Samuel is a pianist, arranger, composer, music director, and music historian. With nearly two decades of professional experience, his teaching is a reflection of the skills he has learned in both academic settings, and in the industry. Samuel grew up listening to music with his Grandmother, who taught him the organ before switching to piano. By age 17 Samuel was playing Grieg's piano concerto, Rhapsody in Blue, and boogie woogie piano.
As well as his professional music work, Samuel is also a strong advocate for music education. In 2015 Mosman Piano School was founded to pass on the knowledge of music he has learned, and to enable others to explore the wide variety that music has to offer. Samuel offers high-quality music education focusing on teaching and developing the ‘whole’ musician, so that all skills (playing, reading, composing, improvising, theory, aural, and creativity) are explored and integrated so that students can become creative, engaged, and interested learners of music, and beyond. Samuel’s knowledge of all music gives him expert insight to the music and enables students to also be complete musicians who play written music, compose, improvise, arrange, and go on to make their own creative engagements with music for years to come.
Samuel’s students regularly achieved High Distinctions in their music exams, both theory and performance as well as placing in the top of their music classes at school. Samuel’s students’ regularly gain entry to the Sydney Conservatorium in areas of composition, jazz, and performance, and other students have gone on to complete postgraduate masters degrees in music, education, and other music related fields. Talent Development Project (TDP), full marks in performance, composition, and musicology for HSC Music 1, Music 2 and Extension assessments, and regularly are selected for composition, arranging, and performance at industry workshops.
As well as his performing and teaching work Samuel is Australia’s foremost authority on the "Maestro", Tommy Tycho. He wrote his honours, and PhD theses on Tommy's life and music, and is currently writing the Maestro's biography. He is the official advisor to the Tommy Tycho Trust, and Tommy’s daughter is always remarking “I always learn new things about my Dad from you!”. Samuel follows in the footsteps of Tommy Tycho and combines classical and popular music in his performances, and the audiences love it!
Samuel has a PhD in music from the Sydney Conservatorium which he completed on the life and music of Tommy Tycho, (Title: From Storeman to Stardom: The Life & Music of Tommy Tycho, within the Context of Light Music 1951-1978. Samuel has a 1st class honours degree in music for his thesis on Tommy Tycho’s arranging and orchestration techniques (Title: Tycho the Arranger: The Arranging and Orchestration Techniques of Tommy Tycho 1974-1994), and a graduate certificate in contemporary piano performance. He was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Scholarship to undertake his PhD. Beyond his research he has published in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, was a National Library of Australia Summer Scholar in 2017, where he was the first scholar in the history of the program to give a piano recital in the library. He has published a book chapter on the concert music of Bernard Herrmann in the Routledge published book Double Lives: Film Composers in the Concert Hall, and is currently writing Tommy Tycho’s biography, soon to be published. Samuel regularly gives public performances and talks on his research. He has appeared as a guest for a full episode of the ABC Radio program Rare Collections showcasing the music of Tommy Tycho, and has given several talks at Mosman Library as part of their Adult Learning Week, and Monday Matters Series. He is regularly consulted for publications, and interviewed for documentaries on aspects of Australian music history. In a previous life, Samuel lectured in music at several universities. During the period 2015-2018 Samuel lectured/and or tutored in arranging and orchestration WSU. Music Journalism, A History of Film Music, Fundamentals 1, 2, 3 and Extended Fundamentals, Performance at Sydney University.
As a musician Samuel is a much sought after pianist, arranger, composer, and music director. He has become known for his ‘pops’ style, playing everything from Bach to Broadway and regularly presents variety style programs that feature a range of classical, jazz, pops, Broadway, film music, and more! He directs the Mosman Morning Melodies series with his ensemble and has recently assembled the Samuel Cottell Pops Orchestra and various ensembles, and is putting together the final orchestrations for his debut album!