Julian Marczak





Julian was born in London and from an early age showed that he was highly musical. He recalls how the music teacher at his school telephoned and wrote to his mother on several occasions advising her that her son had musical talent and should learn to play an instrument. Julian’s decision was to learn to play the piano but the school responded saying that the piano teacher had more pupils that she could cope with but the flute teacher had some spaces and there was a spare flute available at the school. The outcome was that Julian started learning the flute, showed natural flair for the instrument and before long was sent to the Royal Academy of Music to study with the late Gareth Morris. Later professors with whom Julian studied were also leading professional players and teachers of the instrument, including John Francis, Clare Southworth and Linda Howarth and whilst Julian went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama he did not study composition.

Originally self-taught in piano and then studying the piano as a second instrument, his skill as a pianist amazed those who came to teach him, not believing that he had been able to be self-taught to such a high level. The composer, Richard Drakeford, upon hearing Julian play, failed to believe that he had never studied the piano in the same way he had the flute. Playing a Schubert Impromptu at the Guildhall, the professors also did not believe that they were listening to someone who had but a few lessons.

Composition never happened for Julian until much later when one day he heard an inspirational and highly emotional interview on the radio concerning a lady who had been born deaf but at the age of forty had heard for the first time having had cochlear implants fitted. She was intrigued by what music was and a friend was putting a list together of music she suggested she listen to. Within a few minutes a musical theme came to Julian whereupon he went to the piano and over the next week or so developed it into a full composition which he recorded and sent to the lady concerned. Her reaction is something Julian will never forget and a few weeks later he was thrilled when the lady was interviewed on the BBC News and his composition, When Silence Ends was played. This was the beginning of Julian’s desire to compose and since he has produced a series of compositions for piano, some of which have then been arranged for orchestra. A number have been performed by the Bernardi Music Group before public audiences, the most recent being three works for piano and orchestra, Song for Shuna; Before, Now and Beyond and Shades Beyond which make up a suite called Suite Beyond. Julian is indebted to the violinist, Andrew Bernardi and the Bernardi Music Group for their support in performing and promoting Julian’s work.

Other compositions have included ‘The Heart Lives On’, composed in memory of a friend, ‘A Time Before’, for Julian’s late mother, ‘Waltz to the Stars’, written for Julian’s daughter, ‘Euan’s Feast’, composed to mark the Bar Mitzvah of a friend’s son, ‘Peace and Solace’ (for two cellos), composed as a gift to a friend who was unwell, and ‘Celebration’ to mark the birth of a baby girl. Julian’s composition for piano solo, ‘Parisian Joy’, later scored for full orchestra by the composer, Paul Lewis, won the UK dance entry for the International Composers Festival. Julian has recently seen published his piece for flute and piano, ‘A Mood of Change’ dedicated to the memory of the late flautist, William Bennett.

Not having studied composition in a formal sense, Julian has turned to the scores of great classical composers for learning and guidance, but he would like to think that a lack of formal training has led to greater spontaneity and tonal originality in his compositions than might otherwise have been the case. He also deeply values his working relationship with the composer and arranger, Michael Doherty from which Julian has learned a great deal concerning form and structure.

Melody lies at the very heart of the music Julian wishes to produce which is why he is greatly impressed by the wonderful, innovative work that Anna Heller is doing to promote new compositions for piano that fall within this category. Julian says he never imagined that someone of Anna’s musical stature would ever wish to perform one of his compositions so it is a real thrill for him that Anna is performing his piece, Shades Beyond.

Unlike the majority of Julian’s compositions which have been inspired by a person, family pet or a place, Shades Beyond is more abstract. Influenced Julian’s love of the works of classical composers such as Mozart and Chopin, the work is more concept-based. It reflects the composer’s thoughts about entering into unknown situations and gaining an initial impression, then to find that there are shades beyond what one experienced at first glance.

Julian is a Licentiate of both the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity College London. In 2021 he was awarded a Fellowship of The Royal Society of Arts for his compositions and charity work.



What does music mean to you personally?

