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Composer: McCabe, John (1939-2015)

Fact file
Year of birth1939
Year of death2015
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Period20th century
July 2019
Evening performance
Matinee performance
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CanterburyMusic for a Summer's Evening

Vaughan Williams, Stanford, Britten, McDowall, McCabe
Edward-Rhys Harry; City of Canterbury Chamber Choir; Edward Kemp-Luck
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Łukaszewski Première at the Prestiegne

The Presteigne Festival went Polish this year with an enterprising perspective of contemporary and post-war works including the world première of Paveł Łukaszewski’s newly commissioned Requiem
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Joyful Company of Singers at Presteigne Festival

Peter Broadbent and the Joyful Company of Singers return to the Presteigne festival for an enterprising programme of unfamiliar 20th-century choral repertoire.
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BBC Philharmonic and John Storgårds: McCabe, Birtwistle and Holst

Infectious fun from the BBC Philharmonic, as Mancunian trained composers McCabe and Birtwistle received a warm welcome at Bridgewater Hall, and Holst's ever popular Planets triumphed. 
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Prom 17: The apotheosis of the dance with the BBC Philharmonic and Antonio Márquez Company

In a week of intense and lengthy performances of Der Ring des Nibelungen, this Prom provided an antidote in the form of classical music inspired by or written for dance – after a purely instrumental first half, the second half of the concert brought dancers to the stage in a riveting, edge-of-seat intense combination of colour, rhythm and sound.
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Stile Antico sing music for Easter in Leeds

Entitled “Passion and Resurrection”, this exquisite concert from Stile Antico unfolded as an exploration of music written in response to Holy Week.One of the group’s most striking characteristics is their decision to work without a conductor, a move which can at times produce chamber music of the highest quality.
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John McCabe's career as composer and pianist has established him as one of the leading British musicians. His recording on Decca/London of the complete Piano Sonatas of Haydn (12 CDs) was greeted by Gramophone Magazine as ‘one of the great recorded monuments of the keyboard repertoire’, likening it to Schnabel's Beethoven Sonatas. He has frequently performed in the USA and Australia, as well as 18 other countries, and during his career, given over 1200 performances of British works - his 50-plus solo piano recordings range from Clementi and Mozart to Webern, Copland, Carter, Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis (Hyperion), Rawsthorne's Piano Quintet (Naxos), and William Schuman’s Concerto (Albany). John McCabe’s most recent CD recordings include Joubert’s three Piano Sonatas (Somm), Alan Rawsthorne’s complete solo piano music (Dutton Epoch), and his own Piano Concerto No 1 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Christopher Austin (Dutton Epoch), which was awarded Best New Piano Music Recording of 2007 by International Piano Magazine. He has given the country premières of Messiaen's Sept Haï-kai (Australia) and concertos by Delius (Denmark) and John Corigliano (England). He was presented with the 2003 Incorporated Society of Musicians’ Distinguished Musician Award.

Among McCabe’s most successful works are the ballet Edward II, created by David Bintley (Stuttgart Ballet 1995, Birmingham Royal Ballet 1997), many orchestral works including Concerto for Orchestra (Solti/London Philharmonic Orchestra 1983), seven symphonies, and a wide range of keyboard, chamber and vocal music. Recent works have included Symphony on a Pavane (London Philharmonic Orchestra), Symphony Labyrinth (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), Horn Concerto Rainforest IV (David Pyatt and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Tadaaki Otaka) and a Cello Concerto Songline for Truls Mørk, Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra. Cartography, to a special text by Jo Shapcott, was written for The King’s Singers, and The Maunsell Forts was commissioned as the test piece for the 2002 British Open Brass Band Championships. The success of Edward II led to performances at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, New York and the Hong Kong Festival, and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s commission for two full-evening ballets on Arthurian themes - the first, subtitled Arthur Pendragon, was premièred in Birmingham in January 2000, and the second, Morte d'Arthur, at Sadler's Wells Theatre in May 2001. Both ballets were revived by the Company in the Spring of 2003.

John McCabe’s 70th birthday in 2009 is being celebrated by special concerts all over Britain and abroad, including residencies at Manchester University, the Three Choirs Festival Hereford and the Presteigne Festival, performances at the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, and broadcasts and CD releases. Landscapes of the Mind: The Music of John McCabe, edited by George Odam, was published in 2007 by Ashgate Publishing, as No 6 in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Research Studies Series.

John McCabe has written monographs on Rachmaninov, Bartók, and the Haydn Piano Sonatas. His book Alan Rawsthorne: Portrait of a Composer was published by Oxford University Press in 1999. He is a Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music. He has held Visiting Professorships at the Universities of Cincinnati and Melbourne, was Guest Composer at the 2007 National Arts Centre’s Young Composers Course in Ottawa, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by Liverpool University in 2006. John McCabe was appointed CBE in 1985 for his services to British music.

Website: www.johnmccabe.com

List of works