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Robert Saxton

[Photo: Katie Vandyck]
Photo: Katie Vandyck

Robert Saxton was born in London in 1953. He began composing aged 6 and, after early advice from Benjamin Britten, he studied with Elisabeth Lutyens (1970-74), at Cambridge (1972-75) where he received composition tuition from Robin Holloway and as a postgraduate at Oxford with Robert Sherlaw Johnson (1975-76), where he had composition lessons with Luciano Berio. In 1975, he was awarded 1st Prize at the Gaudeamus International Composition Competition in Holland. He was the recipient of the Fulbright Arts Award 1985-86 to the USA, where he was a visiting fellow at Princeton and assistant to Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood Summer Music School, during which time he also taught alongside Leonard Bernstein. He was assistant to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies at Dartington Summer School (1983-84) and on Hoy in the 1990s. During the 1980s and 1990s, Robert Saxton also undertook outreach education work both with Glyndebourne Opera and Opera North in the UK, and in Norway and Japan with the London Sinfonietta. Following a post as a lecturer at Bristol University, Robert Saxton was Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (1991-98), Head of Composition and Contemporary Music at the Royal Academy of Music (1998-99) and, since 1999, has been at Oxford University, where he is Professor of Composition and Tutorial Fellow in Music at Worcester College. Having been a member of the Arts Council Music Panel, he was from 1997-2007 a Board member of London's Southbank Centre. From 1992-98 Robert Saxton was Artistic Director of Opera Lab and from 2011-12 was Composition Mentor for Sounds New, a joint Anglo-French/EU project. From Autumn 2013, Robert Saxton will be Composer-in-Association at the Purcell School.

Selected commissions include works for the BBC (TV, Radio 3 and the Proms), ECO, LPO, LSO, London Sinfonietta, Nash Ensemble, Northern Sinfonia, St Paul Chamber Orchestra USA, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Chilingirian String Quartet, The Clerks, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, City of London, Huddersfield and Lichfield festivals, and for Richard Rodney Bennett and Susan Bradsahw, Teresa Cahill, Simon Desbruslais, Leon Fleisher, Clare Hammond, Steven Isserlis, Mstislav Rostropovich, John Wallace and Raphael Wallfisch. His music is published by Chester/Music Sales, Ricordi and UYMP and recorded on the EMI, Sony Classical, Hyperion, NMC and Signum labels.

Robert Saxton's Quartet No. 3 was commissioned by the Southbank Centre, London and premiered by the Arditti Quartet in May 2011. His radio opera, The Wandering Jew, was recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Performance on 3 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers and released on NMC in June 2011. A major study of his 1991 opera Caritas by Wyndham Thomas was published by Ashgate Press in 2012. Commissions for 2013 include Time and the Seasons, a song cycle for Roderick Williams and Andrew West at the Oxford Lieder Festival; Shakespeare Scenes, a Trumpet Concerto for Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan; and Hortus Musicae, a piano cycle for pianist Clare Hammond at the City of London Festival.

He is married to the soprano, Teresa Cahill.

Robert Saxton is published by Chester Music, UYMP and Ricordi.

'Drawing on a wide range of influences from his Jewish roots to the relationship between mathematical and music principles... his considerable technique and imagination make for writing of compelling melody (though not always in the conventional sense) and of richly organic background texture.' ...

The Observer