'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Monday, June 29, 2015

Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium Podcast No 2 - The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo Part 1

After the more technical podcast No.1 on right hand technique which can be found here, Podcast No.2 looks at the history of the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo with some musical examples and also some inside information on the murkier side of the music industry...

Robin's Book, 'The Guitar Gymnasium' can be found here.

During the podcast Robin mentions the duo's first album, which originally started with the Bach Invention No.8, there is a reissue of it here.

And here are the sleeve notes from the initial release:

Colin Cooper - Sleevenotes Hill/Wiltschinsky debut album on Hyperion Records

The brilliance of Ida Presti and Alexandre Lagoya set standards of duo guitar playing that have seldom been equalled. The form is a difficult one. Accuracy and precision are of course prime essentials, but the best duos are welded together by something more: a unity of purpose, a spirit of excitement and even adventure, an ability not only to play as one instrument but also to think as one musician.
Robin Hill and Peter Wiltschinsky, on the evidence of this recording, have that rare capacity. Their performances are alive, zestful, invigorating. It will make new friends for their exuberant playing, and new friends too for the guitar duo form, in which so much can be accomplished.
Some of the pieces are familiar; some not so familiar, though they deserve to be. All are hugely enjoyable. Hill and Wiltschinsky demonstrate their very wide range by adapting their style successfully to every new requirement, from the English lute tradtion of John Johnson to the 20th century French composer Pierre Petit. The Bach Invention that opens the recital could scarcely have been better chosen; light, airy, fast, it nourishes as it dazzles - perfection in 44 seconds (but length is never a prerequisite of great music). And has the Queen of Sheba ever made so exhilarating an arrival?
It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to introduce this remarkable record - as much pleasure as I think it is going to give those who listen to it.

Podcast No.2:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium Podcast No 1 - Right Hand Technique

Today we celebrate the first podcast of Robin Hill's Guitar Gymnasium.
Robin will be making these audio recordings regularly and the subjects will vary widely to reflect his diverse interest and eclectic tastes.

The first one concerns the improvement of right hand technique on the classical guitar.
Robin talks about the 120 right hand exercises by Italian virtuoso guitarist and composer Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) and gives his personal insight and methodology behind his own approach to this classic work.

Here is Podcast No.1:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky

The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo have long been Beatles fans so it seemed natural that at some point they would record their own versions of these incredible songs on this Classic Beatles album.

Some of these pieces have been performed live, especially Eleanor Rigby which the duo frequently played as a much appreciated encore. When introducing it Robin often mentioned the following story:

A journalist once asked George Harrison what he thought of Andrés Segovia and his reply was, 'He's the Daddy of us all."

This got back to the Maestro, who said, "These pop stars might be nice boys but what they are doing is obscene and a disease...I do not like the way the girls go crazy.'

This always caused much mirth amongst the audience.

With these arrangements Hill/Wiltschinsky hope to redress the balance and show that the music of Lennon and McCartney is of such a high quality that it can stand many forms of interpretation.

The whole process was an intense one as they each took half of the 32 songs so that both did an equal amount of arranging. As in the relationship between Lennon and McCartney, the desire to create interesting and unique arrangements to these well known songs fuelled Robin and Peter to become more and more creative.

Sometimes the title alone suggested an arranging approach.
A good example of this is, 'I'll Be Back', which Robin punned as, 'I'll Be Bach', and arranged in a Baroque style.

Another, 'Hard Day's Night', which he thought of as, 'Hard Day's Knight', and arranged in an Elizabethan Lute style.

Who would have thought that, 'She Loves You', would work on two guitars successfully? This one was imagined as a real guitar duo and features many compositional devices such as canon, counterpoint etc.

The hope was always that people would pick up on the many more hidden references and inspiration throughout the album. Even the introductions to many of the pieces present a mystery as to which famous Beatles track will be heard.

