Alexander Goehr

Biography

Born: August 10, 1932; Berlin, Germany  
One of the leading British composers of the mid-to-late twentieth century, and the son of famous conductor and composer Walter Goehr, Alexander Goehr was born in Germany in 1932. The Goehr family relocated to Britain in 1933, and by 1952 Alexander was studying with Richard Hall at the Royal Manchester College, where he founded the Manchester New Music Group with fellow students Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, and John Ogdon. After Read more leaving the College in 1955, Goehr attended Messiaen's composition classes in Paris for one year, returning to Britain in 1957 to work as a music copyist and translator. An eight year appointment to the music staff of the BBC (1960-68) was followed by a long and distinguished line of teaching positions: composer-in-residence New England Conservatory of Music 1968-69, associate professor of music Yale University 1969-70, visiting lecturer Southampton University 1970-71, professor Leeds University 1971-76, professor Cambridge University 1976 on, and visiting professor Beijing Conservatory of Music in 1980. In addition to these academic positions, Goehr has served as the director of the Leeds Festival and in 1989 was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Goehr's music has been described as radical-conservative in its synthesis of tonal, serial, and modal elements. His earlier works take the serial techniques inherited from his father--himself a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg--as their basic structural method; by the time of the 1954 Fantasia for Orchestra Op.4 Goehr had begun to assimilate the disjunct textures of Webern and Boulez, and to experiment with casting serial groups into shapes modeled on the medieval/Renaissance cantus firmus. Thrust into the limelight after a 1959 performance of his chamber/vocal work The Deluge, Goehr fulfilled a number of large commissions during the next few years, but poor performances and a growing stylistic unease led to a personal re-evaluation of his musical idiom during the 1960s. In the Little Symphony Op.15, composed in memory of his recently deceased father, the elements Goehr's mature compositional language are found.

