Alexander Goehr, composer and teacher, was born in Berlin in 1932, son of the conductor Walter Goehr, and was brought to England in 1933. He studied in Manchester at the Royal Manchester College of Music with Richard Hall – where together with Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and John Ogdon he formed the New Music Manchester Group – and in Paris with Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod.

Goehr worked for the BBC in the early ’60s during which time he formed the Music Theatre Ensemble, the first devoted to what has become an established musical form. He has taught at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Yale University and the University of Leeds, and in 1975 was appointed to the chair of music of the University of Cambridge where he remains Emeritus Professor.

Goehr has written a substantial body of works including five operas. His orchestral works include concerti for piano, violin, viola and cello for soloists including Peter Serkin, Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim. Through chamber music, Goehr gains an unprecedented rhythmic and harmonic immediacy, while his music remains ever permeable by the music and imagery of other times and places.


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Photo: Maurice Foxall