You can find, Classic Beatles - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky here on iTunes or cdbaby and from many other digital outlets.

As always, many thanks to Jonathan Keenan for the cover photography.


Friday, October 17, 2014

New Sheet Music for Guitar by Robin Hill - Arrangements of Bach & Pachelbel

After Robin's many years as both performer and composer it is not surprising that huge amounts of both hand written and printed scores abound around our home. For anyone associated with a musician it will probably be no surprise to hear that this music can turn up in the most unexpected places. A Fandango in the Freezer for example...

But in our case much of the music is either original compositions or arrangements.
We have a vast archive of guitar duo, solo, orchestral, guitar & flute etc.etc. There are literally hundreds of pieces of music.

So it is with great excitement that I can announce that we are gradually going to release these arrangements as digital sheet music.

The difficult part was deciding where to begin, so, we have opted for a selection of two very well known classics and an original piece by Robin.

'Canon' by Johann Pachelbel. Arranged by Robin Hill

Pachelbel's 'Canon' is such a beautiful piece of music it isn't surprising it is so popular. Although some arrangements for guitar of this classic are available Robin felt he would like to create something new which would be idiomatic for the guitar.

It is 7 pages long and contains some new, original material and has been well received in concert.
Our edition includes both standard notation, with fingering, and also tablature.
You can find it here.

'Prelude No.1' from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' by Johann Sebastian Bach. Arranged by Robin Hill

Originally in C major Robin has transposed and arranged this piece into the more guitar friendly key of E major. 'Prelude No.1', from 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' is 5 pages long and includes fingering and tablature. You can find it here.

'Return to Islay' By Robin Hill

'Return to Islay' is an original composition inspired by a visit to the beautiful Hebridean Island. The piece reflects the island's simple, natural beauty and has proved a very popular, and often requested, concert item.
You can hear Robin playing Return to Islay here and the sheet music can be found here.

'The Guitar Gymnasium' by Robin Hill

Or to give it its full title, 'The Guitar Gymnasium, A Mental and Physical Workout, Designed to Develop Flawless Technique.'
I have written about this book before, 'Performance and Practice,' and 'Musical Practice Tips.'

It is available instantly here, or from the warehouse here.

We will be adding to this catalogue of available pieces over time so please check back regularly.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

'Life of a Musician - Robin Hill' is 8 Years Old!

Another year has passed and it seems incredible that Life of a Musician is now 8 years old!
But whilst this blog might be 8, Robin has spent practically all his life immersed in music.
Starting out in bands from the age of 12 and continuing right through to the present day.
Many events have been highlighted throughout this blog so feel free to browse through the archives.

As always it has been a very busy year and Robin continues to travel extensively, and perform regularly, around the world.
In fact he isn't currently at home to celebrate this momentous occasion as he is in Denmark!

When not away performing there is still lots to be done. Learning new repertoire and composing new pieces are always high on the list and thoughts frequently turn to recording.
In the next few weeks that is exactly what will be happening.
An exciting new project is underway and will be discussed in more detail in due course.
But for now, the musicians have been booked, the music is prepared and all we need is Robin!
But actually, by the end of August the recording will hopefully be done and the mixing and mastering process will have started.
Then of course the behind the scenes aspects of any new release will start falling into place.

But the last year also saw us re-release, 'Danza - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky'.
This album was originally released by ASV in 1995 and was an important landmark for the Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar Duo. Consequently there was no hesitation from us when it became available to release once again.
You can read more about 'Danza' here, including an original review and the sleeve notes.

During the last year we also had a call from Babak Rahnama, a singer, DJ and Producer.
He was so taken by a piece Robin had written some years earlier that he wanted to collaborate.
So collaborate they did and 'Tomorrowland' was the result!
They continue to work on many more tracks and Robin will soon be travelling to London to make a video.

