Photo credit: John Miller


Beethoven: Sonata Op.31 No.2

Liszt: Legend No. 2 'St Francis of Paul walking on the waves'

Douglas Lilburn: composition to be announced

DENYS TRUSSELL was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1946. His mother, Eunice was a soprano singer, his father William a pianist. Almost the entire family were musicians. He resolved therefore, not to be, and dedicated his early life to drawing ships and to juvenile delinquency. He bribed his piano teacher to ignore his lack of practice in return for ship drawings. When the drawings covered all the walls of the teacher's studio the confession had to be made to Eunice Trussell that her son was not turning into a piano player.

In 1958 William Trussell returned to New Zealand after six years in Europe and study under Marcel Ciampi at the Paris Conservatoire. He began preparing recitals to play in New Zealand. Something clicked. By 1960 Denys has gone into his father's studio and apprenticed himself to music. His father would be almost his sole teacher, and he worked with him from 1960 to 2008, six months before Willliam Trussell's death.

The apprenticeship was interrupted by many other activities : university study in literature and history; the establishing of Friends of the Earth in New Zealand in 1975; engagement in environmental campaigns; periods living in Australia and London; working for Edward Goldsmith of The Ecologist, UK, as an editor and writer; and writing books of biography, poetry, and eco-philosophy. But pianism remained central.

He gave his first recitals at the very late age of 32, and still tries to play recitals every year. He also teaches piano students and continues, with limited success, to hold too many projects together in literature, music and ecology. He has no formal qualifications in music, but has a doctorate in literature from the University of Auckland. In 2010 he attempted a synthesis of music and ecology in an essay published in France, "Quelle Est La Nature de la Musique" (L'Écologiste 32, Paris, Summer, 2010).

The bad habit of having spread himself too wide shows no signs of lessening, and causes him at times to wonder if he should have remained a juvenile delinquent and draughtsman of ships. (Auckland 2016)