Colin Matthews was born in London in 1946. He studied with Arnold Whittall and Nicholas Maw; in the 1970s he was assistant to Benjamin Britten, and worked for many years with Imogen Holst. His collaboration with Deryck Cooke on the performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony lasted from 1963 until its publication in 1975.
Over four decades his music has ranged from solo piano music through five string quartets and many ensemble and orchestral works. From 1992-9 he was Associate Composer with the LSO, writing amongst other works a Cello Concerto for Rostropovich. In 1997 his choral/orchestral Renewal, commissioned for the 50th anniversary of BBC Radio 3, was given a Royal Philharmonic Society Award.
Orchestral works since 2000 include Reflected Images for the San Francisco SO, Berceuse for Dresden for the New York Philharmonic, Turning Point for the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Traces Remain for the BBC SO.
Matthews was Composer-in-Association with the Hallé - for whom he completed his orchestrations of Debussy’s 24 Preludes in 2007 - from 2001-10. He is now the orchestra’s Composer Emeritus.
His violin concerto for Leila Josefowicz and the CBSO was premiered in 2009. In 2011 he completed works for the London Sinfonietta, City of London Sinfonia and Leipzig Gewandhaus. He wrote his 4th String Quartet, for the Elias Quartet, in 2012, and his 5th, for the Tanglewood Music Center, in 2015; Spiralling was written for Spira Mirabilis in 2014; The Pied Piper, a collaboration with Michael Morpurgo, was performed by the LPO in 2015.
Matthews is Founder and Executive Producer of NMC Recordings, Executive Administrator of the Holst Foundation and Music Director of the Britten-Pears Foundation. He has been co-director with Oliver Knussen of the Aldeburgh Composition Course since 1992, and composition director of the LSO’s Panufnik Scheme since 2005. He holds honorary posts with several universities and is Prince Consort Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music.