"Songs of Triumphant Love is an enthralling novel: I couldn't stop reading. I got deeper and deeper into the very real world Jessica Duchen has created and just had to find out how it would unravel. Jessica writes with an unpredictable and original voice and a dazzling perceptiveness, and I was hooked from the first page. A sensational achievement."

Saturday, 5 March 2016, 19:00 (GMT)

Christ the Saviour Parish Church and The Ealing Autumn Festival
(West London Arts Scene). New Broadway, London W5 2XA.

‘A Walk through the End of Time’

A one-act play by Jessica Duchen 
with Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen
An evening matching drama and music, presented by celebrity performers 

(more information - click on thumbnails to read/print PDFs)

Violinist Jelly d’Arányi 
Clara and Robert Schumann
Orchestra website

Jessica Duchen’s new novel tells the strangest detective story in the history of music…

1933. A world spiralling towards war. A composer descending into madness. And a devoted woman struggling to keep her faith in art and love against all the odds.
Ghost Variations, inspired by real events, tells the extraordinary tale of how the great violinist Jelly d’Arányi rediscovered the long-suppressed Schumann Violin Concerto with the aid of supposed messages from the spirit world.
The concerto, Schumann’s last orchestral work, was embargoed by the composer’s family for fear that it betrayed his mental disintegration. As rumours of its existence spread from London to Berlin, Jelly embarks on an increasingly complex quest to find the manuscript, upon which the Third Reich’s administration has designs of its own.

Though aided and abetted by a team of larger-than-life
personalities – including her sister Adila Fachiri, the pianist Myra Hess and the musicologist Donald Francis Tovey – Jelly finds herself confronting forces that threaten her own state of mind. Saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself.

Ghost Variations has been accepted for a groundbreaking form of publication. Unbound, a publishing house that places the power in the hands of the readers, has taken it up for its new digital list and from 18 January, I have 90 days to crowd-fund the book: ( If you enjoy my other books, my blog JDCMB and my articles, or if you just like the sound of this one, please come on over and be part of it!

For a pledge of £10 you can receive the e-book upon its release, be credited as a patron in its pages and gain access to my “shed” (a new blog at Unbound in which I chronicle the book’s creation).

A range of rewards, however, attend higher contributions.

A special Early Bird deal includes a ticket to join me and fellow patrons to attend the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s performance of the Schumann Violin Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall on 6 February (violinist is Patricia Kopatchinskaja, with Marin Alsop conducting). We’ll have a drink and discussion after the concert. ONLY 9 PLACES AVAILABLE and you need to book by 31 JANUARY.

Alterntively, you can sponsor a character from the book’s cast of real-life musicians: you’ll receive an information pack about her/him, compiled and written by me, including recommended reading and listening lists, plus a special credit in the book. Choose from Jelly d’Arányi, Adila Fachiri, Myra Hess, Donald Francis Tovey and Yehudi Menuhin.

To see the full list of pledge levels and associated rewards, please go to:

To learn more about Ghost Variations, please join us for a special evening at London’s Hungarian Cultural Centre on 21 March. I give a short lecture about Jelly d’Arányi (who was, of course, Hungarian) and David Le Page (violin) and Viv McLean (piano) perform some of the music associated with her – including Ravel’s Tzigane, music by Bartók and Brahms, and a spot of Schumann. Admission is free, but booking is required: please phone 020 7240 8448 or email

David Le Page (violin) & Viv McLean (piano)
David le Page Viv McLean
Hungarian Cultural Centre


Author Jessica Duchen talks about her novel 'Ghost Variations' and the real incident that inspired it: the rediscovery in the 1930s, by the great violinist Jelly d'Arányi, of Schumann's long-suppressed Violin Concerto. Film by Zen Grisdale 


Roxanna Panufnik's website

Garsington Opera commissions SILVER BIRCH, a new ‘People’s Opera’, music by Roxanna Panufnik, words by Jessica Duchen

Garsington Opera has commissioned a ‘people’s opera’, Silver Birch, designed to be performed by professional singers together with community and children’s choruses aged 8 upwards. A dynamic creative team has been engaged to create the 70-minute opera including Roxanna Panufnik (composer), Jessica Duchen (librettist), Karen Gillingham (director) and Douglas Boyd (conductor). The work aims to appeal to the broadest audience of all ages and levels of opera experience.

During the 2017 season the ‘people’s opera’, which is part of Garsington Opera’s Learning & Participation programme, will be performed on the main stage.

Recruitment of the 150 participants has already begun in local schools and community centres. Devising workshops took place in which schoolchildren and members of the local population joined the creative team to explore the theme of war and its universal impact on families, as well as the significance to them of World War 1.

Both the character and poetry of Siegfried Sassoon will play an important role within the piece, connecting the 2017 World War 1 commemorations with modern-day warfare. Performers include 5 professional singers, 2 child soloists, 50 primary school, 40 secondary school, 30 teenage dancers, 40 adults, 17 professional and 20 youth instrumentalists.

Stage works, words & music and pre-concert talks 2015-16

Sunday, 7 February 2016, 3pm, St Mary’s Perivale
Alicia’s Gift: the concert of the novel

The one-hour version of our narrated concert exploring the challenges facing a child prodigy trying to grow up is to feature as part of a performance by Viv McLean (piano) and friends. We’re looking forward to revisiting this gorgeous and atmospheric 12th-century church. Admission free, with retiring collection.

