Sunday 9 December 2012

Jonathan Harvey 1939 – 2012

The composer Jonathan Harvey has died at the age of 73 years. Born in Warwickshire, he was a chorister at St Michael's College, Tenbury and a music scholar at St John's College, Cambridge. Jonathan Harvey also gained doctorates from the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and studied privately with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller. A Harkness Fellow at Princeton from 1969 to 1970, where he studied with Milton Babbitt, he was later invited by Pierre Boulez to work at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) in Paris.

Brought up very much in the Anglican Church tradition, Harvey’s musical influences nevertheless included Schoenberg, Berg, Messiaen and Britten and Stockhausen. His early compositions did not feature any electronic elements, however, his time at IRCAM resulted in eight such compositions, including the celebrated tape piece Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, Bhakti for ensemble and electronics, and the String Quartet No.4, with live electronics.

His other compositions include three other string quartets, numerous chamber works, Madonna of Winter and Spring for orchestra, synthesizer and electronics (1986), Timepieces: I, II and III (1987),a cello concerto (1990), Tranquil Abiding for chamber orchestra (1998), White as Jasmine Soprano and large orchestra (1999), Body Mandala for orchestra (2006), Wagner Dream, opera (2007) and Weltethos for speaker, choir, children's chorus and orchestra (2011), commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker .

Harvey’s large-scale cantata Mothers shall not Cry (2000) was written for the BBC Proms Millennium and his church opera Passion and Resurrection (l981) was the subject of a BBC television film, and has received seventeen subsequent performances. His opera Inquest of Love, commissioned by ENO, was premiered by Mark Elder in 1993. Speakings, a joint commission with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, IRCAM and Radio France, was the culmination of his residency (2005-08) with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Jonathan Harvey received honorary doctorates from the universities of Southampton, Sussex, Bristol, Birmingham and Huddersfield and was a Member of Academia Europaea.  In 1993 he was awarded the Britten Award for composition and in 2007 the Giga-Hertz Prize for a lifetime's work in electronic music. Harvey published two books, in 1999, on inspiration and spirituality respectively.

Jonathan Harvey was Professor of Music at Sussex University between 1977 and 1993, when he became Honorary Professor. He was Professor of Music at Stanford University between 1995 and 2000, was an Honorary Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge and was a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin in 2009.

There have been many recordings made of his music from NMC Recordings , Hyperion Records , Nimbus Alliance , and Sargasso  to name just a few.
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