© Gareth Arnold
Brief Biography: A prolific composer from an early age, John McCabe had written thirteen symphonies by the time he was eleven. After studies in Manchester and Munich he embarked upon a career as a composer and virtuoso pianist (he still tours internationally as a recitalist). He has worked in almost every genre, though large-scale forms lie at the heart of his catalogue with five symphonies, fifteen concertante works and eight ballet scores to his name. Like many composers of his generation, McCabe experimented with serialism in his early career but his mature style is characterised by a dramatic post-tonalism, and vivid orchestrations. The music of John McCabe is published exclusively by Novello & Co. Limited. For a complete biography, click here.
|Key Works: |
- Notturni ed Alba
(1970; soprano, orchestra)
- Chagall Windows
- Arthur Parts 1 & 2 (1999 and 2001; ballet)
- Woman by the Sea (2001; piano, string quartet)
- Horn Concerto (Rainforest IV) (2006)
- Symphony 'Labyrinth' (2007; orchestra)
- Songs of the Garden (2009, chorus and orchestra)
- Three Portraits from 'Arthur' (2010, orchestra)
- Clarinet Quintet 'La Donna' (2010)
|Career Highlights: |
- 1974-6 recorded the complete Piano Sonatas of Haydn (reissued later on CD) for Decca/London
- 1983 awarded CBE for services to music
- 1984 Rainforest I commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York
- 1995 premiere of Edward II with Stuttgart Ballet, choreographed by David Bintley
- 2003 Les martinets noirs commissioned by Amsterdam Sinfonietta
- 2004 received Distinguished Musician Award from the Incorporated Society of Musicians
- 2009 composer in residence at the Three Choirs Festival, Hereford
John McCabe was born in 1939 near Liverpool of Irish descent from his physicist father, and German/Finnish from his mother, Elisabeth Herlitzius, a keen amateur violinist. He decided to become a composer at five-and-a-half, even before he began to study piano, with a pupil of the leading teacher Gordon Green. Following studies at the then Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern) and in Munich, on a German Government scholarship, he began a career as both composer and pianist. Early attracted to Haydn's music, he fell in love with the piano sonatas while young, and later recorded a ground-breaking complete set (now on 12 CDs) for Decca, which has never been out of the catalogue, and has provided a standard for pianists who followed in his wake.
John McCane's compositions, which have been performed all over the world, cover every genre. Among his most successful works is the ballet Edward II, created and choreographed by David Bintley (Stuttgart Ballet 1995), and premiered to great acclaim, by the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the UK, winning among others, the 1998 Barclays Theatre Award.
Other major works to be found in the McCabe catalogue include Notturni ed Alba (with soprano soloist), The Chagall Windows for orchestra, Concerto for Orchestra, seven symphonies and numerous concertos. Cloudcatcher Fells and Salamander have become classics in the Brass Band repertoire. McCabe's full-length ballet Arthur, Part 1: Arthur Pendragon, with choreography by David Bintley, was premiered by Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2000. It is the first half of a cycle of two full-evening ballets, the second of which, Arthur, Part 2: Mort d'Arthur received its world premiere in 2001 at Sadler's Wells, with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Of more recent work, Symphony on a Pavane (2006) was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Labyrinth (2007) by the BBC for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Horn Concerto Rainforest IV (2006) for David Pyatt and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the Cello Concerto Songline (2007) for Truls Mork and the Hallé Orchestra. recent compositions include works for The King's Singers, Stile Antico (Three Choirs Festival), Carducci String Quartet (Presteigne Festival), and the English Baroque Choir.
Many CDs have been released in recent years of a wide variety of his music, from the complete Edward II, orchestral and chamber music, to piano and choral music. The Dutton Epoch recording of his Piano Concerto No. 1 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christopher Austin was awarded the accolade as Best New Piano Music Recording of 2007 by International Piano magazine.
The 2011/12 season saw the release of no less than five major CDs, including his Farewell Piano Recital (Toccata Classics), and, featuring his own music, CDs of piano duos (Quartz), clarinet chamber works (Guild), string orchestral music (Dutton) and choral works (Naxos). He has also been active as a writer of music, and was appointed C.B.E. by HM The Queen in 1985 for his services to British music. In 2004, the Incorporated Society of Musicians honoured John McCabe with the Distinguished Musician Award in recognition of his 'outstanding contribution to British musical life' and in 2006, Liverpool University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Music.
McCabe's music is published by Novello and Company, London.
A book on the music of John McCabe, ‘Landscapes of the Mind’, is published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd. For more information, click here.
- BBC Proms 2013
- The complete programme listings for the 2013 season of the BBC Proms were announced on April 18, and this year’s festival features a whole host of works by Music Sales composers, both old and new.
Running from July 12 to September 7, the Proms features new commissions and a UK premiere by some of Music Sales’ leading composers. On July 25, John McCabe’s BBC commission Joybox will be given its world premiere by the BBC Philharmonic alongside a performance of The Three-Cornered Hat by Manuel de Falla. The fresh and exciting Aurora Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Collon, will be giving Philip Glass’s Symphony No.10 its UK premiere on July 31.
As part of Benjamin Britten’s centenary celebrations this year his Simple Symphony will be performed by Camerata Nordica, directed by Terje Tønnesen on August 31 and A Boy was Born by Choristers of Temple Church and BBC Singers, conducted by David Hill on September 3.
One of Music Sales’ leading composers Witold Lutoslawski is celebrated this year with performances of some of his greatest works. Variations on a Theme by Paganini will feature in the opening night of this season and be performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sakari Oramo. Celebrated cellist Paul Watkins performs Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Cello accompanied by BBC Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Adès on July 17 amongst performances of some of his other works this year.
For the full listing of Music Sales works throughout this year’s Proms season please see the website calendar.
The complete programme of 2013 can be found on the BBC Proms website.