More information from St. Mary's


Tuesday, 9 February 2016, 7.30pm, Hampton Court House
Alicia’s Gift: the concert of the novel

Viv McLean and I are delighted to present Alicia’s Gift in the historical surroundings of this exciting venue across the road from Hampton Court Palace. The performance will be followed by a discussion on the topic of gifted children, in which speakers include Guy Holloway, headmaster of the independent school at Hampton Court House.

More information from Hampton Court House

Saturday, 20 February 2016, 2pm, Wigmore Hall
Alicia’s Gift: the concert of the novel

Viv McLean (piano) and I join forces at the mighty Wigmore Hall to explore the world of the child prodigy pianist attempting to grow up, through the narrative of my novel and fabulous piano music from Viv, with repertoire including music by Chopin, Debussy, Ravel, Granados and Gershwin. The performance will be followed at 3.30pm by a panel discussion, which I’ll chair, on the subject of child prodigies. Speakers include Guy Johnston (cellist), Murray McLachan (head of piano at Chetham’s School of Music) and Michelle Castelletti (artistic director of the Royal Northern College of Music).
Tickets for the concert are £10 for adults and £8 for children (the performance is suitable for children over the age of about 9).

Booking Link for the concert at Wigmore Hall

Tickets for the panel discussion at 3.30pm are £4 each:
Link Here

CBSO website

Saturday, 23 April 2016, Symphony Hall Birmingham, 5.45pm
Pre-concert talk: It’s Shakespeare’s birthday!

I’ll be looking at the different ways composers have responded to the same Shakespeare story, none other than Romeo and Juliet. In the concert, Lahav Shani conducts the CBSO in Romeo and Juliets by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev plus the Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story.

More information from the CBSO website
more to come ....
Recent Events
July 2015
Tuesday 28 July 2015,
(afternoon Performance)

Fishguard Festival, Wales

I’m teaming up with the distinguished British pianist Peter Donohoe, artistic director of the Fishguard Festival, for a special performance of Alicia’s Gift, the concert of the novel.
Link to Festival Website

Fishguard Music Festival 2015
photo Sussie Ahlburg
June 2015
Ulverston International Music Festival

Friday, 12 June 2015, 6.15pm

Ulverston International Music Festival

Pre-concert talk with violinist Tasmin Little and pianist Martin Roscoe before their recital on the opening night of one of the Lake District’s most beautiful festivals.

More information here.


Monday, 22 - Friday, 26 June 2015
Istanbul Music Festival

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it: I am giving a series of four pre-concert talks for the Istanbul International Festival, to be held in the garden of the Hagia Eirene Museum in the historic centre of this great and vibrant city…

Event information:

22 June
The Young Chopin. Focusing on the Piano Concerto No.1, a look at the formative influences that shaped the youthful composer's style, and the qualities that made his work a landmark in the history of the piano. This evening Daniil Trifonov performs the concerto.

23 June
The Fantastical World of the French Baroque. An introduction to the way that the great French composers of this era reflected the imaginative glories of Louis XIV's court. Preceding a concert of glories featuring Magdalena Kožena (mezzo) and Emmanuelle Haïm (conductor)

24 June
Brahms, Schumann, Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim: The Indivisibles. A look at the close connections between Brahms's music and these three vital figures in his life: his short-lived mentor, his lifelong muse and his most cantankerous friend, the violinist for whom he wrote his violin concerto. In the concert Christian Tetzlaff performs the concerto with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen with conductor Paavo Järvi, and the Symphony No.1 completes the programme.

26 June
Mozart and the Violin. An exploration of Mozart's relationship with the figures who to him most represented the violin: his father, the violinist and teacher Leopold Mozart; and his later mentor, Joseph Haydn. Arabella Steinbacher and Maxim Rysanov feature with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in two of Mozart’s violin concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante.
May 2015
Thursday, 21 May 2015, 3.30pm
Classical:NEXT, De Doelen, Rotterdam

At the vibrant annual classical music trade fair Classical:NEXT
I’m chairing a networking meeting entitled ‘Music to Our Ears –
Creative Networking towards Gender Equality in the Music World’.

Our distinguished panel of speakers includes Gillian Moore, head of music at the Southbank Centre, Vanessa Reed, executive director of the PRS for Music Foundation, and Susanna Eastburn, chief executive of Sound and Music.

More information here
March 2015


Sunday, 29 March 2015
The Amati Exhibition at The Langham, London - 19:00

The great Hungarian virtuoso Roby Lakatos and his Gypsy fusion ensemble are giving a special cabaret-style performance as part of the Amati Exhibition at the Langham. As editor of The Amati Magazine, I’m introducing them.

Tickets are £24 and can be booked here:

Roby Lakatos and his Ensemble
January 2015
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 at 6.15pm
Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Pre-Concert Talk at the CBSO: I revisit the life of Erich Wolfgang Korngold and explore his last great orchestral work, his Symphony in F sharp, which will enjoy a rare hearing in this concert by the CBSO and conductor Michael Seal.



Saturday, 24 January 2015
Richmondshire Subscription Concerts, North Yorkshire at Time: TBC

HUNGARIAN DANCES, the Concert of the Novel
Bradley Creswick (violin), Margaret Fingerhut (piano), Jessica Duchen (narrator).

Margaret Fingerhut-Jessica Duchen-Bradley Creswick

Melanie Spanswick met up with classical music journalist and author Jessica Duchen at Steinway Hall recently and they chatted about her career and forthcoming work. The third movement of Ravel's Sonatine which is featured at the beginning and end of this interview is an extract from a live concert given by pianist Viv McLean, who performs in Alicia's Gift with Jessica.
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PHILIPPE GRAFFIN biography CLAIRE DESERT information in French The Voice of Russia, English edition Download David le Page Viv McLean