Biography and news

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In summer 2016 Elizabeth attended the 18th International Viola d’amore Congress at Luslawice, Poland, a fascinating gathering of musicians from Latvia, Hungary, Germany, Russia, the Czech Republic, Belgium, France, Italy, Qatar, Spain, New Zealand, USA and of course Poland. This was held in the fine new Penderecki Centre, and there were excursions to Krakow, Auschwitz and to salt mines.

Dr. Hans Lauerer, the President of the International Viola d’amore Society, asked me to write an account in English of this Congress, which was published in the Society’s September Newsletter. The standard of performance was remarkably high, some playing stunning, some with great sensitivity, imagination and virtuosity. Elizabeth, with Wioletta Flude, played York Bowen’s Nocturne and Max Tonson Ward’s Meditation upon English Tudor Music. Another performance of British music was of three of Edwin Roxburgh’s Soliloquys, given by Ines Wein from Qatar.

At past viola d’amore Congresses,including those of the International Viola d’amore Society, Elizabeth has played music by Hoffmeister, Hindemith, Roxburgh and more, and has written articles — and of course listened to much more.

In August 2016 at the Grittleton Chamber Music Course Elizabeth gave an illustrated talk on the viola d’amore in the Chapel of Shrewsbury School, joining Christopher Roberts, cello, in a Duo by Rust. She had also given an illustrated talk in the Royal College of Music Museum on 29 January 2013 under the auspices of

On 8 January 2017 at Benslow Music, Elizabeth is to introduce the viola d’amore to violin and viola players for a day. On 15 March 2017 she will take part in a performance of Bach’s St John Passion on viola d’amore and viola in St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge.

Teaching and learning are life-long interests, especially teaching at summer schools, privately and at London’s Centre For Young Musicians


Elizabeth Watson is a London free-lance viola player with a special interest in the viola d’amore. A multiple prize-winning Scholar at the Royal College of Music, she also won the Lionel Tertis Open Competition, open to any viola player under the age of 30. Her most influential teachers were Frederick Riddle, Keith Cummings, Manoug Parikian and Sandor Vegh, and she learnt much from attending wider master classes. Her Wigmore Hall recital in 1970 with Andrew Davis, harpsichord and piano, featured the music of the Bach family and the UK premiere of the Rhapsody for viola solo by Egon Wellesz, studied with the composer: “fluently musical” The Times. Other viola recital partners have been Jane Dodd, Sally Mays and Geoffrey Pratley. Varied recitals and concertos followed, and chamber music at the Wigmore Hall and for BBC Radio. With the Haydn Trio Elizabeth played string trios by Schoenberg, Wellesz, Webern and Hindemith as well as classics. She performed Debussy’s Trio for flute, harp and viola with James Galway, and also with Maria Korchinska, and broadcast with the Music Group of London and the early Nash Ensemble. She has played principal viola with many chamber orchestras, including the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Northern Sinfonia, Philomusica of London, the London Orpheus Orchestra, London Bach Orchestra and Steinitz Bach Players, and has often been soloist in Bach’s Sixth Brandenburg Concerto. She has enjoyed the privilege of playing for such conductors as Klemperer, Giulini and Muti in the Philharmonia Orchestra. In the studio, she has played for films including Amadeus and Shrek, and backed Tony Bennett, Madonna and other pop stars.

A virtuoso viola d’amore player, Elizabeth has given many recitals, played in ensembles and talked about the instrument. On CD she can be heard with harpsichord in The Bohemian Viola d’amore and with flute, oboe d’amore and the London Harpsichord Ensemble in Telemann’s Triple Concerto.

Elizabeth has worked with and learnt from such varied experts in baroque playing as Thurston Dart, Martin Neary, George Malcolm, Paul Steinitz, John Eliot Gardiner and the Dolmetsch family, has read widely and has attended classes in baroque dance.

Elizabeth follows the muse, and it takes her to interesting places.

A Friend of the Wigmore Hall, Tate Gallery and Richmond Theatre, Elizabeth paints portraits in oils and still lifes in watercolour, and lives in an untidy home full of books.