I'm a musician, academic and festival director. I studied piano with Ryszard Bakst at Chetham's School of Music. My main interest is improvised performance, including silent film accompaniments alongside more experimental work with moving images. I'm also interested in the pedagogy of improvisation and the dynamics of ensemble improvisation. 

My PhD research at University of Huddersfield Music Department focuses on improvised piano accompaniment and the production of narrative in silent film. I'm also researching keyboard accompaniments of the silent era, and approaches to improvisation in particular.  I'll be presenting the latest stage of this work at the Royal Musical Association annual conference in Bristol in September 2018. I teach in the University of Huddersfield music department and have led masterclasses and workshops at universities at York, Huddersfield, and Goldsmiths.

I began my professional career as a musical director and keyboard player on musicals in the West End, Since my twenties, I've mixed working as a musician with work in theatre and opera as a director and producer. I've clocked up time with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Opera, English National Opera, Cameron Mackintosh Limited, Opera North, Birmingham Hippodrome, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Radio, Aurora, and City of London Sinfonia.  


In 2016 I founded the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival which has had three editions, bringing live-scored silent film to cinemas, theatres and village halls across Yorkshire. 

I've performed for silent films at Hyde Park Picture House, City Varieties and Slung Low (Leeds), Showroom and Abbeydale Picture House (Sheffield), Hull Truck Theatre (with Hull Independent Cinema), Hebden Bridge Picture House, Stephen Joseph Theatre (Scarborough), Square Chapel (Halifax), and National Centre for Early Music. I've also performed three times with Leeds International Film Festival and taken part in the masterclasses at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone.

I'm a Clore Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Royal Musical Association. 


Photographer: Valerio Greco

Jonathan Best at Le Giornate Del Cinema Muto, Pordenone 2016