachmaninov Cello Sonatas with cellist Daniel Lee (for Decca) and a series of CDs with clarinetist Emma Johnson (for ASV). In 2011 he recorded the complete works of Ernst with Josef Spacek.
Gordon Back gives regular master classes as guest professor in music colleges such as the Cleveland Institute of Music, Curtis Institute and the Royal Northern College of Music. He has taught in France and at the Valdres Festival, Norway. He is Artistic Advisor of the Hattori Foundation, Artistic Director of the Gower Festival and since 2019 Chairman of the jury of the Vendome Prize for piano.
He still regularly performs and toured Japan in December 2022. In the autumn of 2023 he will give a series of master classes across the US.