Nico de Villiers

Photo of Nico de Villiers

Deputy Head of Vocal Studies


Email: [email protected]

Nico de Villiers 

South African-born pianist Nico de Villiers is a pianist, coach, and researcher. He holds degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the University of Michigan, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Nico is the Deputy Head of Vocal Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. Prior to his appointment at RNCM, Nico worked as vocal coach at various institutions including the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA), the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Royal College of Music (London, UK). Masterclasses and Workshops include institutions such as the Birmingham Conservatory, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan), Florida State University (Tallahassee, Florida), University of Portland (Portland, Oregon), Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Florida), Kungliga Musikhögskolan in Stockholm, Sweden, the Universities of Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Potchefstroom, and the Free State in South Africa. He has been on the faculty of various summer programmes including the Oxenfoord Summer Programme in Scotland, the Abingdon Summer School of Solo Singers, the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and the International Music Academy in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

Regularly performing as collaborative pianist with singers and chamber musicians, Nico performed in recital at the Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican in London; the Kammermusiksaal in Bonn, Germany, and the Mozarteum Grosser Saal in Salzburg. Festival performances include the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Chopin Birthday Festival in Warsaw, Poland, and the International Johannesburg Mozart Festival in South Africa.

As researcher Nico has a particular interest in the unearthing and performance of neglected and undiscovered composers. Nico curated and performed a complete series of the piano chamber music of Hungarian pianist-conductor-composer Ernst von Dohnányi in London and made the world-premiere recording of Polish pianist-composer André Tchaikowsky’s Piano Sonata (1958) for Toccata Classics (2013). Nico subsequently performed some of Tchaikowsky’s piano works and songs across the UK, Poland, and South Africa. He features in the EntertainingTV documentary Rebel of the Keys which focuses on Tchaikowsky’s life and the revival of Tchaikowsky’s opera The Merchant of Venice at the Bregenz festival.

Nico’s main research activities focus on the life and music of the Dutch-American composer Richard Hageman (1881-1966). In 2011, Nico founded the Richard Hageman Society to focus scholarship and research into the work and life of this Dutch-born American composer. As director of the society, Nico opened the Richard Hageman Aqueduct, unveiled a memorial plaque at Hageman’s birthplace in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, and, following rediscovering the score, spearheaded the European premiere of Hageman’s orchestral piece, Overture in a Nutshell which was performed by the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and maestro Per-Otto Johansson. Nico’s doctoral research at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama culminated in a dissertation entitled The Becoming of a Song Composer: A Critical Re-evaluation of Richard Hageman and His Songs, discussing the cosmopolitanism present in and development of Hageman’s artistic identity. With Kathryn Kalinak and Asing Walthaus, Nico co-authored Richard Hageman: From Holland to Hollywood (Peter Lang, 2020), the first critical biography of Hageman.