Anthony Payne

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Anthony Payne
Anthony Edward Payne

(1936-08-02)2 August 1936
London, UK
Died30 April 2021(2021-04-30) (aged 84)
  • Composer
  • Music critic
  • Writer
Known for Symphony No. 3 (Elgar/Payne)
Chamber music
Notable work
List of compositions
Spouse(s) Jane Manning
AwardsElgar Medal

Anthony Edward Payne (2 August 1936 – 30 April 2021) was an English composer, music critic and writer. [1] He is best known for his 1997 completion of Edward Elgar's third symphony, titled Edward Elgar: The Sketches for Symphony No. 3 elaborated by Anthony Payne ; the work has subsequently gained wide acceptance into Elgar's oeuvre. His own works include representatives of most traditional genres—apart from opera—but he is particularly noted for his chamber music. Many of these chamber works were written for his wife, the soprano Jane Manning, and the new music ensemble Jane's Minstrels, which he founded with Manning in 1988. Initially an unrelenting proponent of avant-garde modernism, by the 1980s his compositions had embraced aspects of the late romanticism of England, which Susan Bradshaw described as "modernized nostalgia". His mature style is thus characterized by a highly individualized combination of an English-Romantic sentiment with modernism, as well as numerology, wide spaced harmonies and strict rhythms. [2]


Born in London, Payne did not come from a particularly musical background but studied music at Dulwich College and Durham University. Though he had begun composing as a child, his professional career began around 1965, with pieces such as the Phoenix Mass (1965) and Paraphrases and Cadenzas (1969)—both of which he would later revise. These works were firmly rooted in the modernist style, but by the 1980s, he began to embrace the English tradition, exemplified in A Day in the Life of a Mayfly (1981). His first full orchestral work followed in this vein, The Spirit’s Harvest (1985), and he later created a completed version of Elgar's third symphony, which brought him international attention and future commissions of a similar nature. Among these were other completions of works by Elgar as well as orchestrations of Elgar, Finzi and Delius works. [2] Later major works include four commissions for the BBC Proms, Time’s Arrow (1990), Visions and Journeys (2002), The Period of Cosmographie (2010) and Of Land, Sea and Sky (2016). [3] He died in April 2021, a month after the death of his wife.

Payne held academic posts at various institutions throughout his career, including the London College of Music, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Western Australia. [2] A renowned critic, [1] he wrote for The Daily Telegraph , The Independent and Country Life . Other writings include publications on a variety of musical topics, notably Schoenberg (1968)—a study on the composer Arnold Schoenberg—and numerous works on the music of Frank Bridge, to whom he was particularly devoted.

Life and career

Early life

Anthony Edward Payne was born in London on 2 August 1936 to Edward and Muriel (née Stroud) Payne; [4] his father was a civil servant. [5] He did not come from a particularly musical background, [6] though at the age of 10 went to see relatives in Godalming, and first experienced classical music by hearing a recording of Brahms's Symphony No. 1. [1] Payne himself recalled the significance of the moment, saying he was "was absolutely translated" and that he was "hooked like a fish". [1] [5] A recording he was given the next year of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 solidified his interest; he began composing at around age 11. [6] His initial compositional influences were the late romantics, Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams. [1]

He first studied music at Dulwich College under Stanley Wilson. After a brief stint in the Royal Corps of Signals (1958–1961) he continued studying music at Music at St Cuthbert's Society, Durham University. [6] At this time, working with Peter Evans assisted the growth of his musical maturity. [6] He then spent a period as a freelance musicologist. [2]

Emerging composer

Since the mid-1960s when he composed his Phoenix Mass, he has received commissions for new works from several important ensembles, including the English Chamber Orchestra and the Nash Ensemble. [1] Three major orchestral works: The Spirit's Harvest (1985), Time's Arrow (1990), Visions and Journeys (2002) and Of Land, Sea and Sky (2016) were all premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at The Proms in London. He has also composed a Concerto for Orchestra (1974) and other orchestral pieces, as well as chamber, instrumental and choral works. His String Quartet No. 2 (2010) won the Chamber category of the 2011 British Composer Awards. [7]

