Dominic Muldowney has created award-winning music for the stage, screen and concert hall. A composer of extraordinary versatility, central to his orchestral work is an important sequence of concerti which deftly combine complex polyrhythmic experimentation with a fascination with the sounds and gestures of jazz and other musical vernaculars.
One of Muldowney’s finest and most loved works is his 1992 Oboe Concerto, composed for – and later recorded by – Roy Carter and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Subtitled ‘a song cycle’ for oboe and orchestra, this attractive 25-minute work displays the composer at his most lyrical. With teasing, fleeting resonances of Gershwin and Ravel rubbing shoulders with jazz elements and Latin-American rhythms, faded waltzes and expansive, endlessly dovetailing melodies. Four exquisitely orchestrated ‘songs’ are interleaved with oboe recits accompanied by percussion.
Listen to the Oboe Concerto here
Muldowney studied at Southampton University with Jonathan Harvey, at York University with Bernard Rands and David Blake, and privately with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, who invited him to be his Assistant Music Director at the Royal National Theatre, London. He succeeded Birtwistle as Director in 1981 and remained there until 1997 and was also Composer in Residence to Southern Arts Association (1974-76) and more recently, between 1996-98 was Composer in Association to the Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square.
It was through theatre work that his love of Brecht’s poetry was intensified and he has made many settings. The backbone of orchestral music is an important sequence of concerti (for piano, saxophone, oboe, violin, percussion, trumpet and trombone) many of which explore his fascination with vernacular gestures and polyrhythmic experimentation. Other important works include the Three Pieces for Orchestra (1991), the song cycle Lonely Hearts (1988) and three full-length ballets including The Brontës (1994).
Muldowney’s radio opera The Voluptuous Tango (1996) won the Prix Italia in 1997, and the Gold Award for Best Radio Drama at 1997 Sony Drama Awards, receiving its stage premiere as part of the Hoxton New Music Days, London in 2000. Muldowney has written much music for TV and film including The Ploughman’s Lunch (1983), 1984 with Richard Burton and John Hurt (1984), The Ginger Tree (1989), Sharpe (1993), the theme music for the inaugural annual International Classical Music Awards (1993), The Peacock Spring (1996), King Lear (1997), Bloody Sunday (2002) and Copenhagen (2002).
Other works include Leaves on the Line, premiered at 2002 BBC Proms by The King’s Singers, The Fall of Jerusalem (2000) for Leeds Festival Chorus, a Second Piano Concerto (2002) which was premiered to much acclaim by pianist Angela Hewitt, with Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and a Serenade for Horn and Strings written for Richard Watkins and The Goldberg Ensemble.