Jonathan Rutherford was born in 1953 in the village of Churt, near Farnham, Surrey. In 1958 he started having piano lessons. He immersed himself in the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Schubert by listening to his father’s 78s and LPs, his father being a keen amateur musician who had played the violin and sang in local choirs.
At the age of eight he also had cello lessons, and at the age of ten, he was one of the first 15 pupils at the newly opened Yehudi Menuhin School where he boarded for six years. Nadia Boulanger visited the school many times and had a strong influence over the school’s musical teaching.
During school holidays, he visited Lennox Berkeley for composition lessons.
After leaving school he had piano lessons with Cimbro Martin, and during summer holidays he attended Dartington Summer School composition seminars given by Peter Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle. At this period he devoted himself to the music of Mahler, whose music was still not mainstream orchestral repertoire. In 1973 he went to Paris to study piano with Jacques Fèvrier and continued to work with Nadia Boulanger.
For the next two decades he took work conducting and playing in London’s West End Theatre. Shows have included the first West End production of “Annie”, whose Musical Director was Tim Higgs, at the Victoria Palace Theatre, “The Sound of Music” starring Petula Clark and many productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Jonathan and Tim Higgs subsequently have worked together on many theatre projects, Jonathan playing keyboards in the Royal Festival Hall performance of “Nine”. In 1993 he spent a month on a British Council Tour in India, visiting 11 cities, accompanying Miriam Margolyes in her one-woman show “Dickens’ Women”.
In 1998 he moved out of London, to devote more time to composition and to develop his skills as a piano recitalist. His recitals have been highly acclaimed. His playing at the Queille Festival “set a tone and quality which moved us all and pervaded the entire atmosphere … one of the reasons why the weekend was, I think, so special for so many”. A week apart, in 2009, he performed two full-length concerts; The first included Chopin’s 24 Preludes and the 2nd included both Beethoven’s Sonata in E major Opus 109 and the Diabelli Variations. These were his first performances of those pieces, and as is his custom, he performed them from memory. Both concerts, a feat of his achievement, were greatly received and are still remembered by those who attended them as a day to remember.