Students play it forward on donated grand piano

Primary page content

A grand piano donated by the family of a late Goldsmiths academic is now a fixture in Music students’ practice and performance.

Jeremy Peyton Jones sadly passed away in 2021, having enjoyed a long history with the College after studying for a Music degree in the late 1970s.

He returned to Goldsmiths in the late 1990s as a member of staff, holding the positions of Reader in Music, Deputy Head of Department and Head of Postgraduate Studies.

Outside of Goldsmiths, Jeremy was well-known as a composer of contemporary music and music theatre.

Following his passing, Jeremy’s family wanted to give something back to Goldsmiths and the piano – nicknamed Robert – was donated to the Music department by Jeremy’s widow Claire Peyton Jones.

Claire said: “In all that we’ve done since Jeremy’s death, I’ve tried to consider what would most honour him. I thought of how much Jeremy loved teaching at Goldsmiths and encouraging young people to explore and believe in the gifts they had, so gifting Robert would put a smile on his face from heaven!

“It was lovely to be able to give something back to Goldsmiths, which had been such a good part of our lives for many years”.

Claire Peyton Jones

Jeremy’s piano is a 1910s Blüthner Style 7 grand, which was bought new by the Peyton Jones family and was first owned by Jeremy’s grandmother, a concert pianist.

It now lives in the Great Hall where it is regularly used by Music students for practise, rehearsals and concerts.

Jeremy’s Blüthner Style 7 grand piano, 'Robert'

Jeremy co-founded and conducted the ensemble Regular Music with a group of South East London musicians, which included colleagues he met during his studies at Goldsmiths. The group were celebrated proponents of the British Minimalist scene in the 1980s, with their first album released through Rough Trade in 1985.

In 1990, the ensemble reformed under Regular Music II, re-recording and releasing much of their earlier music.

As a soloist, Jeremy composed the chamber opera ‘The Menaced Assassin’, which premiered at the Royal Opera House’s Garden Venture in 1989. He also composed a Nocturne for BBC Radio 3 and music for the Balenscu Quartet.

One of his final projects was an ongoing series of music theatre works titled ‘Against Oblivion’, which premiered between 2007 and 2014.

Professor Ian Gardiner, who worked alongside Jeremy during his time at Goldsmiths, said: “Jeremy’s Blüthner piano provides students with an alternative to the bolder, more assertive concert grand piano in the Great Hall, allows for two piano duet performances in that space, and gives an opportunity to those who want to investigate its sonic potential through playing inside the piano, or adding preparations.

As a champion of students’ composition and performance work, Jeremy would be delighted that this venerable piano was continuing to offer inspiration to their musical creativity.

Professor Ian Gardiner, Department of Music

“Jeremy's piano is an important addition to our Department, as well as a symbol of his enduring legacy to Goldsmiths.”