As I said at the beginning, Robin is away at the moment and last night was concert night.
It was also a very unusual night for Robin as our youngest son travelled with him for the first time.
After a gruelling journey which was full of delays and required the sound check to be hastily rescheduled, the concert itself went ahead as planned.
As he prepared to play, 'Fantastic Mr Felix', from, 'Standing On Air' Robin was able to explain that the dedicatee was, for the first time ever, in the audience.
Naturally this went down very well and youngest son was required to stand and take a bow.
A very proud moment for both father and for son and one that made all the hassle of the previous day disperse in a second.

It is in fact moments like that when all the hours, months and years of solitary practice all seem worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

'Jazz Name Dropper' a poem by Robin Hill

Jazz has always featured strongly in our lives and its influence can be heard in much of Robin's music.
He also loves poetry and often writes a few verses when the mood takes him.
I was therefore not surprised when, 'Jazz Name Dropper', was passed on to me.
Apparently, for some unknown reason, at the time of writing the whole passage was conceived in a gentle Welsh lilt...

Jazz Name Dropper

I had a beer with Chick Corea
Played a shaker for Chet Baker
Had several binges with Charlie Mingus
Strolled in the park with Stanley Clarke
Bought pizzas and ate ‘em with old Art Tatum
Met the wife, Mavis, through Miles Davis
Sailed in a vessel with Barney Kessel
Received a personal cheque from Dave Brubeck
Was dubbed ‘glorious’ by Jaco Pastorius
Walked across Turin with Flora Purim
Played jazz-rock with Herb Hancock
Lived down the lane from John Coltrane
Appeared on telly with Stephane Grappelli
But I never met Django Reinhardt.....(I did however meet his son, Babik).

Robin Hill - 2013

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Danza - Robin Hill & Peter Wiltschinsky

I was absolutely delighted when 'Danza' by The Hill/Wiltschinsky Guitar duo, became available for us to re-release.
Initially recorded and distributed by ASV back in 1995, it had however never been digitally available, so now was our chance to rectify this.

I was also very pleased because this CD happens to be one that means a lot to me.
At the time of its release I was frequently travelling with the duo, as Robin and I were yet to have children... and therefore have seen and heard most of these tracks performed in concert venues around the world.

Before I add a contemporary review of 'Danza' from 'Classical Guitar Magazine' and the eloquent and detailed sleeve notes from the original release, written by Graham Wade, I wanted to add a little inside information.

For example, Tracks 20 is the fabulous, 'Corta Jaca' by Radames Gnattali, taken from the Retratos Suite, this is a stunning piece based on the samba rhythm.
At the time the music was unavailable but the duo were desperate to play it. So, determined as ever, Robin listened to the only recording available and took down the notes one at a time.
As you hear the piece you will realise just what an undertaking this was!
But, worth all the effort as they gave many fabulous performances along with this recording.

I also wanted to mention the, 'Suite Italiana' by Mario Gangi.
Gangi had heard a recording of the duo playing another of his pieces, 'Suite Spagnola' and was so pleased with their interpretation that he composed the 'Suite Italiana' especially for them.
One review at the time of an important concert by the Duo at Rome's Sistine Theatre, in homage to Andres Segovia, mentions that the journalist involved happened to be seated next to Maestro Gangi and that Gangi was, "hardly able to hide his satisfaction for the lovely performance."

'Espagne', composed by the brilliant French guitarist Ida Presti, is the world premiere recording of this piece. The duo, having heard a tape recording of an old radio performance by the Presti and Lagoya Duo, were keen to record and perform this neglected masterpiece. It provides a spectacular demonstration of guitar virtuosity and compositional inventiveness.

