Friday 18 October 2019

'Everyone needs a bit of money to steady the nerves'

Pianist Barry Douglas
Pianist Barry Douglas

Barry Douglas is an international classical pianist and conductor who was born in Belfast. Douglas - who is married with three children - lives between Paris and Lurgan in Northern Ireland.

He will be performing at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry from June 28 to July 7. For more information on that festival, visit

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Douglas -and his chamber orchestra, Camerata Ireland - will also be performing in the Clandeboye Festival in Down this August and in Dublin's National Concert Hall this November.

The most important lesson about money which your career as a musician has taught you?

Enjoy your money as you've earned it - though it's also important to use it to prepare for the future.

What's the most expensive thing about being a parent?

We've three children - they're all in their 20s now. When our children were born, they travelled with us [my wife and I] on my tours. We did it for five years until the children started school. I'm glad we did it. It kept the family together and it was the most worthwhile thing I did - but it was expensive.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

It used to be Japan - when I started my career 30 years ago. But now I'd say Iceland. Eating out is expensive in Iceland - but I love Iceland and it's a fascinating place.

What's the most expensive piece of musical equipment you've ever bought?

A Steinway concert grand piano.

What's your favourite coin?

The Polish 2 zloty - I don't think it's worth a lot but it's very beautiful.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

My wife and daughter and I had a bad car accident two-and-a-half years ago. I had a BMW 5 Series at the time. I got a new BMW 5 Series [after the accident] because that car saved our lives.

What was your worst job?

When I was in London studying, I used to play cocktail piano. I used to love Abba so I played a lot of Abba. I played a few pieces by Chopin one night and a guy came up and said that although I was playing cocktail piano, I still needed to play it seriously. I figured that cocktail piano wasn't the right fit for me after that.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

I bought a flat in Little Venice in London - just days before the stock market crash of 1987. The property market went into a downturn after the stock market crash - and interest rates hit the roof.

What was your best financial killing?

Buying an apartment in Paris - which is also our home - is probably my best financial killing.

If you won the Euromillions, what would you do with the money?

We go to Provence every year. I don't want to buy lots of houses but if I won the Euromillions, I'd buy a house in Provence.

What's the best advice you ever got about money?

Everyone needs a minimum amount of money to steady the nerves. This was a quote my father used.

iTunes or Spotify?

My son Liam is a rock guitarist who is studying in Dublin at the moment. He's really into vinyl. I've only ever listened to LPs - piano sounds great on them. So I'm so glad I didn't throw away my LPs.

What was the last thing you bought online?

A DVD of Hot Fuzz.

Would you buy property now?

It depends on the country and market. When Ireland was suffering 10 years ago, that was the time to buy Irish property. In France, property valuation never goes through the roof. So if I was to buy property, it would be somewhere in rural France.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

My piano. My wine collection. A bicycle.

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