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Michael Laurence Nyman, CBE (born 23 March 1944) is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist and musicologist, known for numerous film scores (many written during his lengthy collaboration with the filmmaker Peter Greenaway), and his multi-platinum soundtrack album to Jane Campion's The Piano . He has written a number of operas, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat ; Letters, Riddles and Writs ; Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs ; Facing Goya ; Man and Boy: Dada ; Love Counts ; and Sparkie: Cage and Beyond. He has written six concerti, five string quartets, and many other chamber works, many for his Michael Nyman Band. He is also a performing pianist. Nyman prefers to write opera rather than other forms of music.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.
A libretto is the text used in, or intended for, an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata or musical. The term libretto is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as the Mass, requiem and sacred cantata, or the story line of a ballet.
A soundtrack, also written sound track, can be recorded music accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, book, television program, or video game; a commercially released soundtrack album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film, video, or television presentation; or the physical area of a film that contains the synchronized recorded sound.
Nyman was born in Stratford, London to a family of Polish secular Jewish furriers.
Stratford is a district in the East End of London, in the London Borough of Newham, England. It is 6 miles (10 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross and is in East London. Stratford is part of the Lower Lea Valley and includes the localities of Maryland, East Village, Mill Meads, Stratford City and Forest Gate. Historically part of the ancient parish and subsequent County Borough of West Ham, which became the western half of the modern borough within a Greater London in 1965. Historically an agrarian settlement in the county of Essex, Stratford was transformed into an industrial suburb after the introduction of the railway in 1839.
Nyman was educated at the Sir George Monoux Grammar School, Walthamstow. He studied at King's College London and was accepted at the Royal Academy of Music in September 1961, studying with Alan Bush and Thurston Dart,focusing on piano and seventeenth-century baroque music. He won the Howard Carr Memorial Prize for composition in July 1964. In 1965–66 Nyman secured a residency in Romania, to study folk-song, supported by a British Council bursary.
Sir George Monoux College is a sixth form college located in Walthamstow, East London.
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a founding college and member institution of the federal University of London. King's was established in 1829 by King George IV and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, when it received its first royal charter, and claims to be the fourth oldest university institution in England. In 1836, King's became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London. In the late 20th century, King's grew through a series of mergers, including with Queen Elizabeth College and Chelsea College of Science and Technology, the Institute of Psychiatry, the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals and the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery.
The Royal Academy of Music in London, England, is the oldest conservatoire in the UK, founded in 1822 by John Fane and Nicolas-Charles Bochsa. It received its Royal Charter in 1830 from King George IV with the support of the first Duke of Wellington. It is one of the leading conservatoires in the UK, rated fourth in the Complete University Guide and third in the Guardian University Guide for 2018. Famous Academy alumni include Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Elton John and Annie Lennox.
Nyman says he discovered his aesthetic playing the aria, "Madamina, il catalogo è questo" from Mozart's Don Giovanni on his piano in the style of Jerry Lee Lewis, which "dictated the dynamic, articulation and texture of everything I've subsequently done."It subsequently became the base for his 1977 piece In Re Don Giovanni.
In music, an aria is a self-contained piece for one voice, with or without instrumental or orchestral accompaniment, normally part of a larger work.
"Madamina, il catalogo è questo" is a bass catalogue aria from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni to an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, and is one of Mozart's most famous and popular arias.
Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the National Theater, now called the Estates Theatre, on 29 October 1787. Da Ponte's libretto was billed as a dramma giocoso, a common designation of its time that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.
In 1969, Nyman provided the libretto of Harrison Birtwistle's opera Down by the Greenwood Side and directed the short film Love Love Love (based on, and identical in length to, the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" [ citation needed ]) before settling into music criticism, where he is generally acknowledged to have been the first to apply the term "minimalism" to music (in a 1968 article in The Spectator magazine about the English composer Cornelius Cardew). He wrote introductions for George Frideric Handel's Concerti Grossi, Op. 6 and interviewed George Brecht in 1976.
Sir Harrison Paul Birtwistle, is a British composer.
