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Jonathan Harvey (composer)

Jonathan Harvey (composer)

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Jonathan Harvey is a British composer. He has held teaching positions at universities and music conservatories in Europe and the USA and is frequently invited to teach in summer schools around the world.


Harvey studied at St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College, Cambridge
St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. The college's alumni include nine Nobel Prize winners, six Prime Ministers, three archbishops, at least two princes, and three Saints....

, eventually obtaining a PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

. He also took private lessons with Erwin Stein
Erwin Stein
Erwin Stein was an Austrian musician and writer, prominent as a pupil and friend of Schoenberg, with whom he studied between 1906 and 1910. He was one of Schoenberg’s principal assistants in organizing the Society for Private Musical Performances...

 and Hans Keller
Hans Keller
Hans Keller was an influential Austrian-born British musician and writer who made significant contributions to musicology and music criticism, as well as being an insightful commentator on such disparate fields as psychoanalysis and football...

 on the advice of Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He showed talent from an early age, and first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to...

. Early musical influences included Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

, Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

, Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

 and Britten
Benjamin Britten
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He showed talent from an early age, and first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to...

. While undertaking postgraduate study at Glasgow University, Harvey was a cellist
The cello is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments, which also includes the violin, viola, and double bass. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque era are baryton and viol .A person who plays a cello is...

 in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Around this time, he became interested in the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Another critic calls him "one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music"...

. In 1969 he took up a Harkness Fellowship
Harkness Fellowship
The Harkness Fellowships are a programme run by the Commonwealth Fund of New York City. They were established to reciprocate the Rhodes Scholarships and enable Fellows from several countries to spend time studying in the United States...

 at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, where he encountered Milton Babbitt
Milton Babbitt
Milton Byron Babbitt was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He is particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.-Biography:...

, another strong influence on his music. In the 1980s Harvey produced much music at IRCAM
IRCAM is a European institute for science about music and sound and avant garde electro-acoustical art music. It is situated next to, and is organizationally linked with, the Centre Pompidou in Paris...

 after receiving an invitation from Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez is a French composer of contemporary classical music, a pianist, and a conductor.-Early years:Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music and mathematics...

 to work there.

IRCAM is a European institute for science about music and sound and avant garde electro-acoustical art music. It is situated next to, and is organizationally linked with, the Centre Pompidou in Paris...

, Harvey produced works such as Speakings, a composition for large orchestra and electronics. The concept of the piece was to "make an orchestra speak." IRCAM is known for speech analysis and in this piece, special technology was developed to allow the analysis of speech to be realized in an orchestral context, using complex algorithms which can process multiple combinations possible in an orchestra setting. The program Orchidée
Orchidée (software)
Orchidée is software developed by IRCAM as a computer-aided orchestration tool. It is a MATLAB-based application that communicates with traditional computer-aided composition environments through Open Sound Control messages. This means that it can be effectively controlled from programs like...

 computed such analyses and provided possible orchestrations for the composer.

Harvey is a Visiting Professor of Music at University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

, Imperial College London
Imperial College London
Imperial College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, specialising in science, engineering, business and medicine...

, and an Honorary Professor at Sussex University.

From 2005 to 2008, Jonathan Harvey held the post of Composer in Association with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is a broadcasting symphony orchestra based in Glasgow, Scotland. One of five full-time orchestras maintained by the British Broadcasting Corporation , it is the oldest full-time professional orchestra in Scotland...


In 2009 he was Composer in Residence at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
The Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is held in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England. It has a repertoire of cutting-edge jazz, orchestral, choral and electroacoustic performances, along with film, dance and music theatre...



  • 1975. The Music of Stockhausen: An Introduction. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0520023110.
  • 1976. "Inner Light (3)". The Musical Times 117, no. 1596 (February): 125–27.
  • 1981. Ferneyhough. London: Edition Peters.
  • 1983. "New Directions: A Manifesto". Soundings: A Music Journal 11 (Winter): 2–13.
  • 1999a. Music and Inspiration, edited by Michael Downes. London and New York: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571200257.
  • 1999b. In Quest of Spirit: Thoughts on Music. The Bloch Lectures. With compact disc sound recording. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0520213920. French edition, as Pensées sur la musique: la quête de l'esprit, translated by Mireille Tansman Zanuttini in collaboration with and with an introduction by Danielle Cohen-Levinas. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2007. ISBN 2296037534. Spanish edition, as Música e inspiración, translated by Carme Castells. Barcelona: Global Rhythm Press, 2008; ISBN: 9788496879317 8496879313
  • 2007, with Jean-Claude Carrière. Circles of Silence. The Cahiers Series no. 3. [Paris]: Center for Writers & Translators, the Arts Arena, AUP; Lewes [England]: Sylph Editions. ISBN 0955296331.

