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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » N » Nyman, Michael

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Michael Nyman (b3/23/1944)

Michael Nyman was born in England in 1944, and followed a normal musical background, through music college and was set to become a pianist and composer. At the age of twenty he found that he could not accept the principals of all that he had been taught, and quite simply ‘opted-out’. He turned to work as a music critic, working for the Spectator, and started a project to edit the music of Purcell and Handel.

His entry back into music composition came in 1969 when Harrison Birtwistle asked him to write the libretto for a new work he was commissioned to write. Soon after Birtwistle, who was Musical Director of the National Theatre, asked him to make arrangements of 18th century music for a play being staged at the theatre. It was performed by a mixture of period and modern instruments, and Nyman was so pleased with the result that he kept the group together when the play closed. It was the beginning of the Michael Nyman Band, a group that was to take ‘classical’ music down a new path.

Nyman is the person we have to thank for the word, ‘minimalism’, a term he had used in one of his concert reviews, and it was in this musical style that he now started writing music for his ‘band’. The commercial aspects of his new style of composition soon found him in demand both in the concert hall, cinema and television, his music entering the ‘pop’ charts as often as the classical ratings. He was now working in so many different fields, as diverse as string quartets and concertos.



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