I am limited by the words that are available for me to describe what music means to me. Quite simply, I cannot imagine living without it. It is the wonderful means by which you can express yourself, it is the medicine when emotions need healing and the channel through which we can experience great happiness and fulfillment.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I agree that music can be about fantasy as it can expand our imagination to places beyond reality. But music inspires us in different ways as well and can cause a composer to create and reflect in sound images of people, animals and places , all of which are very much reality.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

The fact is I am not a professional musician(!) but I would like to think I have always tried to reach professional standards in my composing and playing. My circumstances were such that being a professional musician would have been challenging for me. I have had two careers, one as a horseman and the other in the charitable sector in which I still work today. Every day, however, I either play the flute or the piano and compose while improvising at the keyboard.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future? No, I am not because there will always be a place for beautiful music played by accomplished, dedicated musicians performing on classical instruments. However, the continuing success of classical music in sustaining and attracting new audiences will depend on concert programs containing tonal music, that is music with great melody that contrasts strongly with those compositions that appear to have been produced solely for their intellectual content.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Its role will continue to be one of the essential elements in film making as its power in creating mood and atmosphere is unsurpassed. My great hope is that tonal music will not only live on, but more will be created. Technology plays such a significant part of our lives today, especially those of younger people, that musical video games will, I think, be a further developing market.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

This is a challenging question because it could be argued that all musicians are creative in one form or another. It is because they are creative by nature, of course, that they enter the world of music in the first place. I would like to think that I have a high level of creativity myself when composing and that the creation comes from the heart rather than being based primarily on pre-learned technical formats. Creativity needs to come from our emotions, passions and an innate desire to produce something of beauty. I strongly believe there is a need to return to more traditional methods of music creation involving a melodious style which draws the listener.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

It is vital that music through live performance remains accessible to all and that discounted concert tickets are available to both students and those in retirement so that they can afford to attend. At the South Bank in London it is wonderful to wander in to the foyer and hear a group of musicians playing where people can stop and listen at no charge. It would be wonderful to see this multiplied on a wider scale throughout Eurpose and beyond.

Those of us who live through music should take every opportunity we can to introduce others to our wonderful musical world, especially those who say they want to discover classical music. Many years ago someone asked me how they could become initiated and what music I recommended they listen to. I believe she was surprised when I lent her recordings of Ashkenazy playing the Chopin Nocturnes as this was not the music she expected me to produce. But she came back to me afterwards saying she had been transfixed by the beauty of what she had listened to. She said she wondered how she could have lived for the amount of time she had without experiencing such wonderful music. Clearly it was the start of her musical journey.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

There is no set pattern to the creative process for me. Sometimes musical themes simply enter my head and I wonder where they have come from, inevitably wondering whether I have heard them somewhere until I check with family and friends that they have never heard the music before. At other times the process develops for me while improvising at the piano. I have two pianos, one being my great pride and joy, a beautifully restored Bechstein grand which is over 120 years old. The other is a modern, electronic keyboard which does not do a bad job in replicating the sound of a classical instrument. It is interesting for me to note, however, that inspiration has only ever come to me on my dear Bechstein and never on the modern piano. One thing for certain is that I would not be able to compose without a keyboard of one type or another.

My favourite piece is Shades Beyond and so I am delighted that this is the composition that Anna is performing on her Moving Classics channel. Shades Beyond is one of a suite of three pieces I have composed called Suite Beyond. Originally I composed each piece for solo piano but there are now versions for piano and string orchestra. I was listening to a great deal of classical music at the time I composed these works, especially re-discovering the joys of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Rachmaninoff and this certainly influenced these compositions.

Shades Beyond reflects my concept of when we enter into an unknown situation and the ways in which we might perceive the new people we meet and the situation at large. The piece entails the way in which our first impressions may change when we go on to discover that there are shades beyond what we first thought.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Listen to great classical masters and make a point of attending a live concert performance, perhaps of a major romantic piano concerto with a leading soloist. I recall as a young boy, while staying in Florence in Italy being taken to an open air concert at which Maurizio Pollini was performing Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. I was overawed by what I heard and from that day music has filled my life. Young people could do no better than listen to a Mozart Symphony, a Chopin Nocturne and a Rachmaninoff Concerto and they will be likely to be hungry for more!

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Very much so. it is important to me when friends listen to me playing a new composition and comment favourably. This often spurs me to produce something really special that hopefully audiences will enjoy.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

All my compositions to date have been composed at the piano and for the piano. As a flautist as well as a pianist I wish to compose for the two instruments and hope to make a valuable contribution to the flute / piano repertoire. My first work for flute and piano dedicated to the memory of the late great flautist, William Bennett was published this year and I am following this with a further piece for the instrument. I am also nearing finishing a work for strings which I am composing for an excellent orchestra in my area. I will, however, continue to compose for piano solo which will always be a particular passion.