It is 11:15 at night by the time Piers Lane picks up the phone at his home in Putney, half-an-hour outside of central London. Apologising profusely for being a mere 15 minutes late, he explains that he’s been adjudicating at the Royal College of Music since 10am with only 15 spare minutes to grab a sandwich. “That’s 12 hours of listening to Schumann,” he remarks wryly. “It’s enough to send meto the looney bin just like him.”

Lane is one of Australia’s most successful exports, equally respected as a musician and a raconteur, and any fears he might be all Schumann-ed out are rapidly dispelled as he chatters away nine to the dozen. When pressed, he will admit to being a workaholic, even to being somewhat driven. “I like to work hard,” he says. “I feel like I’m not using life properly if I’m not busy.”

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Busy isn’t the half of it. A regular presenter for BBC Radio 3, Lane is President of the European Piano Teachers’ Association,...

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