Julian Anderson

photo (c) John Batten
Julian Anderson
2018 Composer-in-Residence

Julian Anderson is among the most esteemed and influential composers of his generation, with regular performances both internationally and at home in the UK. Anderson was born in London in 1967, taught himself at a young age to read orchestral scores and compose, and later studied formally with John Lambert, Alexander Goehr and Tristan Murail. He was awarded a prestigious RPS Composition Prize in 1992 at the age of 25 for his two movement work Diptych (1990) for orchestra, launching his career. His success as composer has also fed a prominent academic career, which has included Senior Composition Professorships at the Royal College of Music (1996-2004), where he was also Head of Composition for 5 years), Harvard University (2004-7), and Guildhall School of Music & Drama where he holds the specially created post of Professor of Composition and Composer in Residence.  Anderson is also much in demand as concert programmer and public speaker. Between 2002 and 2011 he was Artistic Director of the Phiharmonia’s Music of Today concert series at the Royal Festival Hall, London, and from 2013 to 2016 he was Composer in Residence at Wigmore Hall.

Close associations and residencies with CBSO, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra have contributed to Anderson’s significant orchestral output. Fantasias (2009) for The Cleveland Orchestra won a British Composer Award, and The Discovery of Heaven (2011), co-commissioned by the LPO and the New York Philharmonic won a South Bank Sky Arts Award. The LPO under Vladimir Jurowski premiered a violin concerto for Carolin Widmann, In lieblicher Bläue, co-commissioned by Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Further recent orchestral commissions include Incantesimi (2016) commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Society and premiered under Sir Simon Rattle, and The Imaginary Museum (2017), a piano concerto for Steven Osborne co-commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, who premiered the work at the 2017 BBC Proms under Ilan Volkov.

Anderson’s strong relationships with ensembles including BCMG, the Nash Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, and AskoSchönberg Ensemble have resulted in many commissions. Book of Hours (2004) for ensemble and electronics was written for BCMG and Oliver Knussen. The work won the RPS Award for Large Scale Composition in 2006, and a recording on NMC won the 2007 Gramophone Award. Commissioned by Wigmore Hall, the Koussevitzky Foundation and Casa da Música and premiered by the Nash Ensemble, Van Gogh Blue (2015) won both a BASCA Award and the RPS Award for Small Scale Composition. Sensation (2015-16) for solo piano, was commissioned by Aldeburgh Music and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and was premiered by Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the 2016 Aldeburgh Festival.

Alongside his impressive catalogue of instrumental works is a trove of choral music for which Anderson is particularly known. Four American Choruses (2003) was premiered by the Groot Omroepkoor at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.  His 2006 oratorio, Heaven is Shy of Earth (rev. 2009) was premiered at the BBC Proms by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, and went on to win a 2007 BASCA award for Choral Composition. Alleluia (2007) for choir and orchestra opened the first season of the refurbished Southbank Centre in London, premiered by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Recent choral works include a Magnificat (2016) for ORA and a Nunc Dimittis (2017) for the Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.

Thebans, Anderson’s opera based on the Oedipus myth, was highly praised at its premiere production at English National Opera in May 2014 and its German premiere in Bonn in 2015. His music is frequently used for dance and his association with choreographer Mark Baldwin led to a new ballet in 2009, The Comedy of Change, which toured nationally.

Portrait discs of Anderson’s works have been recorded on NMC (2005) and Ondine (2006). Two discs on the LPO Live label (2013 and 2016) document Anderson’s time as composer in residence with the LPO, the first of which was shortlisted for a 2014 Gramophone Award.

Upcoming projects include a third string quartet for the JACK Quartet, a large-scale orchestral work for Semyon Bychkov and a new work for chorus and orchestra.

Julian Anderson’s music up to 2014 is published by Faber Music. Music written from August 2014 onwards is published by Schott Music.