Rodney Friend is recognized internationally as one of the most outstanding English-born violinists. As a soloist, chamber musician, concertmaster, director and teacher he has appeared worldwide with the greatest musicians of the last fifty years. He made his London debut performing the Sibelius concerto with the Halle Orchestra and his American debut performing the Britten concerto with the New York Philharmonic. He has performed extensively as concerto soloist with major orchestras in Europe, North and South America, Scandinavia and the Far East under such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Sir John Barbirolli, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Sir Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Sir Colin Davis and Sir Adrian Boult. Among his many recordings, his performances with the London Philharmonic of the Britten and Bach concertos for EMI received the highest critical acclaim.
In 1991 he formed the Solomon Trio with whom he toured Europe extensively, performing at such venues as La Scala Milan and recording much of the great trio literature for Carlton Records. It is, however, as a concertmaster where his experience and reputation is legendary. In 1964 he became the youngest leader ever of the London Philharmonic, working closely with Bernard Haitink, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Georg Solti and Carlo Maria Giulini. In 1975 he received the unique honor for a British player when he was invited by the New York Philharmonic to be their concertmaster, performing concerts and recording worldwide with Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez and Zubin Mehta. It is with these two orchestras that he recorded almost the entire orchestral repertoire.
On his return to London he became concertmaster of the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Gennady Rozhdestvensky and a senior lecturer and consultant of violin at the Royal College of Music, where he formed and directed The RCM String Ensemble, touring and performing with many great artists. Since 1990 he has worked solely in the areas of teaching, solo and chamber music performances, travelling regularly as a professor and jury member at international violin competitions. His students continue to achieve success in all areas of violin playing.
In 2006 the first two volumes of his books “The Orchestral Violinist” were published by Boosey and Hawkes and received universal acclaim as being the most important works so far produced for this discipline.
More recently, Rodney Friend founded the Cambridge International String Academy and serves as its Artistic Director. In the New Year's Honors List 2015, he received an MBE for services to music. Later that September, he had the distinct honor to join the faculty of the Royal Academy of Music.
He plays a Joseph Guarnerius violin dated 1696.