The final piece I would like to mention is Robin's own composition, 'Tre Esercizi' (dedicated to Mario Gangi in reciprocity for the Suite Italiana) comprises three movements, Tarantella in E minor (track 8), Canzone in F (track 9) and Giga in A minor (track 10).
The review below, from 'Classical Guitar' states that 'Canzone' contains, "one of those compulsive melodic lines we all wish we'd written ourselves," but it's the, Giga in A minor that I want to highlight.
The main reason being that when performing this in concert Peter Wiltschinsky always introduced this as being, "One of the most difficult pieces we play," which always induced a little laughter from the audience and a sense of trepidation as the music began.
I recall the tension I felt as I played every note in my head alongside the duo, willing them to get through the difficult passages!
They always did.

You can find 'Danza' on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and many other digital outlets.

Below are the original review and sleeve notes.


A new release from the Hill-Wiltschinsky Duo is always a cause for celebration, and DANZA is no exception. From the opening bars of the Giuliani to the triumphant conclusion of Gnattali's brilliant Corta Jaca, this world class team remain on their very best form. Even the modest lute duets are despatched with a sense of style and grandeur which belies their relatively humble stature.
It is, however, the premiere recording of Presti's Espagne which makes this release such a major event. A momentous discovery by any standards, it will remain forever a mystery why this seven minute Fallaesque fantasia was never taken into the studio by its creator and has languished in obscurity since her death in 1967. Rich in texture and strong in thematic material, it is surely fitting that this neglected masterpiece has finally been adopted by one of the present generation's finest pair. Needless to say, the performance leaves nothing to the imagination - Espagne is typical of the colourful and energetic repertoire in which the Hill-Wiltschinsky Duo always excel.
Elsewhere, the situation remains equally impressive. Robin Hill's recently published Tre Esercizi are marvellously sophisticated miniatures, the central Canzone containing one of those compulsive melodic lines we all wish we'd written ourselves. More introspective is Peter Wiltschinsky's gently seductive Nocturne - a strategically placed moment of contemplation before the boisterous jota-based Danza.
All these delights together with the old favourites from Gangi and Vivaldi make this a CD of which no collection should be deprived.

By Paul Fowles


MAURO GIULIANI (1781-1828)


Giuliani was one of the most celebrated guitarists of the early nineteenth century and his achievement in the realm of composition for the instrument ranks with that of Fernando Sor. Giuliani was a prolific composer and wrote a wide variety of works for guitar including concertos, sets of variations, studies, songs, exercises, chamber music, as well as some pieces for duo. A significant part of his career was spent in Vienna where he was well acquainted with Beethoven, Moscheles, Hummel and other leading musicians. In Italy he knew both Paganini and Rossini and may have performed concerts in their company.
The polonaise appeared in the Renaissance under the title of 'polacca' or 'polnischer tanz'. In the seventeenth century the French term 'polonaise' was used for pieces of Polish style or origin and over some decades this evolved into a professional dance faster than a sarabande but slower than a minuet. As an expressive musical form the polonaise was transformed for ever by Chopin whose genius enriched and elevated the concept in eleven spectacular works for pianoforte between 1817 and 1830.
The three polonaises for two guitars Op.137 were published seven years after Giuliani's death by Ricordi of Milan. The Italian composer's approach to the polonaise is concise and energetic, each of the three allegretto pieces having a contrasting Trio section. Rather than the extended polonaise-fantaisie concept of Chopin, Giuliani offers an integrated group of short polonaises, exploring the rhythmic and lyrical implications of this dance through the medium of the guitar duo.


One special aspect of music during the reign of Elizabeth I was the variety of ensemble music. The lute duet was especially popular and John Johnson was one of the first to compose for two lutes in an integrated way, both parts being of equal importance in melodic and harmonic material. Johnson became court lutenist to Queen Elizabeth, and was one of the earliest of the great lute composers of the 'golden age'.
The pavan (also known as pavane, pavana, paduana, and pavin) was the slowest, most stately dance of the Renaissance. It was customary after 1550 to pair the dignified pavan with the more lively galliard, a dance of Italian origin, in fast triple time, involving the dancer in energetic leaping steps. In The Flat Pavan, 'flat' indicates not that the music is out of tune but hat it is in a minor key.
The Fancy or Fantasy, was a form which displayed a composer's contrapuntal skills. Thomas Morley said that, 'in this may more art be shown than in any other music because the composer is tied to nothing but that he may add, diminish, and alter at his pleasure'.
Finally A Merry Mood is a moment of exuberance, a very different mood from the melancholy seriousness often associated with the English lutenists.