In 1988 he co-founded the "questing young ensemble" [8] Jane's Minstrels with his wife, the soprano Jane Manning. [1] Amongst his ensemble pieces, A Day in the Life of a Mayfly and Symphonies of Wind and Rain (composed for and recorded by Jane's Minstrels) are considered particularly effective. Although Payne's realisations of several works by Elgar have brought him considerable notice and acclaim, he has also composed a Frederick Delius paraphrase entitled Spring's Shining Wake (1981) and has transcribed songs by Peter Warlock for Jane's Minstrels. [4]

Completion of Elgar's Third Symphony

Payne's realisation of the sketches for Edward Elgar's Third Symphony took several years to complete. When Elgar died in 1934, he left more than 130 pages of incomplete score for a third symphony. Although initially reluctant to allow anyone to use this material (Elgar himself had expressed a wish that no-one should "tinker" with the sketches), the Elgar family realised that in 2005 the sketches would come out of copyright. They therefore approved Payne's elaboration of the sketches, on which he had been working and lecturing intermittently since 1993, and he subsequently completed the piece. [1] Payne's version of the symphony was first performed in 1998 to immediate acclaim, and has received numerous subsequent performances and several recordings. [2] [4]

Further commissions

Payne subsequently also composed a version of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 6 from Elgar's incomplete sketches for the work, which received its first performance under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis at a Prom concert on 2 August 2006 – Payne's 70th birthday. During a radio interview on the BBC's Today on 28 April 2006, when he was asked about the March, Payne said that he had composed about 43% of the music and carried out all of the orchestration, amounting to well over half the piece. In the same interview he said that to carry out his completions he felt that he had to try to "become" Elgar, in much the same way that an actor would assume a stage role. [4]

Payne was awarded an Elgar Medal by the Elgar Society, and held honorary doctorates from the universities of Birmingham, Durham and Kingston. [2] He was a fellow of the Royal College of Music, where he was arts research fellow for two years. [1]


Payne died on 30 April 2021. [5] He was 84, and died a month after the death of his wife, which reportedly affected his health. [1] His collegue and fellow composer Colin Matthews noted that "They were inseparable in life, and I suppose it's not a surprise that he would follow her so soon after". [1] Payne and Manning had no children, [4] but were survived by a nephew and two nieces. [5]


Alongside his career as a composer, Payne simultaneously built up a reputation as a writer on music, both as an author of books about Arnold Schoenberg and Frank Bridge [1] and as a music critic for The Daily Telegraph , The Independent and Country Life . [2] He was a visiting lecturer at a number of universities in Britain, Australia and the U.S.. [4] [2]

Personal life

Payne was married, in 1966, to the soprano Jane Manning for whom he composed a number of vocal works including the song-cycle Evening Land. In 2007, the couple were jointly awarded honorary doctorates by Durham University. [4]

