Apologies, ticket and merchandise purchase is currently unavailable as we're experiencing a technical issue.

Accessibility links

|

Sign In
Basket
Basket

Harrison Birtwistle

Composer

Biography

English composer Harrison Birtwistle is a leading figure of contemporary music. His operas Gawain (1991) and The Minotaur (2008) were commissioned by The Royal Opera and had their world premieres on the Royal Opera House main stage. In the 2014/15 Season The Royal Opera celebrates Birtwistle's 80th birthday with a double programme of The Cure (a Royal Opera co-commission with Aldeburgh Music and London Sinfonietta) and The Corridor in the Linbury Studio Theatre.

Birtwistle was born in Accrington and studied clarinet and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music, where his contemporaries included Peter Maxwell Davies and Alexander Goehr. In 1965 he devoted himself to composition and studied at Princeton as a Harkness Fellow. There he completed the opera Punch and Judy, which along with the works Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time first established Birtwistle as a key voice in British music. His diverse portfolio includes the operas The Mask of Orpheus, The Second Mrs Kong, The Io Passion and The Last Supper, the concertos Endless Parade (trumpet), Antiphonies (piano) and Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, chamber works Secret Theatre, Silbury Air, Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum, Pulse Shadows and The Moth Requiem, and, for orchestra, Earth Dances, Exody and The Shadow of Night.

Birtwistle's awards include the Chévalier des Arts et des Letters (1986), a British knighthood (1988) and a British Companion of Honour (2001). He was Henry Purcell Professor of Music 1995–2001 and was Director of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music.

Videos

News and features

Happy birthday Harrison Birtwistle!

Happy birthday Harrison Birtwistle!

14 July 2014

The composer, who celebrates his 80th birthday on 15 July, has a long relationship with The Royal Opera.

Discover Harrison Birtwistle's soundworld

Discover Harrison Birtwistle's soundworld

12 August 2013

Following Birtwistle's the UK premiere of Moth Requiem at the BBC Proms, a look at how the composer creates his signature sounds.

Librettist David Harsent on writing for opera

Librettist David Harsent on writing for opera

17 September 2012

Find out more about the creative process behind The Minotaur and In the Locked Room.

The Minotaur: A thrilling sonic labyrinth

The Minotaur: A thrilling sonic labyrinth

21 August 2012

Harrison Birtwistle's operatic take on the Ancient Greek myth returns to The Royal Opera.

Photos