Dr Nico de Villiers

Key details:

Music | Vocal Studies
Vocal Coach
Nico de Villiers


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

Nico has worked as vocal coach at various institutions including the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA), the Royal College of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London (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 University of Stellenbosch, Pretoria 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 to 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, the Barbican, St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; the Kammermusiksaal in Bonn, Germany and the Mozarteum Grosser Saal in Salzburg. Festival performances include performances at 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. In 2008 Nico performed a complete series of the piano chamber music of Hungarian pianist-conductor-composer Ernst von Dohnányi at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Nico made the first recording of Polish pianist-composer André Tchaikowsky’s Piano Sonata and features in the documentary Rebel of the Keys which focuses on Tchaikowsky’s life and the revival of his opera The Merchant of Venice. Nico performed some of Tchaikowsky’s piano works and songs in the UK, Poland and South Africa.

Nico’s doctoral research at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama focused on the songs of Richard Hageman. His thesis title was The Becoming of a Song Composer: A Critical Re-evaluation of Richard Hageman and His Songs which discusses the cosmopolitanism present in and development of Hageman’s artistic identity.

In 2011 Nico founded the Richard Hageman Society (RHS) to focus scholarship and research into the work and life of this Dutch-born American composer. As director of the RHS Nico opened the Richard Hageman Aqueduct as well as unveiled a memorial plaque at Hageman’s birthplace in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Nico widely performed Hageman’s songs, curated exhibitions of the RHS archives, and presented various lecture recitals and presentations at conferences and symposiums in the UK, the USA, and the Netherlands. Nico co-authored Richard Hageman: From Holland to Hollywood which is the first critical biography of Richard Hageman.


Photo: Matthew Johnson