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Michael Nyman

The much honoured English minimalist composer, pianist, librettist and musicologist Michael Nyman was born in Stratford, London, on 23 March 1944 and studied with Alan Bush at Kings College London and at the Royal Academy of Music, also with Thurston Dart.

He wrote the libretto for Harrison Birtwistle's 1969 opera Down by the Greenwood Side, and was probably the first critic to use the term 'minimalism' in reference to music.

His numerous film scores include several directed by Peter Greenaway, including The Draughtsman's Contract (drawing on Henry Purcell), A Zed and Two Noughts (Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber), Drawing by Numbers (Mozart) and Prospero's Books (John Dowland). His score for Jane Campion's The Piano (1993) brought him increased popularity.

Other works include the operas The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1986), Noises, Sounds and Sweet Airs (1987), Facing Goya (2000), Man and Boy; Dada (2003) and Love Counts (2005). In 1990 he wrote Ariel Songs for soprano and band, and many of his works are written for the Michael Nyman Band, which began using rebecs and shawms alongside saxophones, but later became an amplified group with core instruments including string quartet, saxophones, trumpet, horn, bass trombone, bass guitar and piano.

 

A selection of M&V articles about Michael Nyman

Ensemble. The Finest of Them All - The 2012 Hereford Three Choirs Festival, reviewed by Roderic Dunnett

CD Spotlight. An Outright Winner - Dave Lee and friends' horn-centred pot pourri, strongly recommended by Howard Smith. '... positively mesmerizing ...'

CD Spotlight. Superlative Performers - A buoyant divertissement of eclectic items, heartily recommended by Howard Smith. '... a true delight ...'

Ensemble. Pushing Back the Boundaries - London Sinfonietta's 'British Experiments', reviewed by Chris Graham

Ensemble. Elemental Music - Malcolm Miller listens to music-theatre works by Harrison Birtwistle

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