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Musical World

Michael Nyman

  • Composer


Michael Nyman: The year 2009 will see the production of a new opera, his music being used in a production by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, a new work commissioned in honour of Ennio Morricone's 80th birthday and the first-ever exhibition of his photographs and video-works

Never one to sit around in an ivory tower, his diary bulges with a full international touring schedule with the Michael Nyman Band as well as a series of unique one-off performances with such diverse collaborators as the singer David MacAlmont, a Polish accordion trio and the innovative sound artist Carsten Nicolai.

Nyman first made his mark on the musical world in the late 1960s, when he invented the term 'minimalism' and, still in his mid-twenties, earned one of his earliest commissions, to write the libretto for Birtwistle's 1969 opera Down By The Greenwood Side.

In 1976 he formed his own ensemble, the Campiello Band (now the Michael Nyman Band) and over three decades and more, the group has been the laboratory for much of his inventive and experimental compositional work.

For more than 30 years, he had also enjoyed a highly successful career as a film composer, the role in which - sometimes to his slightly rueful regret - he is probably best known by the general public.

His most notable scores number a dozen Peter Greenaway films, including such classics as The Draughtsman's Contract and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover; Neil Jordan's The End Of The Affair; several Michael Winterbottom features including Wonderland and A Cock And Bull Story; the Hollywood blockbuster Gattaca - and, of course, his unforgettable music for Jane Campion's 1993 film, The Piano, the soundtrack album of which has sold more than three million copies. He also co-wrote the score for the 1999 film Ravenous with his friend and sometime protégé, Damon Albarn. Most recently his music was used in the 2009 BAFTA award winning and Oscar nominated film, Man on Wire.

His reputation among highbrow critics is built upon an enviable body of work written for a wide variety of ensembles, including not only his own band, but also symphony orchestra, choir and string quartet. He has also written widely for the stage. His operas include The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat (1986) and Facing Goya (2000) and he has provided ballet music for a number of the world's most distinguished choreographers.

In 2008, he published the sumptuous photo-book Sublime. His first gallery exhibition, Videofile, in which his photos are presented alongside a series of short films, runs at the De la Warr Pavillion until March 2009.

Other projects in a year of diverse and prolific activity include:-

◦His first gallery exhibition, Videofile, in which his photos are presented alongside a series of short films, runs at the De la Warr Pavilion until March 15th
◦Michael Nyman band playing his soundtrack to the 1929 film, Man With A Movie Camera at the De La war Pavilion March 07
◦a revival by the Royal Ballet of his DGV: Danse à grande vitesse, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and which opened at Covent Garden in January
◦a collaborative score for solo piano with Kutlug Ataman at Whitechapel Gallery in February 26
◦a spectacular performance-event of his composition Sparkie the Opera with Carsten Nicolai in Berlin on March 26
◦a new collaborative version of his work MGV, featuring the Nyman Band and Poland’s Motion Trio, at the Barbican to close Kinoteka on April 8
◦a photography exhibition at Sketch opens April 26
◦Primavera Festival in Barcelona May 29
◦Sydney Opera House with the Michael Nyman Band July 26
◦Stradbally Picnic Festival, Ireland September 05
◦Bestival, Isle of Wight September 13
◦Union Chapel, London October 24