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Alexander 'Sandy' Goehr

  • About
  • Alexander ('Sandy') Goehr is a British composer and Emeritus Professor of Music at Cambridge University. He was born into a Jewish musical family in Berlin in 1932. His father, Walter Goehr, was a composer and conductor, and a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg. His mother, Laelia, trained as a pianist at the Kyiv Conservatory.

    Goehr moved to England in 1933 when his father accepted a position as conductor there in the wake of Hitler coming to power. He was educated in Britain and spent the war in Buckinghamshire. At the Royal College of Music in Manchester, where he attended Richard Hall’s classes, he formed the "Manchester School," a group of young composers and musicians—including Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, and pianist John Ogdon—who specialized in the performance of new music.

    He was introduced to Olivier Messiaen's music when his father conducted the first British performance of Turangalîla in 1953. He subsequently went to study with Messiaen in Paris, and attended the Darmstadt Festival courses where he met and made friends with many composers, including Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono.

    He came to prominence in England in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a radical exponent of serial music. Since then, he has composed more than one hundred major works, including operas, orchestral and chamber pieces, and music for film, television, dance, and theatre.

    Goehr is one of Europe's most important music educators. He was a lecturer at Southampton University, Professor of Music at Leeds University and finally the Professor of Music at Cambridge University for more than twenty-five years. He has taught many successful composers, theorists, and musicologists. Over the course of his life he has written and lectured extensively, and his works are performed all over the world. His music is published by Schott.
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