I'm not really sure, but I remember reading that he took piano lessons from when he was really young, as urged by his choir teacher who pretty much saw the greatness in him.
But that doesn't give way as to HOW classicaly trained he was. heh.
I read he was trained classically during the period when he and his family lived in India. His mother Jer was adamant that he learned to play piano and she encouraged him to take lessons at school. At first he did these to calm down her wishes but soon he fell in love with piano...the piano lessons were based on classics.
Chopin('Frederic' Chopin) was one of Freddie's favorites and as far as I remember, for example, at the concerts in Earl's Court, Freddie chose some tunes of Chopin for the pre-show music, which is a sort of trivia.
Freddie being interviewed by Kenny Everett for Capital Radio, November 1976 :-
'Freddie Mercury: I did have in my youth… that’s a couple of years ago. No, when I was about seven years old, I did piano lessons and I did up to grade 4 classical, practical and theory. Then I gave it up, as I basically play by ear really and I can’t sight read at all. So I gave that up and all my playing is done by ear. I can’t read music that well, it takes me a long time.'
I read somewhere that he was Grade IV. I have a lot in common with Freddie's classical training. I've got Grade VI and also play by ear.
Modesty is one of my strong points! That's the closest I'll ever get to the great showman I have to say.
Indeed according to the other book( which I have not read recently...), he attained grade IV, but such a grade number cannot describe his fantastic piano playing which made Queen music very special.
I do wish I had heard that radio interview...
Considering the limited formal training he had, Freddie was pretty amazing at the piano. The piano interlude in Love of my Life is particularly impressive. It's taken years of formal training and study for me to understand the workings of harmony and composition, yet Freddie basically did his thing by pure instinct. Look at Melancholy Blues: there's some really inventive harmony in there.
I remember reading that he got up to Grade IV. It was when he was at boarding school in Panchgani India that his auntie suggested to his mum and dad that he should take piano lessons (I heard that in a documentry about his life when they interviewed his auntie, mum, sister ect).