'Anderson really is a composer to cherish' The Times
Julian Anderson is one of the most talented composers of his generation and has been commissioned by organisations including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Boston Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Born in London in 1967, he studied with John Lambert, Alexander Goehr and Tristan Murail and first came to prominence when his orchestral Diptych (1990) won the RPS Composition Prize in 1992. Anderson has held Composer in Residence positions with the City of Birmingham Symphony, Cleveland and London Philharmonic orchestras, relationships which produced an impressive body of orchestral works including Stations of the Sun (1998, a BBC Proms Commission) and Eden (2005, Cheltenham Festival). Fantasias (2009), written for the Cleveland Orchestra, won a British Composer Award and The Discovery of Heaven (2011), a co-commission by the New York Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded a South Bank Sky Arts Award. Both works were recorded by the LPO live label.
Anderson’s first opera, Thebans, with a libretto by playwright Frank McGuinness based on the Sophocles’ Theban plays, premiered at English National Opera in May 2014 in a production by Pierre Audi and received its German premiere in Bonn in May 2015.
Book of Hours for ensemble and electronics (2004, a commission from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group) won the 2006 RPS Award for Large Scale Composition and featured on a NMC portrait disc. This was one of two recordings of his music to be nominated for a 2007 Gramophone Award, the other being the eventual winner, Alhambra Fantasy (Ondine). Poetry Nearing Silence (1997), originally a commission from the Nash Ensemble, was later arranged to become a successful ballet choreographed by Mark Baldwin. In 2009, Anderson and Baldwin collaborated again on a Darwin-inspired ballet, The Comedy of Change, which toured nationally with Rambert.
Anderson is an active composer of choral works. His Four American Choruses (2003) were premiered at the Concertgebouw by the Netherlands Radio Choir and Bell Mass (2010) was written for the Choir of Westminster Abbey and James O’Donnell. In 2011, Anderson was a double winner at the British Composer Awards with Bell Mass winning in the liturgical category and Fantasias taking the orchestral prize. His 2006 oratorio Heaven is Shy of Earth (rev. 2009) - premiered at the BBC Proms, and subsequently released through Ondine, was awarded the BASCA award for Choral Composition in 2007. Alleluia for choir and orchestra (2007) was written to open the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall, whilst Harmony was commissioned for the First Night of the BBC Proms 2013. A disc of his choral works, recorded by the Choir of Gonville and Caius College, was released on Delphian in 2017.
Renowned as a teacher and programmer Anderson has held senior professorships at the Royal College of Music, London (1996-2004, where he was Head of Department for five years) and at Harvard University (2004-7), and is currently Professor of Composition and Composer in Residence at Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Former students include Huw Watkins, Daniel Kidane, Helen Grime, Mark Simpson, Hannah Kendall, Donghoon Shin, Ulrich Kreppein, Christopher Trapani, Han Lash and Edmund Finnis. He was Artistic Director of the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series from 2002 to 2011 and in 2012 he was appointed Vice President of the Conseil Musical de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco.
Recent works include Exiles for soprano, chorus and orchestra (2021), commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Symphony No. 2 ‘Prague Panoramas’ (2019-2021), commissioned by the BBC, Munich Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra was premiered at the BBC Proms in 2022, conducted by dedicatee Semyon Bychkov.
Recent works include Exiles for soprano, chorus and orchestra (2021), commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Symphony No. 2 ‘Prague Panoramas’ (2019-2021), commissioned by the BBC, Munich Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra, was premiered at the 2022 BBC Proms by Semyon Bychkov
From 2013-2016 Anderson was Composer in Residence at London’s Wigmore Hall. His solo and chamber works have been performed by the Nash Ensemble (who released a portrait disc of his work on NMC), Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the Arditti and JACK quartets, Lawrence Power and Carolin Widmann (for whom Anderson also composed the 2015 Violin Concerto ‘In lieblicher Bläue’).
Anderson was awarded the CBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours and the Monaco Chevalier de l’Ordre de Mérite Culturel in October 2022. He is currently President of the Music Council for the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco and Senior Professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Works composed by Julian Anderson from August 2014 onwards are published by Schott Music