Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize - Composers Web Project


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pic to come of the most successful British electroacoustic composers Neue Krone Zeitung,  Vienna
...extremely creative composer,  with an impressive musical imagination, elegance of sound  and wit, too.  Bieler  Tagblatt,  Berne
Palmer's   works  step through the hyper-regions  of a spiritual meta-world: his subtle evocations reflect an individual perspective which keeps the music terse,  compelling and strongly  original. Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich



Biographical Notes

John Palmer was born in 1959 and took his first piano lessons at the age of six. He is a British composer with a strongly international background: brought up in Wales, Italy, Switzerland, Russia and the UK he worked mainly on mainland Europe until 1990 when he returned to London. In the mid-seventies he began to compose and perform as a pianist and keyboard player and directed several groups of experimental music and jazz. Since the mid-eighties he has focused on instrumental, orchestral, vocal and chamber music, and in the early nineties he extended his compositional interests with electroacoustic resources.   There have been many concerts and broadcasts of John Palmer's work worldwide and he has achieved a truly international cultural identity.

John Palmer graduated in Piano Studies from the Conservatory of Music in Lucerne, Switzerland, having undertaken Composition  and Experimental Improvisation with Vinko Globokar.   In 1989 he followed a Master course in Composition with Edison Denisov at the International MusikFestWoche Lucerne.   From 1987 to 1989 he was Director of the Society of New Music Lucerne which involved the management, promotion and production of contemporary music.

   He undertook postgraduate studies in Composition at Trinity College of Music, London, where he gained his Fellowship Diploma in Composition.  Further studies include composition with Vinko Globokar at Dartington International Summer School, England, and conducting with Alan Hazeldine at the Guildhall School of Music, London.


In 1994 he completed a Ph D Doctoral Research in Composition at City University, London.  He also studied privately with Jonathan Harvey and was a friend of John Cage, whose sense of acoustic adventure is much alive in his music.

One of the main preoccupations of John Palmer's music is the  subtlety of timbral transformations. His compositional techniques  vary from work to work from the application of vigorous and precise methodologies to the most spontaneous unfolding of musical ideas based on pure intuition.

From 1991 to 1995 he was a lecturer in music at Oxford University, and since September 1995 he is a Lecturer in Composition and Electronic Music  and Director of Research  at the University of Hertfordshire, England.  In 1994 he was also a visiting lecturer and music director at the Conservatory of Lucerne, Switzerland, and in 1995 a guest lecturer and pianist at the University of Southampton, England.

As a promoter of contemporary music John Palmer has given several concerts and  lectures in Europe and North America.  In January 1994  he   directed the Electroacoustic Festival of British Contemporary Music in Lucerne and in May 1996 two-days concert series in Vienna.

At present he is  working on further commissions, performances, lectures and broadcasts in Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria,  Germany and Russia.
Selected Works


