Francis Rayner was born in Merthyr Tydfil in 1960, and started piano lessons at the age of six. Three years later, he won first prize in the Under-14 National Piano Competition. He then entered Chetham's School of Music, and studied piano with Fanny Waterman and Ryszard Bakst. Whilst there, he gave many solo recitals and performed a number of concertos, including Beethoven's 3rd with the Hallé Orchestra.
While a pupil there he gained the LRAM performer's diploma at the age of sixteen, and entered the Royal Northern College of Music two years later. At College, he continued to perform extensively as a soloist as well as a chamber musician, visiting Prague and the Channel Islands, and graduated in professional performance.
In 1982, he won major prizes in the Alessandro Casagrande competition in Terni and in the Claude Debussy competition in Paris. In 1983, he moved to London, where he benefited from the professional advice of Murray Perahia and Charles Rosen, and continued to perform and to teach both in the U.K and abroad, visiting Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and the U.S.A. He has also broadcast on Italian television, French radio and the B.B.C.
In 1990, Francis moved to Sussex, where he is now regarded as one of the most distinguished musicians in the region. He lives in St Leonards-on-Sea, and, since he is also an accomplished chess player, he takes an active part in the musical and chess life of the region, acquiring pupils in both fields. He has for many years been a member of the Welsh National chess team in events abroad, and has won the Hastings and St Leonards championship nine times.
Musical organizations with which he has been closely associated in recent years include Enfield Choral Society, Opera South East, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Counterpoint Arts, and Hastings Philharmonic Choir.
He has been associated with the prestigious Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition as an orchestral pianist every year since 2011. He will be performing as a member of the London Piano Trio in Vernantes, France in May 2016, and again in Essex in June 2016.