Born in Warwickshire in 1939, Jonathan Harvey was a chorister at St Michael's College, Tenbury and later a major music scholar at St John's College, Cambridge. He gained doctorates from the Universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and, on the advice of Benjamin Britten, also studied privately with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller. He was a Harkness Fellow at Princeton (1969-70).
An invitation from Boulez to work at IRCAM in the early 1980s has so far resulted in seven realisations at the Institute, including Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco - the celebrated tape piece - Bhakti, for ensemble and electronics, and Advaya for cello, live electronics and pre-recorded sounds. Harvey has composed for most other genres: orchestra - Tranquil Abiding, White as Jasmine and Madonna of Winter and Spring; chamber - including four string quartets, and Death of Light, Light of Death. He has written many widely-performed works for choir, as well as the large-scale cantata for the BBC Proms Millennium, Mothers shall not Cry (2000). His stage works include the church opera Passion and Resurrection (1981); Inquest of Love (1993), commissioned by ENO; and Wagner Dream (2007), commissioned by Nederlandse Oper in association with the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, the Holland Festival and IRCAM.
Harvey's music is played and toured by major ensembles - including Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain and ASKO. His music has been showcased at Strasbourg Musica, Ars Musica Brussels, Musica Nova Helsinki, the Acanthes and Agora festivals, and other centres for contemporary music; some 150-200 performances are given or broadcast each year and about 80 recordings of his music are available on CD - including Bhakti, NMC's inaugural release (NMC D001).
Harvey was Professor of Music at Sussex University between 1977 and 1993, and is currently an Honorary Professor there. He was Professor of Music at Stanford University (US) (1995-2000), Visiting Professor of Music at Imperial College, London and is an Honorary Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. From 2005-07 he has been Composer-in-Association with the BBC Scottish SO. He has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Southampton, Sussex, Bristol and Huddersfield, is a Member of Academia Europaea, and in 1993 was awarded the prestigious Britten Award for composition.