Goehr's large-scale pieces, among which the most important are perhaps the Piano Concerto of 1972 and the Symphony in One Movement from 1970, often employ rather traditional rhetorical structures, which draw from a wide range of models including Mozart and Monteverdi, a composer whose revival in the mid-twentieth century was due in part to the activity of Goehr's father. An interest in Japanese Noh drama has been an influence on a number of occasions, the most obvious example being the Nonomiya for solo piano, written for Goehr's old schoolmate and friend, John Ogdon. The string quartets present the composer's more intimate side. Quartet No.2 Op.23, from 1967 is a particular achievement, with its opening variations movement and a scherzo based on isorhythm-a technique drawn from medieval motets. Read less
Wavesongs - Matthews, Finnissy, Goehr, Et Al / Baillie, Ball
Release Date: 11/01/1998   Label: Nmc  
Catalog: 19   Number of Discs: 1
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Goehr: Arianna / William Lacey, Arianna Ensemble
Release Date: 09/15/2000   Label: Nmc  
Catalog: 54   Number of Discs: 2
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Goehr: Piano Concerto, Symphony / Serkin, Knussen, Bernas
Release Date: 09/15/2000   Label: Nmc  
Catalog: 23   Number of Discs: 1
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Goehr: Romanza, Sinfonia, Etc /Knussen, Atherton, Welsh, Etc
Release Date: 01/27/2004   Label: Nmc  
Catalog: 95   Number of Discs: 2
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Goehr: Sing, Ariel, Etc / Knussen, Cleobury, Shelton, Et Al
Release Date: 02/24/2004   Label: Nmc  
Catalog: 96   Number of Discs: 2
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Browse 1-19 of 19 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    New Music Collections: Choral
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 204 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Julian Anderson,  Giles Swayne,  Robert Saxton,  Michael Finnissy  ... 
    Performer:  Howard Skempton,  Michael Finnissy
    Conductor:  Simon Halsey,  John Poole,  James Weeks,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ex Cathedra (Early Music Ens.),  Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
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  • 2.
    Alexander Goehr: Since Brass Nor Stone
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 187 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Colin Currie,  Ursula Leveaux,  Marianne Thorsen,  David Alberman  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pavel Haas Quartet,  Nash Ensemble
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  • 3.
    Choirbook For The Queen
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 1178396 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Bedford,  Judith Bingham,  Diana Burrell,  Michael Finnissy  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Disley,  Micaela Haslam,  Jacqueline Fox,  Jennifer Adams-Barbaro  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
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  • 4.
    Goehr: Marching To Carcassonne; When Adam Fell; Pastorals  / Knussen, Serkin
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8573052 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Peter Serkin
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Sinfonietta
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  • 5.
    Alexander Goehr: Colossos Or Panic
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 165 Release Date: 05/29/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Claire Booth,  Hilary Summers
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  ASKO Ensemble
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  • 6.
    Music  For Solo Clarinet  / Eduard Brunner
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572470 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jörg Widmann,  Toshio Hosokawa,  Luciano Berio,  Aribert Reimann  ... 
    Performer:  Eduard Brunner
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  • 7.
    Goehr: Little Symphony, String Quartet No 2, Piano Trio
    Label: Lyrita   Catalog: 264 Release Date: 09/09/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Conductor:  Norman Del Mar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Allegri String Quartet,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orion Trio
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  • 8.
    On Christmas Day / Cleobury, King's College Choir
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 58070 Release Date: 10/04/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Robert Chilcott,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Judith Bingham,  Arvo Pärt  ... 
    Performer:  Dan Hyde,  Tom Winpenney,  Ashley Grote,  Fergus Thirlwell  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
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  • 9.
    British Cello Sonatas / Paul & Huw Watkins
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 5699 Release Date: 08/03/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  Benjamin Britten,  Alexander Goehr,  Huw Watkins
    Performer:  Huw Watkins,  Paul Watkins
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  • 10.
    Label: London Sinfonietta   Catalog: 12004 Release Date: 03/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Andriessen,  Charles Wuorinen,  Alexander Goehr,  Detlev Glanert  ... 
    Performer:  Bruce Nockles,  Nicolas Hodges,  Rolf Hind,  Paul Silverthorne  ... 
    Conductor:  George Benjamin
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  • 11.
    Goehr: Sing, Ariel, Etc / Knussen, Cleobury, Shelton, Et Al
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 96 Release Date: 02/24/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Lucy Shelton,  Sarah Leonard,  Eileen Hulse,  Michael Chance  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen,  Stephen Cleobury
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge University Music Society
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  • 12.
    Goehr: Romanza, Sinfonia, Etc /Knussen, Atherton, Welsh, Etc
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 95 Release Date: 01/27/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Jeanine Thames,  Moray Welsh
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen,  David Atherton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Alexander Goehr: Quintet
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 8804 Release Date: 01/01/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr,  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Gayle Blankenburg,  Jan Karlin,  Gary Ginstling,  Agnes Gottschewski  ... 
    Conductor:  Stephen Mosko
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  • 14.
    Themes & Variations / Jac Van Steen, Bbc Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 62 Release Date: 06/26/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Malcolm Arnold,  David Bedford,  Colin Matthews  ... 
    Conductor:  Jac Van Steen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Southwest Chamber Music Composer Portrait Series
    Label: Cambria   Catalog: 8800 Release Date: 10/24/2000   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Richard Derby,  Morton Subotnick,  Frederick Lesemann,  Robert Linn  ... 
    Performer:  Jeff von der Schmidt,  Maggie Edmondson,  Jan Karlin,  Christine Frank  ... 
    Conductor:  Jeff von der Schmidt,  Stephen L. Mosko,  John Bergamo
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest Chamber Music Society,  CalArts Gamelan Ensemble
    CD: $134.49
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  • 16.
    Goehr: Arianna / William Lacey, Arianna Ensemble
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 54 Release Date: 09/15/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Angela Hickey,  Juliet Schiemann,  Lawrence Zazzo,  Timothy Dawkins  ... 
    Conductor:  William Lacey
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arianna Ensemble
    On sale! $34.99
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  • 17.
    Goehr: Piano Concerto, Symphony / Serkin, Knussen, Bernas
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 23 Release Date: 09/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Goehr
    Performer:  Peter Serkin
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen,  Richard Bernas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Wavesongs - Matthews, Finnissy, Goehr, Et Al / Baillie, Ball
    Label: Nmc   Catalog: 19 Release Date: 11/01/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gordon Crosse,  Roger Smalley,  Mark-Anthony Turnage,  Alexander Goehr  ... 
    Performer:  Alexander Baillie,  Andrew Ball
    On sale! $18.99
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  • 19.
    ...In Real Time - Berio, Goehr, Henze, Et Al / Peter Serkin
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 68189 Release Date: 08/30/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Peter Lieberson,  Toru Takemitsu,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Serkin
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