Pianist Grace Francis was born in East London and attended the Yehudi Menuhin School where she studied with Peter Norris and Louis Kentner. At the Royal College of Music, Grace studied with Irina Zaritskaya and was awarded the Chappell Gold Medal, the highest award for a pianist. She continued her studies with a Wingate Scholarship in the UK, also receiving the Hattori Foundation Award and winning the international competition, Negrada Piano House Award, in Zagreb.
Grace has given many concerts in the U.K. including at major London venues such as the Wigmore Hall, St John's, Smith Square, the Barbican and the Purcell Room of the South Bank Centre. Following the success of her Brahms/Liszt recording on the Quartz Label, she performed the Grieg Piano Concerto in Lugano with the European Union Youth Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Ms Francis's recitals have included a performance at the Bath MozartFest, which was recorded live and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
She also performed at a number of literary festivals during the Liszt bicentenary year in 2011 together with John Spurling, author of A Book of Liszts. She has broadcast several other times on BBC Radio 3 performing with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and in a recital of works by Chopin, Field and Novak.
Grace's repertoire is wide-ranging and varied and includes Haydn, Beethoven, Carl Vine and Colin McPhee.
She made her New York debut at the Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall in 2012 playing Brahms Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, Prokofiev Visions fugitives and Liszt's Vallée d'Obermann, Sposalizio and Mephisto Waltz as part of Carnegie Hall's 'Distinctive Debuts' series.
In 2014 Grace played in the 'PIANOWORKS' (Patron: Vladimir Ashkenazy) gala concert at the Cadogan Hall and 2016 saw the digital release of 'Sacred'. This was also broadcast over several days on BBC Radio 3 in 2015 for 'International Women's Day'.
Grace's latest CD 'Consolation' (Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt) was released in June 2017 to critical acclaim and is now available from Amazon.
Photograph by Benjamin Ealovega
No cuts or alterations of any kind should be made to this biography without the consent of Grace Francis.
- Consolation (Brahms: Sonata No3 in F minor Op5 / Liszt: Sonata in B minor, No 3 in D flat) (Quartz QTZZ 2124)
An outstanding record in every regard. Grace Francis's performances of both Sonatas are superbly convincing in technique and musicianship. Her account of the Liszt Sonata is spellbinding in her intellectual grip of the work's unique structure and of its constantly-changing expressive power. Much the same can be said of her performance of the Brahms Sonata, which in less sensitive hands can become rather too much of a good thing, but which Francis displays as a powerful and original masterpiece throughout. Two great performances, to which I shall return again and again, very well recorded.
- James Palmer, Musical Opinion Quarterly, October - December 2017 (FIVE STAR REVIEW)
- Consolation (Brahms, Liszt) (Quartz QTZ2124)
Grace Francis juxtaposes the two great post-Beethovenian piano sonatas of the 19th century, Brahms's five-movement No 3 in F minor and Liszt's single-span Sonata in B minor, with the respite of Liszt's Consolation No 3 in between. She plays feelingly and brilliantly, and it's a renewed challenge to decide if you favour a recension of classicism (the Brahms) or the romantic avant-garde. This disc made me feel the Liszt is the greater work, for all Brahms's biting power.
- PD, The Sunday Times Culture, 17 September 2017 | Buy from Amazon
- Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition/Rachmaninoff: Sonata No 2 (1931 version)
An interesting juxtaposition, and although the 1931 version of Rachmaninoff's B flat minor Sonata no longer holds sway with as many pianists as it once did, Grace Francis gives a simply superb account of it, as she does of the (still under-rated) Corelli Variations, plus a dazzling and unfailingly original view of Pictures; in terms of musical character and virtuosity, this is a wholly outstanding disc.
- JP, Musical Opinion (November-December 2013)
- I was immediately struck by her superb pianism, her commanding and intelligent musicality and a seriousness and intensity of focus in performance which makes her someone special.
- Stephen Hough
- I shall be haunted by this recital's rich beauty for a very long time.
- Geoffrey Crankshaw, Musical Opinion
- Grace Francis is a pianist of phenomenal talent.
- David Cairns
- Grace Francis is a brilliant pianist.
- Mitsuko Uchida