Down by the Greenwood Side is a "dramatic pastoral" composed by Harrison Birtwistle to a text by Michael Nyman. It was first performed on 8 May 1969 at the Festival Pavilion, West Pier, Brighton.
The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most influential band of all time. The group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. Their sound, rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways. They also pioneered recording techniques and explored music styles ranging from ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's socio-cultural movements.
One of his earliest film scores was the British sex comedy Keep It Up Downstairs (1976), and he has since scored numerous films, many of them European art films, including several of those directed by Peter Greenaway. Nyman drew frequently on early music sources in his scores for Greenaway's films: Henry Purcell in The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) (which included Memorial and Miserere Paraphrase), Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber in A Zed & Two Noughts (1985), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Drowning by Numbers (1988), and John Dowland in Prospero's Books (1991), largely at the request of the director.[ citation needed ] He wrote settings to various texts by Mozart for Letters, Riddles and Writs , part of Not Mozart . He also produced a soundtrack for the silent film Man with a Movie Camera . Nyman's popularity increased after he wrote the score to Jane Campion's award-winning 1993 film The Piano . The album became a classical music best-seller. He was nominated for both a British Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
Keep It Up Downstairs is a 1976 British sex comedy film, directed by Robert Young and starring Diana Dors, Jack Wild and William Rushton. Alternative titles for the film include Can You Keep It Up Downstairs? and My Favorite Butler.
Peter Greenaway, is a British film director, screenwriter, and artist. His films are noted for the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular. Common traits in his film are the scenic composition and illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, furniture and people, sexual pleasure and painful death.
Early music generally comprises Medieval music (500–1400) and Renaissance music (1400–1600), but can also include Baroque music (1600–1750). Early music is a broad musical era in the history of Western art music.
His few forays into Hollywood have been Gattaca (1997), Ravenous (1999) (with musician Damon Albarn), and The End of the Affair (1999).
Among Nyman's other works are the opera Noises, Sounds & Sweet Airs (1987), for soprano, alto, tenor and instrumental ensemble (based on Nyman's score for the ballet La Princesse de Milan); Ariel Songs (1990) for soprano and band; MGV (Musique à Grande Vitesse) (1993) for band and orchestra; concertos for saxophone, piano (based on The Piano score), violin, harpsichord, trombone, and saxophone & cello recorded by John Harle and Julian Lloyd Webber; the opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1986), based on a case-study by Oliver Sacks; and five string quartets. In 2000, he produced a new opera on the subject of cloning on a libretto by Victoria Hardie titled Facing Goya , an expansion of their one-act opera Vital Statistics . The lead, a widowed art banker, is written for contralto and the role was first created by Hilary Summers. His newest operas are Man and Boy: Dada (2003) and Love Counts (2005), both on libretti by Michael Hastings.
He has also composed the music for the children's television series Titchwhich is based on the books written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins.
Many of Nyman's works are written for his own ensemble, the Michael Nyman Band, a group formed for a 1976 production of Carlo Goldoni's Il Campiello. Originally made up of old instruments such as rebecs and shawms alongside more modern instruments like the saxophone to produce as loud a sound as possible without amplification, it later switched to a fully amplified line-up of string quartet, three saxophones, trumpet, horn, bass trombone, bass guitar and piano. This line up has been variously altered and augmented for some works.
Nyman also published an influential book in 1974 on experimental music called Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond, which explored the influence of John Cage on classical composers.
In the 1970s, Nyman was a member of the Portsmouth Sinfonia – the self-described World's Worst Orchestra – playing on their recordings and in their concerts. He was the featured pianist on the orchestra's recording of Bridge Over Troubled Water on the Martin Lewis-produced 20 Classic Rock Classics album on which the Sinfonia gave their unique interpretations of the pop and rock repertoire of the 1950s–1970s. Nyman created a similar group called Foster's Social Orchestra, which specialised in the work of Stephen Foster. One of their pieces appeared in the film Ravenous and an additional work, not used in the film, appeared on the soundtrack album.