These 'Three Exercises', dedicated to Mario Gangi, evoke the moods and colours of Italian music through the eyes and ears of an English composer.
Tarantella in E minor pays homage to the lively dance from southern Italy where the port of Taranto has given its name to a spider found in the surrounding countryside, the tarantula. The bite of this spider was believed for centuries to be poisonous, causing an ailment known as Tarantism, an illness which could only be dispelled by the antidote of a lively dance, the tarantella.
The Canzone, originally a poem of the troubadour era, later became the title for a musical setting of a poem or an instrumental piece with a distinct melody.
Finally Giga concludes the triptych with a dance, the Jig, believed to have originated in the British Isles before becoming popular throughout Europe.



These two pieces are dedicated to the memory of the great Paraguayan guitarist and composer, Agustin Barrios Mangore. The first, Nocturne (written 1993), conjures up the shades of night with a reflective and lyrical atmosphere. It is in the key of G minor with a contrasting middle section in G major.
Danza (Jota), in the key of A major, is a virtuosic movement with its energetic variations based on the jota dance of the regions of Aragon and Navarre in northern Spain. The jota has been called the 'father of Spanish dances' and its origins may stretch into antiquity. It is in triple time, and the dance itself is characterised by swift leaps into the air demanding great physical strength and facility.



Vivaldi was a much neglected composer until the twentieth century was well advanced when considerable research and catalogue of his works, along with a gradual recording of most of his output, established him as one of the greatest of all Baroque composers. He composed 46 operas (of which 21 are extant), 344 solo concertos, 81 concertos for two or more solo instruments, 61 sinfonias, 93 sonatas and trios, as well as many motets, liturgical works, oratorios, etc.
Preludio & Corrente were arranged for two guitars by Len Williams in the mid 1950s. The two contrasting pieces soon became very popular among guitarists and have remained so ever since. The movements are taken from Sonata in D minor, Op.1 No 8, (RV64, P1/8, M. 389) for two violins and cello (or harpsichord).

MARIO GANGI (1918-2010)


Mario Gangi, Professor of guitar at the Rome Conservatoire, is known internationally as a prolific editor and arranger of music for guitar. Suite Italiana was written especially for the Hill-Wiltschinsky Duo in 1988. The Saltarello is a very lively dance in triple time, deriving its name from the Italian word 'saltare', to jump, and according to a note by the composer, inspired by an anonymous saltarello of Rome. The other movements are Melodia, evoking the warmth of a Mediterranean song from the area of Abruzzi, while Tarantella makes reference to a theme from the opera La festa di Piedigrotta (composed 1852) by the Neapolitan, Luigi Ricci (1805-1859), who wrote some 30 operas.

IDA PRESTI (1924-1967)


Ida Presti was a remarkable child prodigy of the guitar, who gave her first public recital at the age of eight. In 1955 she formed a guitar duo with her husband, Alexandre Lagoya, and their work together founded new traditions of excellence in this kind of ensemble which continue to inspire later generations of players. Presti was also an accomplished composer, though her works are not widely known.
Espagne has never been recorded previously and its inclusion here offer new insights into her remarkable creativity.



Radames Gnattali was one of the great figures of Brazilian music in this century, composing both popular and classical music, and teaching many of the leading musicians of his country including Jobim, Bonfa, Gilberto, etc. His suite Retratos (Portraits), from which these two pieces were taken, was composed in 1957. The Schottisch is a kind of round dance or slow polka while Corta Jaca is based on the rhythms of the samba.

By Graham Wade