top of page

>>> Biography <<<

Hailed in the international media as “one of the world's greatest solo performers of renaissance lute music”, English lutenist Ben Salfield was born in Staffordshire, UK, in 1971, and has lived in Cornwall since childhood.

After a few months of lessons with Ian Thomson at Truro Guitar Studios in 1984-5, his teacher moved away and Salfield began developing teaching techniques that he still uses today in masterclasses and lessons.

In December 1988, he made his concert debut in St Ives, Cornwall, and two months later received a standing ovation for his performance at a Lute Society meeting in Queen's Square, London. His international debut took place in Cologne, Germany, at the end of a 1993 tour that earned him sensational media reviews. In 1996, after a number of one-off international appearances, he took part in his first foreign tour, in the Czech Republic, since when he has regularly appeared as a soloist and in various ensembles across Europe. Known for his on-the-edge, charismatic style of performance, Ben Salfield has performed to some of the largest audiences ever recorded for lute music, and given concerts in most continental capital cities.

Scores of music festivals, both nationally and internationally, have hosted Salfield's performances, including those at Bratislava, Brno, Cheltenham, Dolný Kubín, Graz, Gyöngyös, Hay, Hof, Nuremberg, Katowice, Malmö, Milan, Modra, Newbury, Nordhorn, Parma, Plymouth, Prague, Prostejov, Roseland, St. Austell, St. Ives, Swaledale, Warsaw, Zlín and Zory.

Apart from solo concerts, Salfield has appeared with many ensembles, from duos to string quartets. He is a founder member of the latin | jazz | rock group "Horsemen of the Apocalypse", which features his brother Jon on Flamenco guitar, plus Rowan Nightingale on bass and Simon Stanton on percussion. The group has appeared across the UK and Europe for anywhere between a few dozen and thirteen thousand people, has been seen on BBC World TV by an estimated 12 million people worldwide, and recorded its debut album, "Revelation", in December 2016.


In complete contrast, he also appears with the Italian guitar maestro Andrea Dieci in the Elizabethan lute music ensemble, "Dieci Salfield Duo". Their UK and Polish concerts in 2015 received the highest possible praise in national magazines in those countries. They also performed together again in Slovakia and the UK in summer 2017, and played live on BBC television. Salfield also appears with a number of other ensembles, and has performed baroque music with string quartets both at home and abroad.

​Salfield has appeared many times on TV and radio in the UK and Europe. Featured in numerous international newspapers and magazines, he is thought to have had more column inches written about him than any other current lutenist. Also known as an editor, composer, lecturer and teacher, he has appeared on juries for many major music competitions, given numerous masterclasses across Europe, and taught in international summer schools inItaly & Poland. He also runs a thriving private teaching practice in Cornwall.

IMG_7356 cats.jpg

Ben Salfield at Nordhorn Festival 2015.

As a promoter, Salfield has founded and directed dozens of concert series and festivals since 1992. Ben Salfield is currently Director of the new Hellys International Guitar Festival, based in Helston, the UK's most southerly town.

Ben Salfield's two solo discs, "10 Years of Luting..." and "Fantasie", are about to be joined by a third in 2022 - which he finished recording in August 2020. The forthcoming disc features renaissance lute duets, with both parts performed by Ben himself.

Following the publication of Salfield's 2010 guitar suite "5-4-10", written for Andrea Dieci, by Polish publishers Modran in December 2012, he was signed up by Peacock Press to produce books of lute music. After twelve editions and four years, Salfield left Peacock Press and announced that he had signed a deal with Danish publishers Bergmann Edition to produce lute music editions with guitar transcriptions.

Since 2013 Ben Salfield has performed exclusively on a Kif Wood "lutar" - an instrument that replaced his now retired Philip Brown 10-course lute after it was rebuilt three times following transit incidents with airlines. The design of the instrument owes more to cutting-edge technology than to tradition, but it looks like a multi-stringed guitar and sounds "like a loud lute". It is both aesthetically beautiful and sturdy in construction, yet lightweight to carry and transport, and does not use traditional animal glues.

In June 2019, Ben Salfield announced his retirement from international solo tours with immediate effect, though he still intends to perform one-off concerts on the Continent, whilst expanding his concert schedule in the UK.

In his spare time, Ben is known as a political commentator and blogger, who has given live radio commentary on UK and US elections, and stood as a candidate. He is also a fanatical cat lover, who lives with six feline friends; and a competitive chess player.

Ben Salfield is endorsed by:

  • Hannabach Strings SLT 815s

  • Kif Guitars

  • Onen Emporium

bottom of page