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(1939 - 2015)

A prolific composer from childhood, John McCabe studied in Manchester and Munich, and embarked on an international career as composer and pianist. He worked in almost every genre, though large-scale forms lie at the heart of his catalogue. Apart from full-length ballets such as Edward II and the two-part Arthur, his seven symphonies, at least twenty concertante works, and music such as Notturni ed Alba (for soprano and orchestra) and The Chagall Windows for orchestra place him at the centre of the repertoire. Cloudcatcher Fells has become a classic of the brass band repertoire. His output of chamber music, including seven string quartets and numerous quintets and trios, was equally outstanding, and he made a major contribution to the fields of piano and vocal music, including a wide range of choral work. Artists who have performed McCabe’s music include the BBC Singers, Barry Douglas, James Galway, the King’s Singers, Truls Mørk, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York, the William Ferris Chorale of Chicago, Stile Antico and the conductors Barbirolli, Boult, Elder, Groves, Haitink, Hickox, Petrenko, Previn and Solti. McCabe’s mature style was characterised by dramatic post-tonalism, and vivid orchestration, combined with both accessibility and integrity. In his distinguished career as a concert pianist, he performed and recorded widely, including the landmark set of complete Haydn Piano Sonatas on Decca and many British works, and he was noted for his generosity to his fellow composers. He was appointed CBE for his services to British music. A book, Landscapes of the Mind: The Music of John McCabe, was published in 2008 by Ashgate Publishing (Guildhall Studies series). McCabe became president of the British Music Society following the death of Sir Lennox Berkeley in 1989, and remained in that position until 2014. The music of John McCabe is published exclusively by Novello & Co. Limited.

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