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Remembering Oswald Russell

Published:Friday | July 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Jamaican master pianist Oswald Russell passed away in Geneva, Switzerland recently.

He was the son of Jim Russell, former registrar of births and deaths.

Oswald Russell was a member of the St George's College class of 1948. He distinguished himself internationally as a world-class pianist and composer.

Born in 1933, he made his first public appearance at the age of eight and, while at St George's, played solo in the school's musical plays.

He later won a scholarship to study at The Royal Academy of Music in England, graduating in 1956. He continued his studies in Paris at the famed Juillard School of Music before returning to Jamaica in 1963 as professor of piano at the Jamaica School of Music.

He has won several international piano competitions, including the BBC Mozart competition in London in 1968, and has played in concerts in France, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Russia as soloist, and in chamber music ensembles with symphony orchestras.

In 1989, the city of Geneva commissioned him to compose Caraibes for the Harmonie Nautique, the official wind band of Geneva. He has also composed works for piano, flute solo and cello solo, viola with organ.

Since 1970, Russell held the post of professor of Keyboard Harmony and Improvisation at The Conservatorire Populaire in Geneva, at the Jacones-Dalcroze Institute of Geneva, as well as the Conservatorire de Musique of Geneva, before retiring in 1999.

He was inducted into the Hallowed Hall of Fame of St George's College in 2002.

Russel leaves wife Danielle and daughter Alexandra.