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Faculty of Music

Professor Richard  Causton


Professor in Composition
Takes PhD students


Richard Causton is Professor in Composition. He studied at the University of York, the Royal College of Music and the Scuola Civica in Milan, where his teachers included Franco Donatoni.

He first came to prominence with the première by the London Sinfonietta of The Persistence of Memory (1995), whose delicate sound-world is coloured by the combined sonorities of a prepared piano, harp, vibraphone and a microtonally tuned set of bells that Causton built especially for the piece. In the wake of this came commissions from the Nash Ensemble (NotturnoRituals of Hunting and Blooding) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Millennium Scenes). This latter work has an avowedly political dimension which is apparent not least in the music’s use of instruments commonly associated with street demonstrations, such as car horns and whistles. Millennium Scenes also gives its title to NMC's recent portrait disc of Causton's work (NMC D192), which was listed as 'Outstanding' in International Record Review and was No.1 in the Sunday Times' 100 Best Records of the Year 2014(Contemporary Composers section).

A second orchestral piece, Between Two Waves of the Sea (commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2004) uses effects of spatialisation and distancing through the interplay of live with pre-recorded orchestral music which are often in unrelated tempi. Causton returned to the combination of live with pre-recorded sound in his Chamber Symphony (2009, rev. 2010) for the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. This work draws poetic inspiration from the work of William Blake, whose epic Jerusalem, Emanation of the Giant Albion also provided the starting point for Causton’s orchestral work Twenty-Seven Heavens (commissioned by the European Union Youth Orchestra as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad).

Recent works include De Profundis for solo cello and The Flight, a choral work commissioned by King's College in 2015 for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. Causton is currently working on a large-scale orchestral work for the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to composition, Causton writes and lectures on Italian contemporary music and regularly broadcasts for Italian radio (RAI Radio 3).

Richard Causton’s music is published by Oxford University Press.