Burgess learned to play the piano as a boy, receiving limited lessons from his cinema pianist father and picking up tunes from his crystal set radio. Never having received formal training, his music is an idiosyncratic mix of early twentieth-century classical and contemporary traditions: his favourite composers included Debussy, Delius, Holst and Vaughan Williams, and he also enjoyed jazz and popular styles. Here are some recordings of Burgess at the keyboard, including a song performed as part of a lecture about TS Eliot, giving a spirited rendition of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ on his Casiotone 701 in 1981, and introducing his own 1987 composition, ‘Mr Burgess’s Almanack’, to his wife Liana.
Anthony Burgess performs ‘Under the Bam’ by TS Eliot
Anthony Burgess plays Ode to Joy
Anthony Burgess playing ‘Mr Burgess’s Almanack’ at home