14 June 2021
By Ellie Palmer
The English pianist said she is "vastly honoured and more than a little surprised” by the award
Celebrated pianist Imogen Cooper has been made a Dame in the Queen's 2021 Birthday Honours list.
Cooper, who was awarded the Queen's Medal in Music for 2019, told the PA News Agency: "It’s a wonderful thing. I’m vastly honoured and more than a little surprised and stunned. But it’s lovely. I’ll have to get used to it. I did write it down immediately to see what it looked like and then nearly fainted."
The pianist described the award as a "huge lift" amidst the recent global pandemic. “It was very hard during the pandemic, sitting at home and practising and working for nothing. You made your own plans. But there comes a time when you’ve baked your X load of bread and gone out and chopped the stuff in the garden for the nth time when you don’t have the will to practise because you don’t have to be actually out there in five days’ time."
The English pianist performed Schubert's last three Piano Sonatas at Wigmore Hall back in 2019, in celebration of her 70th birthday
"So it was quite an interesting lesson in self-discipline and in a way it was a wonderful rest but it’s been a long year and I think, like everybody, I found this last lockdown particularly trying and things are quite difficult now because it’s very chaotic because of travelling and the tests and the quarantines, and sometimes you have to sacrifice one concert because you’re still quarantining or whatever.
I’m very much hoping that things will become a little bit easier because they can’t really continue functioning like this. There’s maybe been a little bit of a lack of thinking somewhere along the line, at least as far as the arts community is concerned. So I think in due time, it will sort itself out for the better. But at the moment, it’s quite a rollercoaster.”
Cooper is considered one of Britain's greatest musicians with Mozart, Schumann and Schubert among her specialties. She also founded the Imogen Cooper Music Trust back in 2015, which aims to offer gifted young musicians the opportunity to spend time undergoing intensive study with Imogen herself as well as other distinguished musicians.
Main image: Imogen Cooper ©Sussie Ahlburg RGB