List of compositions

List of compositions by Anthony Payne [2]
Suite from a Forgotten Ballet1955
rev. 1985
rev. 1979
solo string quartet; string orchestra
Concerto for Orchestra1974Orchestral
Song of the Clouds1979–80Orchestral
solo oboe, 2 horns, perc, string orchestra
Spring’s Shining Wake1980–81Orchestral
Songs and Seascapes1984Orchestral
string orchestra
The Spirit’s Harvest1985Orchestral
Half-Heard in the Stillness1987Orchestral
Time’s Arrow1989–90Orchestral
Symphonies of Wind and Rain1991Orchestral
Hidden Music1992Orchestral
Orchestral Variations: The Seeds Long Hidden1992–4Orchestral
Visions and Journeys2001–2Orchestral
Bright Cecilia, Variations on a Theme of Purcell [lower-alpha 1]
with Lindberg, C. Matthews, Ruders, Sawer, Torke and Weir
Windows on Eternity2006–7Orchestral
The Period of Cosmographie2009Orchestral
Fire on Whaleness1975–6Brass
Brass band, perc
Fanfares and Processional1986Brass
hn, 4 tpt, 4 trbn, tuba
Echoes of Courtly Love1987Brass
hn, tpt, flugel hn, trbn, tuba
4 hn, 4 tpt, 4 trbn, tuba, perc
Paraphrases and Cadenzas1969
rev. 1978
cl, va, pf
Sonatas and Ricercars1970–71Chamber
fl, ob, cl, bn, hn
String Quartet1978Chamber
String quartet
Footfalls Echo in the Memory1978Chamber
vn, pf
The Stones and Lonely Places Sing1978–9Chamber
fl + pic, cl + b cl, hn, pf, vn, va, vc
A Day in the Life of a Mayfly1981Chamber
fl + pic, cl, perc, pf, vn, vc
The Song Streams in the Firmament1986Chamber
cl, 2 vn, va, vc, db
Consort Music1987–8Chamber
2 vn, 2 va, vc
A 1940s Childhood1986–7Chamber
fl, gui
fl, hp
fl, cl, hp, 2 vn, va, vc
The Enchantress Plays1990Chamber
bn, pf
Empty Landscape – Heart’s Ease1994–5Chamber
ob, cl, hn, vn, va, vc
Engines and Islands1996Chamber
fl, cl, perc, pf, vn, va, vc
Piano Trio1988Chamber
Piano trio
Of Knots and Skeins2000Chamber
vn, pf
Horn Trio2005–6Chamber
Horn trio
Piano Quintet2007Chamber
Piano quintet
Out of the Depths Comes Song2008Chamber
vc, pf
From a Mouthful of Air2009Chamber
tpt, hp, vn, va, vc
Instrumental solos
Miniature Variations on a Theme of E.L.1980Solo
Reflections in the Sea of Glass1983Solo
Amid the Winds of Evening1987Solo
Hommage to Debussy1998Solo
Storm Chorale2003Solo
Choral and vocal
Phoenix Mass1965
rev. 1972
Choral and vocal
SATB, 3 trumpet, 3 trombone
Two Songs without Words1970Choral and vocal
5 male voices
A Little Passiontide Cant
(Text from 14th-century England)
rev. 1984
Choral and vocal
First Sight of Her and After
(Text by Thomas Hardy)
1975Choral and vocal
16 solo voices
1988Choral and vocal
SATB, ob, cl, bn, hn, perc, vn, va, vc, db
The World’s Winter
(Text by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
1976Choral and vocal
Soprano, flute + piccolo, oboe, clarinet
The Sea of Glass
(Text from the Book of Revelations)
1977Choral and vocal
SATB, organ
A Little Ascension Cant
(Text attributed to Cynewulf)
rev. 1984
Choral and vocal
A Little Whitsuntide Cant
(Text by Emily Brontë)
rev. 1984
Choral and vocal
Evening Land
(Text by Pär Lagerkvist)
1980–81Choral and vocal
Soprano, piano
A Little Christmas Cant
(Text from traditional carol texts)
1983Choral and vocal
Alleluias and Hockets
(after Machaut)
1987Choral and vocal
SATB, 2 ob, eng hn, 2 bn, 2 tpt, 3 trbn
(Text by Edward Thomas)
1989Choral and vocal
Soprano, piano
Break, break, break
(Text by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
1996Choral and vocal
From the Woodlanders
(Text by Thomas Hardy)
1999Choral and vocal
Soprano, 2 clarinets, violin, cello
Betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross
(Text by Francis Thompson)
2001Choral and vocal
Poems of Edward Thomas
(Text by Edward Thomas)
2002–3Choral and vocal
Soprano, piano, violin, vila, cello
Ghost Train
(Text by Payne, after Pär Lagerkvist)
2008Choral and vocal
Baritone, pf
The Headland
(Ursula Vaughan Williams)
2008Choral and vocal
Mezzo soprano, piano


Recordings of compositions by Anthony Payne
1996Time’s ArrowTime’s Arrow BBC Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Davis
NMC D037S [9]
1998A Day in the Life of a MayflySymphonies of Wind and Rain Jane's Minstrels
Jane Manning, Roger Montgomery
NMC D056 [10]
The Songs and Streams in the Firmament
Evening Land
Paraphrases and Cadenzas
A Day in the Life of a Mayfly
2007The Stones and Lonely Places SingEmpty Landscape – Heart’s Ease Jane's Minstrels,
Jane Manning, Roger Montgomery,
Fenella Barton, Dominic Saunders
NMC D130 [11]
Scenes from The Woodlanders
Of Knots and Skeins
Poems of Edward Thomas: Words
Poems of Edward Thomas: Lights Out
Poems of Edward Thomas: Adlestrop
The Stones & Lonely Places Sing
1996ChromaSea-ChangeChromaRiverrun Records RVRCD56 [12]

Selected bibliography




  1. The work set to variations was Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia
  2. Grove notes that Payne, Hindmarsh & Foreman 2001 has been superseded by Huss, Fabian (2001). "Bridge, Frank" . Grove Music Online . Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.90000361257.

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Further reading