He has also recorded pop music with the Flying Lizards; a version of his Bird List from the soundtrack to Peter Greenaway's The Falls (1980) appears on their album Fourth Wall as "Hands 2 Take".
On 7 July 2007, Nyman performed at Live Earth in Japan. On 2008 Nyman realised, in collaboration with the cultural association Volumina, Sublime, an artist's book that unified his music with his passion for photography.
In October 2009, Nyman released The Glare , a collaborative collection of songs with David McAlmont, which cast his work in a new light. The album – recorded with the Michael Nyman Band – finds McAlmont putting lyrics based on contemporary news stories to 11 pieces of Nyman music drawn from different phases of his career.
In 2012, he made a soundtrack for film Everyday . Keith H. Yoo in 2012 commissioned Nyman to write a 26 minutes long piano quintet in four movements titled Through the Only Window. It premiered at the gala dinner for his father Yoo Byung-eun's photographic exhibition "Through My Window" in the Tuileries Garden of The Louvre in Paris on 25 June 2012. The work has been recorded by Nyman Quintet in the Abbey Road Studios, and has been released on Nyman's record label. "AHAE", representing the four seasons in nature as depicted by Ahae, a pseudonym for Yoo Byung-eun. The London Symphony Orchestra premiered both pieces at L'Opéra of the Palace of Versailles in Paris on 8 September 2013 under the baton of the composer. It has been recorded for a planned future release.In 2013 Nyman was again commissioned to compose a piece for Yoo Byung-eun's exhibition in the Orangerie Hall of the Palace of Versailles, and wrote the 32 minutes long symphony in four movements, Symphony No. 6
He was married to Aet Nyman and has two daughters, Molly and Martha. His first string quartet quotes "Unchained Melody" in homage to Aet, who appears in Greenaway's The Falls , for which he also composed music. Molly is also a composer and in collaboration with Harry Escott has written several film scores including for The Road to Guantanamo by her father's frequent collaborator, Michael Winterbottom. Martha is a development researcher for the BBC.
Nyman is a supporter of Queen's Park Rangers Football Club.
Nyman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours.
Nyman was awarded an honorary doctorate (DLitt) from The University of Warwick on 30 January 2007. At the ceremony The University of Warwick Brass Society and Chamber Choir, conducted by Paul McGrath, premiered a specially composed procession and recession fanfare composed by Nyman.
In 2015, he was awarded the Golden Duke for Lifetime Achievement, the special award of the 6th Odessa International Film Festival.
In addition to his composing and ﬁlm-making activities, Nyman has a full international touring schedule with the Michael Nyman Band as well as a series of unique one-off performances with a variety of collaborators, including musicians from outside the western/classical/experimental traditions such as the Orqestra Andalusi de Tetouan, Rajan and Sajan Misra, U. Shrinivas, Estrella Morente, Seijin Noborakawa, Ute Lemper, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Paolo Fresu, Mike Giles, the Flying Lizards, Dagmar Krause, Sting, Damon Albarn, David McAlmont and Alva Noto .
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The Michael Nyman Band, formerly known as the Campiello Band, is a group formed as a street band for a 1976 production of Carlo Goldoni's 1756 play, Il Campiello directed by Bill Bryden at the Old Vic. The band did not wish to break up after the production ended, so its director, Michael Nyman, began composing music for the group to perform, beginning with "In Re Don Giovanni", written in 1977. Originally made up of old instruments such as rebecs, sackbuts and shawms alongside more modern instruments like the banjo and saxophone to produce as loud a sound as possible without amplification, it later switched to a fully amplified line-up of string quartet, double bass, clarinet, three saxophones, horn, trumpet, bass trombone, bass guitar, and piano. This line up has been variously altered and augmented for some works.
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The Piano Concerto/MGV is the 23rd album by Michael Nyman, released in 1994. It contains two compositions, The Piano Concerto and MGV. The first is performed by Kathryn Stott and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Michael Nyman, and the second is performed by the Michael Nyman Band and Orchestra with Michael Nyman at the piano.
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