is being upgraded. Visit our new video service.

Harrison Birtwistle

English Born 15 Jul 1934
Sir Harrison Paul Birtwistle is one of Britain's most significant contemporary composers.

Birtwistle was born in Accrington in Lancashire and in 1952 entered the Royal Manchester College of Music in Manchester on a clarinet scholarship. While there he met fellow composers Peter Maxwell Davies and Alexander Goehr, who, together with pianist John Ogdon and conductor Elgar Howarth, formed the New Music Manchester group, dedicated to the performances of serial and other modern works.

Birtwistle left the college in 1955 then studied at the Royal Academy of Music and afterwards made a living as a schoolteacher. In 1965 a Harkness Fellowship gave him the opportunity to continue his studies in the United States and he decided to dedicate himself to composition.

In 1975 Birtwistle became musical director of the newly-established Royal National Theatre in London, a post he held until 1983. He has been honoured with a knighthood (1988) and as a Companion of Honour (2001). From 1994 to 2001 he was Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King's College London.

Show more