A Life in Music – Ruth Nye and the Arrau Heritage: Book Review

A Life in Music: Ruth Nye and the Arrau ...

This recently published, fascinating book is a must for piano enthusiasts everywhere. Having met and interviewed concert pianist and celebrated piano teacher, Professor Ruth Nye last year, it was a pleasure reading about her life and her amazing musical relationship with one of the greatest piano virtuosos of the Twentieth Century, Claudio Arrau.

A Life in Music was written by Roma Randles, a friend, pupil and admirer of Ruth Nye’s work. The book charts Ruth Nye’s life from the beginning; describing her upbringing and musical education  with her siblings in Australia, her work as a concert pianist, the importance of meeting her husband Ross, their move to New York and her subsequent studies with Arrau, as well as outlining her outstanding work as a piano teacher.

Arrau’s beliefs and teaching philosophies are noted in detail including many interesting anecdotes, repertoire preferences, and information about his practice regime. Ruth stayed with the Maestro many times, even accompanying him on tour. She was clearly hugely influenced by his wonderful coaching and  warm personality, and this is portrayed very effectively.

There are tributes throughout from pianist friends and pupils including Piers Lane, Bobby Chen, John Lill and Terry Lewis. Another highlight is the inclusion of transcripts of two lectures Ruth gave at the piano shop, Jaques Samuel Pianos in London, called ‘My Time with Arrau’. There is a chapter featuring Fazioli, the Italian piano manufacturer much admired by Ruth, and other chapters focusing on her work at the Yehudi Menuhin School and The Royal College of Music. Also worth noting is the author’s question and answer session at the end of the book, where Ruth demonstrates in detail her own teaching philosophies.

Ruth’s unique talents as a performer and teacher are well documented in this biography and the Arrau legacy is of vital historical importance because of the maestro’s link to Liszt, Beethoven, Czerny and Haydn (through Arrau’s own teacher Martin Krause).

  • Hardcover: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd (28 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781485534
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781485538
  • £15.99

You can buy A Life in Music; Ruth Nye and the Arrau Heritage from Amazon.


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

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