John Ogdon was born in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, UK and studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music from 1945.  His teachers included Claude Biggs, Denis Matthews, Gordon Green and Egon Petri.  In composition he joined the Manchester New Music Group, which included fellow Manchester contemporaries Birtwistle, Goehr and Maxwell Davies amongst its members.

ln 1958, Ogdon made his London debut playing the Busoni Piano Concerto at the Proms.  He came to international attention when he won the Liszt prize in Budapest in 1961 and the first prize in the 1962 Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition jointly with Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Ogdon was equally at home with the classics and in modern repertoire but he was perhaps most renowned for championing the music of the 20th Century British composers.  In addition to first performances of numerous works by the Manchester New Music Group, he pioneered first performances of works by Elgar, Rawsthorne Tippett.  At the same time, he explored much neglected music from the late Romantic period.  He was a formidable exponent of Alkan, Busoni, Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Schoenberg.

He never forgot Liszt and was one of the first players to revive almost forgotten pieces by the composer.

He also mastered the two piano repertoire with Brenda Lucas, whom he married in 1960.

Ogdon leaves an invaluable legacy of recordings made over a span of 30 years.

A complete discography of Ogdon's recordings was published for the first time in the Spring 1998 edition of Gramophone's International Piano Quarterly.  Since then, Ogdon's recordings also featured in two volumes for the Phillips Great Pianists of the 20th Century series released in 2000.

A full biography of the life of John Ogdon is given in the book Piano Man by Charles Beauclerk, published in 2014. An earlier biographical account is given in the book Virtuoso by Brenda Lucas Ogdon and Michael Kerr (reviews).