Born in Warwickshire in 1939, Jonathan Harvey was a chorister at St Michael's College, Tenbury and later a major music scholar at St John's College, Cambridge. He gained doctorates from the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and also studied privately (on the advice of Benjamin Britten) with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller. He was a Harkness Fellow at Princeton (1969-70).
An invitation from Boulez to work at IRCAM in the early 1980s has resulted in eight realisations at the Institute, or for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, including the tape piece Mortuos Plango Vivos Voco, Ritual Melodies for computer-manipulated sounds, and Advaya for cello and live and pre-recorded sounds. Harvey has also composed for most other genres: orchestra (including Madonna of Winter and Spring, Tranquil Abiding and White as Jasmine), chamber (including three String Quartets, Soleil Noir/Chitra, and Death of Light, Light of Death, for instance) as well as works for solo instruments. He has produced a large output of choral works, including the large cantata with electronics Mothers shall not Cry (2000). His church opera Passion and Resurrection (l981) was the subject of a BBC television film, and has received twelve subsequent performances. His opera Inquest of Love, commissioned by ENO, was premiered there in 1993 and repeated at Theatre de la Monnaie, Brussels in 1994.
Harvey now attracts commissions from many international organisations. His music has been extensively played and toured by, amongst others, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and Ictus Ensemble of Brussels. About 50 recordings are available on CD. He is regularly performed and featured at all the major international contemporary music festivals, and is one of the most skilled and imaginative composers working in electronic music. He has honorary doctorates from the universities of Southampton and Bristol, is a Member of Academia Europaea, and in 1993 was awarded the prestigious Britten Award for composition. He published two books in 1999, on inspiration and spirituality respectively. Arnold Whittall’s study of his music appeared, published by Faber & Faber (and in French by IRCAM) in the same year. Two years later John Palmer published a substantial study: 'Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti' (Edwin Mellen Press). He was Visiting Professor of Music at Imperial College, London and is Honorary Professor at Sussex University. From 2005 he is Composer-in-Residence at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
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