Jonathan Harvey 1939-2012

By | Published on Thursday 6 December 2012

Jonathan Harvey

Classical composer Jonathan Harvey died on Wednesday evening, aged 73, his publisher Faber Music announced yesterday. Harvey had been suffering with motor neurone disease for some time.

Born in Sutton Coldfield in 1939, Harvey was heavily involved in music academia, earning doctorates from both Glasgow and Cambridge universities, and later acting as a Professor of Music at Sussex University and Stanford University in the US, as well as having roles at other institutions in the UK, US and Germany.

His career as a composer really began to take off in the early 1980s with a series of pieces created at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique in Paris, combining classical instruments and electronic sounds. Though, as well as this more avant garde work, he composed in a broad range of other classical genres too, creating pieces for solo instruments and unaccompanied choirs and operas, in addition to full orchestral works.

A multi-award winner, Harvey’s work remains in heavy demand for performances worldwide, with over 150 taking place each year. Over 100 performances of his work have also been released as recordings.

Announcing Harvey’s death, Vice Chairman of Faber Music, Sally Cavender said: “I have worked closely with Jonathan for 30 years. His impact as a composer has been profound and international in its scope. The spirituality of his music also pervaded his personality; no one who met him came away without commenting on his gentleness, generosity and breadth of imagination … Music simply poured out of him, naturally and organically. In every sense he was a superior human being and one that it has been a privilege to know, as much as it has been a delight to treasure his music”.

Controller of BBC Radio 3 and director of the BBC Proms, Roger Wright, added: “We have lost a hugely important figure in classical music. His was a powerfully original music which rightly received international acclaim. His gentle spirit and inner strength impressed me greatly and he will be much missed”.

Despite suffering a serious terminal illness, Harvey completed three final works in the last year of his life. He is survived by his wife Rosaleen, and their two children, Anna and Dominic.