Selected works

  • Dialogue and Song for cello (1965/1977)
  • Four Images after Yeats for piano (1969)
  • Piano Trio (1971)
  • String Quartet No. 1 (1977)
  • O Jesu Nomen Dulce for choir (1979)
  • Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, computer-manipulated concrete sounds (pre-recorded quadraphonic tape), for tape (1980)
  • Mythic Figures (1980)
  • Bhakti for 15 players and quadrophonic tape (1982)
  • Curve with Plateaux for solo cello (1982)
  • Flight-Elegy for violin and piano (1983–89)
  • Nataraja for flute, piccolo and piano (1983)
  • Nachtlied for soprano, piano and tape (1984)
  • Come Holy Ghost for choir (1984)
  • Ricercare una Melodia for solo trumpet/cello/flute/oboe/trombone with tape delay system (1984)
  • Song Offerings for soprano and chamber ensemble of 8 players (1985)
  • Forms of Emptiness for choir (1986)
  • God is our Refuge for choir and organ (1986)
  • Madonna of Winter and Spring for orchestra, synthesizer and electronics (1986)
  • Lauds for choir and solo cello (1987)
  • From Silence for soprano, 6 players and tape (1988)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1988)
  • Three Sketches for solo cello (1989)
  • Ritual Melodies for quadrophonic tape (1989–90)
  • Cello Concerto (1990)
  • Fantasia for organ (1991)
  • Serenade in Homage to Mozart for wind ensemble of 10 players (1991)
  • Scena for violin and chamber ensemble of 9 players (1992)
  • Lotuses for flute quartet (1992)
  • Chant for solo cello (or solo viola) (1992–94)
  • The Riot for flute, piccolo, bass clarinet and piano (1993)
  • One Evening... for soprano, mezzo, soprano, chamber ensemble of 8 players, 2 technicians and electronics (1993–94)
  • The Angels for choir (1994)
  • Tombeau de Messiaen for piano and tape (1994)
  • Advaya for cello, electronic keyboard and electronics (1994)
  • Dum Transisset Sabbatum for choir (1995)
  • String Quartet No. 3 (1995)
  • Percussion Concerto (1997)
  • Sufi Dance for solo guitar (1997)
  • Wheel of Emptiness for chamber ensemble of 16 players (1997)
  • Ashes Dance Back for choir and electronics (1997)
  • Death of Light/Light of Death for chamber ensemble of 5 players after Grunewald's Crucifixion in the Isenheim Altarpiece
    Isenheim Altarpiece
    The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece painted by the German artist Matthias Grünewald in 1506-1515. It is on display at the Unterlinden Museum at Colmar, Alsace, now in France....

  • Tranquil Abiding for chamber orchestra (1998)
  • Valley of Aosta for 13 players and electronics (1998)
  • Marahi for unaccompanied choir (1999)
  • The Summer Cloud's Awakening for choir, flute, cello and electronics (2001)
  • Vers for piano (2000)
  • Jubilus for viola and chamber ensemble (2003)
  • String Quartet No. 4 with live electronics (2003)
  • String Trio (2004)
  • Body Mandala for orchestra (2006)
  • Other Presences for trumpet and electronics (2008)
  • Imaginings for cello and live electronics
  • Philia's Dream for cello and synthesizer
  • Weltethos for speaker, choir, children's chorus and orchestra (2011)

