Despite his precocious talent as a pianist, Medtner preferred to focus of composition. Having remained (unlike his friend Rachmaninov) in Russia after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Medtner eventually left in 1924.
A tour of the United States and Canada made up of all-Medtner programmes was not a great success, and he settled in London in 1936, devoting himself to composition and teaching. However, he appeared at the 1943 Proms, giving the premiere of his 3rd Piano Concerto.
After the War, a Medtner Society was formed under the patronage of the Maharajah of Mysore. Thanks to his generosity, HMV issued three volumes of the Piano Concertos, solo piano music & songs. In addition, Columbia issued a set of songs with the composer accompanying Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
Following his death in 1951, his reputation went into something of a decline, but his major works are now available for a new generation to appreciate.
His style is often lyrical and restrained, as in the First Piano Concerto, composed during the First World War. After a surging opening theme, the development comprises variations on this theme, which returns about two-thirds of the way through the work. A new romantic theme makes its appearance before the concerto ends with a quiet coda, unusual for concertos of this era.