Pianists who head for the Lakes

While most visitors to the Lake District head out onto the fells for fresh air and exercise, at one guest house they’re encouraged to stay indoors  – and play the piano.

The sound of music can be heard from the sitting room at 1 Park Road in Windermere, where the host  – who dishes up an acclaimed eggs benedict for breakfast – is also a trained classical pianist.

And Philip Burton, piano teacher as well as hotelier, wants to encourage guests to play during their stay, whatever their musical standard.

philip at piano

“We had a family who came here one half term holiday specifically so that their daughter could practise for her forthcoming music exams,” said Philip. He and his wife Mary now offer a special musical short break package for guests who want to play their Broadwood piano while in the Lakes.

A music teacher at the Lakes School who also gives private lessons, Philip is currently the accompanist for Kendal Choral Society. He studied music at Liverpool University and the Royal Northern College of Music, and dreamed of being a concert pianist. “I tried to pursue it professionally in London, but I came to realise that only a minority make it as a career.”

Instead he, and Mary, worked in the health service for many years until they moved to Windermere to run the guest house. Over the years he’s been director of music for a number of choirs and choral societies, with a reputation for the unusual, such as staging experimental versions of Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah.

And he was given a very special gift by a museum curator in Diessen, the twin town of Windermere, where the composer Carl Orff was born, after Philip conducted Staveley Choral Society in Orff’s Carmina Burana at The Lakes School. It is a bound facsimile of the entire score of the piece, one of the world’s most famous choral works.

Also in pride of place at the guest house, this time on the dining room walls, is a series of framed cartoons. Look closely, and you’ll see Philip in each one, featuring comic highlights of his time as a choirmaster in Buckinghamshire and created specially for him by a member of the choir.

And his own favourite composers? Scarlatti, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, Debussy and Bartok.

They run a two or three day piano package for all abilities, where pianists are promised great fun, and that they will leave playing a piece. Call 015394 42107

marking music cartoon

Detail from one of the cartoons

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