Robert Saxton explores the relationship between new ideas and compositional techniques from the past 800 years in Western music

Robert was born in London in 1953. Guidance from Benjamin Britten and Elisabeth Lutyens was followed by study at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. He won the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in Holland at the age of 21 and was a Fulbright Arts Fellow at Princeton University, USA, in 1986.

Robert’s current research involves a large-scale organ cycle for Dr Jonathan Clinch at the Academy, using Hauptwerk technology to access various cathedral and church organs in the UK and Europe. The cycle is ongoing and will consist of 12 pieces addressing aspects of nature, worship and the seasons in terms of expressivity, technicality, form and structure. The relative lengths of daylight and darkness as experienced in the two annual solstices inform the cycle.

Robert is Emeritus Professor of Composition at Oxford University and Composer-in-Association at the Purcell School, and was Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Head of Composition and Contemporary Music at the Academy the 1990s. His music is published by Chester/Wise Music, University of York Music Press and Ricordi, and recorded on Sony Classical, Hyperion, EMI, NMC, Divine Art Records/Métier and Signum Records. Robert has been commissioned by the BBC (TV, Proms and Radio), LSO, LPO, London Sinfonietta, Arditti and Chilingirian Quartets, and written for the Huddersfield, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and Three Choirs Festivals. He has worked closely with performers including Teresa Cahill, Tasmin Little, Steven Isserlis, Mstislav Rostropovich, and John Wallace.

Recent works include the opera The Wandering Jew commissioned by the BBC; a song cycle for baritone Roderick Williams; Hortus Musicae for pianist Clare Hammond; The Resurrection of the Soldiers commissioned by the 2016 Presteigne Festival, the English Symphony Orchestra and Kenneth Woods; Shakespeare Scenes commissioned by the Orchestra of the Swan and trumpeter Simon Desbruslais; A Hymn to the Thames for oboist James Turnbull and St Paul’s Sinfonia; Fantasy Pieces for the Fidelio Trio; and Scenes from the Epic of Gilgamesh, premiered by ESO at Music at Oxford in March 2023 and recorded for Nimbus Records.