Martin Roberts was born in Manchester, in the district of Eccles on 1st July 1941. He was the only child of Morris and Evelyn Roberts. Morris played the violin from an early age and in his twenties played in cinemas during the silent movie era. In later life, Morris collected antiques and along with his wife Evelyn ran the Eccles Pet Stores, a favourite haunt for many local children and their parents. They did however encourage their son Martin’s musical tendencies in which he proved to have considerable talent.
The Roberts family stayed in Eccles for much of their life. Martin quickly showed interest in learning to play the violin and supported by his father took lessons at the age of ten years at a small music shop in Monton. At the age of fourteen he developed a keen interest in the guitar. Again supported by his father, Martin commenced his guitar lessons. He first received instruction from Joseph Riding, who demonstrated both plectrum skills and fingerstyle skills. Martin chose to veer in the direction of fingerstyle. With his knowledge of music notation, Martin soon progressed in a classical style and it became abundantly clear that to further his progress he would have to find a tutor who could take him in the direction he wished to go, musically.
Morris negotiated, on behalf of his son, with Jane Rutherford Maitland. (The daughter-in-law of Lord and Lady Maitland) Mrs Maitland was considered one of the finest exponents of the guitar in Malaga. She had studied at the Madrid Conservatoire of Music and recently returned to England from a period in Russia. J.R. Maitland soon became aware of Martin’s musical talents and looked upon him as an outstanding pupil. She exercised an important influence on his musical education. It was with this great regard for him that she bequeathed her guitars and music to him. She died in 1964 at the age of 82.
At the beginning of 1959, only 18 years old, Martin was an already exceptionally talented guitarist and the winner of numerous awards. He was quoted by Mr Terence Usher, president of the Manchester Guitar Circle, as being “amongst the best half dozen players in the country”. Also around this time, Martin came to the notice of Sir John Barbirolli who keenly followed Martin’s career and whom introduced him to Andres Segovia, the great Spanish concert guitarist. Segovia was so impressed with Martins performance that he invited him to his summer school in Sienna.
Martin’s career in music was going from success to even greater success. Around this time Mr Joseph Needham, conductor of The Salford City Police and Symphony Orchestra wrote a concerto for him. In the music circles Martin was often referred to as ‘The boy with the magic fingers’.
Martin appeared on various B.B.C. and Granada T.V. and radio programmes, on one occasion accompanying the famous and glamorous Spanish dancer and singer ‘Rosita’. In his twenties Martin appeared with artists such as Johnny Ray, Rosemary Squires, Dorothy Luxton (Soprano), Margaret Lane (Soprano) and many more. B.B.C. producer Bill Scott Coomber was equally impressed with Martin's performances and was instrumental in his many television and radio performances.
Still only twenty years old, Martin was appointed Professor of Guitar at the Manchester school of Music and two years later Professor of Guitar at the prestigious Shrewsbury Public School, the latter appointment on the recommendation of the famous guitarist Julian Bream, who also took an interest in Martins music ability and subsequently invited him to London to further his career, an opportunity Martin had to decline due to his teaching commitments and the launch of his own guitar studio in Manchester.
Throughout the following years Martin pursued a busy career with performances for the Archbishop of Canterbury and concerts at the Albert Hall, the Free Trade Hall, Lyme Hall and Hassop Hall. Martin also played for a party which included Shelagh Delaney (The Salford Playwright) and Harold Riley (The Salford Artist). Harold later presented Martin with one of his drawings inscribed ‘To Martin, for playing so brilliantly’. Harold later exhibited a drawing of Martin with his guitar.
Among Martin’s close acquaintances was Pepe Martinez, the famous Flamenco guitarist who, before he died, was known to have said that Martin's rendition of the villa Lobos Preludes was the most moving performance he had ever experienced.
A teaching post Martin was sadly unable to fulfil due to other teaching commitments, was a request from the Duchess of Westminster to teach herself and her children the Spanish guitar.
Martin Roberts has attracted the attention of some of the leading British musicians!