Oswald Russell was born in August 1933 in Kingston, Jamaica, son of the popular and respected Jim Russell, long-time Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in that city. He began his piano studies under the direction of Ena Helps.
About Ena Helps -
Early concerts -
Daily Gleaner, December 20, 1944
The closing Session of the training course for Catechists which started in October on St George's College Hall at Winchester Park took place on Sunday forenoon last . . .
The programme opened with an overture on the piano, entitled "Butterfly" rendered by Master Oswald Russell, a son of Mr and Mrs Jim Russell.
He [the Bishop] also complimented those who had read papers at the closing Session, as well as their little entertainer Master Russell.
Daily Gleaner, December 21, 1944
PUPILS' CHRISTMAS CARNIVAL ENJOYED
A successful Christmas Carnival was held by the junior pupils of Mrs Blanche Packer's Studio recently at the Woman's Club, Half Wav Tree Road.
Novelty stalls and a flower stall were all well patronized and Master Oswald Russell, a brilliant pupil, entertained throughout the afternoon.
A children's concert featuring the Percussion Band was the musical entertainment of the evening. Little Shirley Wood, a member of the band, and a pupil of Miss Sybil Foster Davis, rendered two delightful vocal solos. Allison Packer and Sheila Hart were well received singing a duet "Norwegian Dance" No 3 by Grieg. Other items were contributed by Oswald Russell, in Grieg's 'March of the Dwarfs; Allison Packer in a recitation, 'Overhead of Salt Marsh.'
Daily Gleaner, October 6, 1949
Spanish-Speaking Colony To Enjoy Colourful 'Velada'
The Spanish department of St. George's College, with the generous collaboration of the Spanish-speaking consuls of Kingston, will present another "velada" in the college hall on Friday, October 14, commencing at 8 p.m. Besides the customary literary, and musical numbers, this year's programme contains a Spanish play.
These literary numbers will have an attractive musical setting. The choristers of St George's College will sing the famous Spanish hymn. "La Marcha de San Ignacio", with Oswald Russell at the piano.
[Oswald Russell was a pupil at St. George's College.]
Some radio performances, sponsored by the Jamaica Public Service Company -
Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music
Jamaica was devastated by Hurricane Charlie over August 17th-18th, 1951!
Friday, September 7, 1951
Mr Oswald Russell, son of Mr. Jim Russell, City-Registrar, and Mrs. Russell, left the island Wednesday afternoon by BOAC Constellation airliner for London to study at the Royal Academy of Music.
A past student of St. George's College, he was formerly attached to the Administrator General's Office.
Daily Gleaner, December 27, 1952
Daily Gleaner, January 27, 1953
Personal Mention by Kitty Kingston
Personal Mention by Kitty Kingston
Daily Gleaner, March 11, 1953
So he worked at the Royal Academy in London under the direction of Eric Grant, where he won a First Prize/Gold Medal. Later he studied in Paris with Jacques Février, and finally at the Juilliard School in New York with Edward Steuermann, also meeting with Leonard Bernstein and other modern American composers.
In 1964, he settled in Geneva, where he studied with Louis Hiltbrand and, at the same time pursued, under the direction of A. F. Marescotti, the studies in composition which he had begun in London with Lennox Berkeley.
Having been Professor of improvisation at the Geneva Conservatoire and at 'Institut Jacques-Dalcroze', Oswald Russell is above all a concert performer. He has given concerts worldwide, in Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany, the former Yugoslavia, England, Spain, Jamaica, the former USSR, the United States, Italy and Canada. Additionally he has directed such distinguished choreographers as Martha Graham, Agnes DeMille and George Balanchine, and is also a composer for the Jamaican National Dance Theatre Company. He composed the film score for 'les Vieilles Lunes' presented at the Cannes Festival in 1969.
In April 2002 the 'Three Jamaican Dances' by Oswald Russell were performed in a piano recital at Churchill College, Cambridge University, UK, by Maxine Franklin, the well-known Jamaican pianist, as part of a programme entitled 'Intercultural Piano Music for Schools - A Selection'. The pieces are based on Jamaican folk songs. The first is a bright and cheerful dance in Allegro moderato time. The second, slow and sad, revolves around the folk-song 'Sammy dead' - a lament for a farmer whose death is blamed on his neighbours' envy of his unusually good harvest. The third develops the lively folk-song 'Rookoombine' into a fast and brilliant display.
[written more than a decade ago]
Professor Russell died in Geneva on July 2nd, 2012.