Further reading

  • Alcorn, P.M. (1992). "Perspectives of Electroacoustic Music: A Critical Study of the Electroacoustic Music of Jonathan Harvey, Denis Smalley and Trevor Wishart". Ph.D. diss. Durham: University of Durham.
  • Beaumont, Adrian (1998). "Expectation and Interpretation in the Reception of New Music: A Case Study". In Composition—Performance—Reception: Studies in the Creative Process, edited by Wyndham Thomas, 93–104. Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 1-85928-325-X.
  • Bossis, Bruno (2004). "Mortuos plango, vivos voco de Jonathan Harvey ou le miroir de la spiritualité". Musurgia: Analyse et pratique musicales 11, nos. 1–2 (Images de la Voix): 119–44.
  • Bowling, Irene Ruth (1989). "British Piano Music Since 1945: A Selected Survey". DMA diss. Seattle: University of Washington.
  • Brech, Martha (1993). Analyse elektroakustischer Musik mit Hilfe von Sonagrammen. Europäische Hochschulschriften XXXVI: Musikwissenschaft, Nr. 118. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. ISBN 3-631-47427-X.
  • Brech, Martha (1999). "Im Spannungsfeld zwischen Archaik und Moderne: Riten im Electronic Listening und der Elektroakustischen Musik". In Musik und Ritual: Fünf Kongreßbeiträge, zwei freie Beiträge und ein Seminarbericht, edited by Barbara Barthelmes and Helga de La Motte-Haber, 89–109. Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Neue Musik und Musikerziehung Darmstadt, no. 39. Mainz: Schott. ISBN 3-7857-1779-5.
  • Brown, David (1968). "Jonathan Harvey". The Musical Times 109, no. 1507 (September) 808–10.
  • Denut, Éric (2002). "Chemins de traverse entre l'un et le multiple: Une introduction à l'œuvre de Jonathan Harvey". Musica falsa: Musique, art, philosophie, no. 16 (Fall): 36–39.
  • Donin, Nicolas (2006). "Spatialization as a Compositional Tool and Individual Access to Music in the Future". Circuit: Musiques contemporaines 16, no. 3: 75–81.
  • Foreman, Ronald Lewis Edmund (ed.) (1975). British Music Now: A Guide to the Work of Younger Composers. London: Elek.
  • Fuchs, Jörn Florian (2007). "Buddhistische Träume aus Licht und Elektronik: Jonathan Harveys Wagner Dream am Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg uraugeführt (6. Juni 2007)". Wagnerspectrum 3, no. 2:185–86.
  • Γεωργάκη, Αναστασία [Geōrgakī, Anastasia] (2004). "Η μεταφυσική διάσταση της συνθετικής τραγουδιστής φωνής στο έργο Mortuos Plango-Vivos Voco (J. Harvey, 1980)" [The Metaphysical Dimension of the Synthetic Singing Voice in the Work Mortuos plango, vivos voco (J. Harvey, 1980)]. Polyfōnia, no. 4 (Spring): 57–92.
  • Griffiths, Paul
    Paul Griffiths (writer)
    Paul Griffiths is a British music critic, novelist and librettist. He is particularly noted for his writings on modern classical music and for having written the libretti for two 20th century operas, Tan Dun's Marco Polo and Elliott Carter's What Next?.-Biography and career:Paul Griffiths was...

