Barry Douglas was born in Belfast where he studied the piano, clarinet, cello and organ. He also conducted choirs and chamber ensembles. At the age of 16 Barry had lessons with Felicitas Le Winter, a pupil of Emil von Sauer (herself a pupil of Liszt). In London he studied at the Royal College of Music with John Barstow for four years and studied privately with Maria Curcio, herself a pupil of Arthur Schnabel, before going on to study with the Russian pianist Yvegeny Malinin in Paris.
Barry Douglas won the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow - the only non-Russian since Van Cliburn to have won this prestigious award outright. He had previously won the Bronze Medal at the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas in 1985 and the top prize in the Santander Paloma O'Shea competition in Spain.
Barry's guides in his conducting studies were Marek Janowski and Jerzy Semkov in Paris.
Barry Douglas has performed with every major international orchestra and collaborated with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Colin Davis, Lawrence Foster, Valery Gergiev, Marek Janowski, Mariss Jansons, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, André Previn, Mstistlav Rostropovich, Kurt Sanderling, Leonard Slatkin, Yvegeny Svetlanov, Yuri Temirkanov and Michael Tilson-Thomas as well as Neemi Jarvi, Krjstian Jarvi and Paavo Jarvi.
Recently Barry has enjoyed huge success with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, I Pommerigi Musicali - Milan, Italy, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Novosibirsk Chamber Orchestra., RTE National Symhony Orchestra in Dublin, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.
With the great success of his orchestra, Camerata Ireland, Barry Douglas increasingly devotes his time to directing from the piano and conducting. He has led cycles of the complete Beethoven Symphonies (in November 2002) and Mozart and Schubert Symphonies and Mozart Concertos in 2000 and 2001. Barry and Camerata Ireland have enjoyed a relationship with the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, where they have been performing the Mozart Piano Concertos. Barry enjoys productive relationships with the Bangkok, Vancouver and Belgrade Orchestras.
Barry Douglas received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year's Honours List for services to music. He also received a Fellowship of the Royal College of Music where he is Prince Consort Professor of Piano. He also received an Hon. Doctorate of Music from Queens University Belfast. In September 2007 an honorary D.Mus was conferred on Barry by the National University of Ireland at Maynooth. In May 2009 he received an honorary Doctorate of Music from the Uinversity of Wyoming in the US. Barry is also a Visitng Professor at the Dublin Conservatory of Music at Dublin Institute of Technology.
He is Artistic Director of The Clandeboye International Festival in N Ireland (August each year) and the Castletown Concerts each September - under the auspices of Camerata Ireland. The 2010 Castletown Concerts saw the great Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki as guest of honour. Maestro Penderecki was awarded an honorary doctorate of music by the National University of Ireland in Maynooth and he conducted his famous 1960's piece ‘Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima'.