Michael Austin: Biography

One of the last musical Puritans!”

This eminently suitable epithet was recently used to describe Michael Austin by a German friend and colleague.

And it describes perfectly his approach to the organ and a decision, long since taken, to devote his time to the masterpieces of the early baroque, the organ music of Bach, including ‘Die Kunst der Fuge’, and to the works composed by those romantic and more recent composers who have regarded the organ as a wind instrument controlled by a keyboard rather than a piano with pipes.


Michael Austin was born in the north of England and studied organ, piano and harpsichord at London’s Royal Academy of Music, gaining an organist’s Recital Diploma. He remembers to this day London’s amazingly rich concert life – ‘as the very best education any young musician could possibly wish for’.


After a four year period as organist and choirmaster of Wimborne Minster, he returned to London to teach organ and theoretical disciplines at the Academy.

Becoming increasingly conscious of the need for good mechanical action organs to realise his artistic vision he moved to Denmark in 1977, becoming organist of the Danish church, Markuskirken, in Aalborg in 1979.


In Markuskirken he  created a centre for English music, forming and conducting a vocal ensemble of 10 singers which specialised in the English cathedral repertoire from the Tudors to the present day – albeit singing a good deal of it in translation! Over the years, Danish Radio broadcast a good many choir, organ and chamber music concerts from the church, making Markuskirken’s music famous throughout Denmark and beyond.


These broadcasts  have included a series of Evensongs, and a good many of his own recital series comprising English organ music, including music by Buxtehude, Bach, including “The Art of Fugue”, Mendelssohn, Rheinberger, Reger and Hindemith. Broadcast chamber music series included Bach’s complete sonatas for flute and harpsichord where he partnered the solo flautist from Aalborg Symphony Orchestra.


His concert career has taken him to Australia and to almost every European musical centre from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall in the east to London’s Royal Festival Hall in the west, and he has broadcast on several European radio and TV networks.  Aware of an increasing need to gain the freedom necessary to devote his entire time and energy to his solo concert career, he relinquished his church appointment in 2010.


He and his Danish wife live in the north of Jutland in a house close to the forest – perfect for long walks and quiet contemplation. His free time is devoted to listening to orchestral and chamber music and to playing Mozart on the piano – albeit in private – and to his three cats