     (1984). "Three Works by Jonathan Harvey: The Electronic Mirror". Contemporary Music Review 1, no. 1 (Musical Thought at IRCAM) 87–109.
  • Griffiths, Paul (1985). New Sounds, New Personalities: British Composers of the 1980s in Conversation with Paul Griffiths. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0571100619.
  • Groot, Rokus de (2002). "De klank van het oosten: Transformaties in de westerse klassieke muziek onder invloed van concepten over het oosten—Klank en spiritualiteit". Krisis: Tijdschrift voor empirische filosofie 3, no. 4:96–105.
  • Halász, Péter (1994). "Beszélgetés Jonathan Harvey angol zeneszerzővel" [Interview with the nglish Composer Jonathan Harvey]. Muzsika 37, no. 9 (September): 33–36.
  • Jenkins, Matthew (2006). "A Search for Emptiness: An Interview with Jonathan Harvey". Perspectives of New Music 44, no. 2 (Summer): 220–31.
  • Johnson, Julian M. (2003a). Precarious Rapture: The Recent Music of Jonathan Harvey. In Aspects of British Music of the 1990s, edited by Peter O'Hagan, 63–84. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-3041-2.
  • Johnson, Julian M. (2003b). "A [sic] Interview with Jonathan Harvey". In Aspects of British Music of the 1990s, edited by Peter O'Hagan, 119–29. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-3041-2.
  • Joos, Maxime (2002). "'La cloche et la vague': Introduction à la musique spectrale—Tristan Murail et Jonathan Harvey". Musica falsa: Musique, art, philosophie, no. 16 (Fall): 30–31.
  • Josipovici, Gabriel (1989). "Music and Literary Form". Contemporary Music Review 5 (Music and Text): 65–75.
  • Palmer, John (1998a). "Jonathan Harvey's Inquest of Love: The Redemptive Spirit of Art". 20th-Century Music 5, no. 5 (May): 8–11.
  • Palmer, John (1998b). "A Conversation with Jonathan Harvey". 20th-Century Music 5, no. 8 (August): 1–8.
  • Palmer, John (1998c). "An Introduction to Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti". 20th-Century Music 5, no. 11 (November): 6–15.
  • Palmer, John (1998d). "Structural Strategies and Pitch Gestalt in Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti". 20th-Century Music 5, no. 12 (December): 4–24.
  • Palmer, John (2001). Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti for Chamber Ensemble and Electronics: Serialism, Electronics, and Spirituality. Studies in the History and Interpretation of Music 77. Lewiston, N.Y. : Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0773474366.
  • Samson, Jim (1981). "Nowe tendencje w angielskiej muzyce orkiestrowej" [New Trends in British Orchestral Music]. Muzyka: Kwartalnik poświęcony historii i teorii muzyki 26, no. 2:3–21.
  • Smalley, Denis (1993). "Defining Transformations". Interface: Journal of New Music Research 22, no. 4 (November): 279–300.
  • Smith, Pamela (1989). "Towards the Spiritual: The Electroacoustic Music of Jonathan Harvey". Contact, no. 34 (Fall): 11–16.
  • Solōmos, Makīs (1998). "L'identité du son: Notes croisées sur Jonathan Harvey et Gérard Grisey". Résonance: Semestriel d'information musicale, no. 13 (March): 12–15.
  • Sykes, Claire (2003). "Spiritual Spectralism: The Music of Jonathan Harvey". Musicworks: Explorations in Sound, no. 87 (Fall): 30–37.
  • Thompson, Daniel N. (1999). "Beyond Duality: Stasis, Silence, and Vertical Listening". Current Musicology, nos. 67–68 (Fall–Winter): 487–517.
  • Vandenheede, Jan (1992). "Jonathan Harvey's Ritual Melodies". Interface: Journal of New Music Research 21, no. 2) 149–83.
  • Whittall, Arnold (1999). Jonathan Harvey. London: Faber. ISBN 0571195814. French edition, as Jonathan Harvey, translated by Peter Szendy, and Éric De Visscher. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2000. ISBN 2-7384-8860-9.
  • Whittall, Arnold (2001). "Harvey, Jonathan (Dean)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie
    Stanley Sadie
    Stanley Sadie CBE was a leading British musicologist, music critic, and editor. He was editor of the sixth edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , which was published as the first edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.Sadie was educated at St Paul's School,...

     and John Tyrrell
    John Tyrrell (professor of music)
    John Tyrrell was born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in 1942. He studied at the universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Brno. In 2000 he was appointed Research Professor at Cardiff University....

    . London: Macmillan Publishers.
  • Winter, John (1985). "Jonathan Harvey's Church Music". Composer, no. 84 (Spring): 16–21.

External links

  • Jonathan Harvey website
  • Jonathan Harvey Interview by Daniel Jaffé. Originally published in Classic CD, July 1999: republished www.compositiontoday.com
  • Vanessa Thorpe: Composer Jonathan Harvey calls for amplified classical music to attract young audiences The Observer
    The Observer
    The Observer is a British newspaper, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its daily sister paper The Guardian, which acquired it in 1993, it takes a liberal or social democratic line on most issues. It is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.-Origins:The first issue,...

     5 September 2010
  • Chance Music with Jonathan Harvey Interview by Bob Shingleton. Future Radio, 5 September 2010
  • Composing Oneself University of St Andrews
    University of St Andrews
    The University of St Andrews, informally referred to as "St Andrews", is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world after Oxford and Cambridge. The university is situated in the town of St Andrews, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It was founded between...

     600th Anniversary Composition Competition 14 October 2010