Rodney Friend is recognised 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 forty five years. He made his London debut playing Sibelius concerto with the Halle Orchestra and his American debut playing 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 Haitink, Barbirolli, Mehta, Leinsdorf, Solti, Giulini, Davis and Boult. Amongst 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, playing 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 ever leader of the London Philharmonic, working closely with Bernard Haitink, Barenboim, Solti and Giulini. In 1975 he received the unique honour for a British player when he was invited by the New York Philharmonic to be their Concertmaster, playing concerts and recording worldwide with Bernstein, Boulez and 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 Roszdestvensky 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 the 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.
In 2012, Rodney founded/became the Artistic Director of the Cambridge International String Academy.
In the New Year's Honours List 2015, he received an MBE for services to music. He plays a Joseph Guarnerius violin dated 1696.