Selected Works


    string orchestra (Duration: 7')
  • CONCERTINO  (1992-1994)
    2 2 2 2 / 2 2 0 0 / 1 percussion / strings (Duration: 9')
    1st prize winner in the 1995 Surrey Sinfonietta Orchestral Composition Contest
  • NEW WORK   (1997)
    Symphony orchestra (Duration: 7')
    Orchestral with voices
  • PRELUDE  (1989)
    8 soprani, 8 mezzosoprani 3 1 2 0 / 4 1 0 0 / harp, piano / strings (Duration: 8)'
  • OMEN  (1992)
    2 soprani, 2 alti, 2 tenori, 2 bassi (amplified) 3 2 2 2 and tenor saxophone / 1 1 1 0 / 1 percussion, celesta, harp / strings (Duration: 9')
    First prize winner of the 1992 City of Lucerne Cultural Prize for Music
  • HE  (1992)
    SATB choir version 1: for 8 singers version 2: for choir (Duration: 6')
    Chamber Ensemble
  • SCHERZO  (1985)
    flute, oboe, bassoon, double bass (Duration: 8')
  • TWO IN ONE  (1987)
    oboe, trumpet (Duration: 8')
  • TRIO FOR BILL EVANS   (1987)
    flute, cello, piano (
  • TIME'S  PASSAGES   (1988)
    flute, oboe, clarinet, cello, double bass, piano (Duration: 20)'
  • HOMMAGE A DEBUSSY   (1989)
    flute, clarinet, harp (Duration: 4')
    flute, piano, prepared piano
  • FLUTE QUARTET  (1991)
    4 flutes (Duration: 6')
  • INTERCHANGES  (1993)
    clarinet and piano (Duration: 10')
  • REFLECTIONS   (1993)
    trumpet, piano, tape, live electronics (Duration: 15')
    Commissioned by Simon Lenton
  • THEOREM   (1995)
    violin, cello, piano (Duration: 9')
    Commissioned by the Bath Festival Second prize winner of the 1996  Tokyo International Competition for Chamber Music Composition
  • LEGEND   (1995)
    flute, clarinet in Bb, trumpet, horn, tenor trombone, percussions (1), harp, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello (Duration: aprx. 12')
    Commissioned by the Croydon Contemporary Music Festival
  • STRING QUARTET I   (1996)
    amplified string quartet (Duration: 11')
    Second prize winner of the 1996 City of Klagenfurt International Composition Prize, Austria   
    Chamber Ensemble with voice(s)
  • UTOPIA   (1990)
    flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, mezzosoprano (Duration: 18')
    Commissioned by the Ensemble Tetraphonia, Basle, Switzerland
  • SUN AND EARTH   (1990)
    flute, clarinet, harp, soprano (Duration: 13') Commissioned by the Luzerner Forum fuer Neue Musik, Switzerland
  • CONCERTO  IN  TWO  PARTS    (1991)
    soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists (amplified) flute, 2 oboes, bassoon, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, 2 harps, percussion, violin, 2 viole, cello, double bass. (Duration: 23')
  • THE WORLD   (1991)
    2 soprani, 2 percussions (Duration: 8')
  • ETERNITY   (1992)
    alto flute, violin, double bass, piano, soprano, tenor, bass, 1 percussion, live- electronics (Duration: 8')
  • YOU   (1992-94)
    3 soprani, 2 violins, viola, cello, alto flute, soprano saxophone, trombone, harp, celesta, harpsichord, piano, 1 percussion (Duration: 12')
    mezzosoprano, piano (Duration: 8') Commissioned by Ruth Maienfish
    Instrumental - Piano:
    (Duration: 9')
  • MAZURKA  (1986)
    Duration: 5'
    (Duration: 8')
    16 pieces of an improvisational nature (in revision with electronics) (Duration: ad lib.)
  • DEJA-VU  (1990)
    (Duration: 5')
  • MANHATTAN   (1990)
    (Duration: 5')
    (Duration: 1')
    4-Hands Piano:
  • DOUBLE GAMES  (1989)
    a collection of pieces of didactic nature (Duration: 15')
  • SPIRITS   (1990)
    synthesizer  (Yamaha SY 77 or SY 99) (Duration: 15')
  • PHONAI    (1992-97)
    synthesizer  (Yamaha SY 77 or SY 99) and tape, (may be diffused as a tape piece) (Duration: 11')
  • ETERNITY  (1992)
    alto flute, violin, double bass, piano, soprano, tenor, bass, 1 percussion, live- electronics (Duration: 8')
  • REFLECTIONS    (1993)
    trumpet, piano, tape, live-electronics (Duration: 15')
    Commissioned by Simon Lenton
  • BEYOND THE BRIDGE   (1993-94)
    cello, 2 tapes, live-electronics (Duration: 12' 50")
    Commissioned by Zoe Martlew Second prize winner of the 1994 Bourges International Electroacoustic Competition, France
  • RENGE-KYO    (1993-94)
    piano, tape, live-electronics (Duration: 11'30")
  • VISION  (1994-1996)
    harpsichord, tape, live-electronics (Duration: 11')
    Commissioned by the Bruder Klaus Museum, Sachseln, Switzerland
  • W.A. MOZART -  Piano Concerto in  c minor  K.V. 491,  1st Movement  (1990)
  • Works in preparation
      cello, tape, live electronics Commissioned by Neil Heyde
    Commissioned by Gerald Preinfalk and Mixed Art Saxophone Quartet, Vienna
    Commissioned by the Hatfield Philarmonic Orchestra


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