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Elliott Gyger : Represented Artist

My recent vocal works hinge on a fascination with languages and the ways they work - phonetically, syntactically, semantically, dramatically. In writing music (whether vocal or instrumental) I seek to address the same concerns under different labels

Random Audio Sample: Movement for small orchestra : full orchestra by Elliott Gyger, from the CD Instrumental works

Photo of Elliott Gyger

Photo: David Ellis


Elliott Gyger was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1968, and began writing music at about the age of ten. His composition teachers have included Ross Edwards, Peter Sculthorpe, Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Sydney (1990) and a Ph.D. in Music from Harvard University (2002). His awards have included the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Fellowship, the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and commission grants from the Australia Council and the Fromm Foundation. He was in residence at La Mortella on Ischia for the month of July 2003, as the inaugural Harvard-Walton Fellow.

Elliott Gyger's music essays a synthesis of some of the bewildering diversity within Western art music of the late 20th and early 21st century. Grounded in the structural rigour of high modernism, it is concerned with the nexus between harmony and instrumental/vocal gesture. His instrumental works typically explore dramatic interactions between soloists and groups, whether in an orchestral or chamber context. His substantial vocal and choral output is similarly multilayered, with many pieces setting texts in multiple languages. Key influences range from Dufay, Monteverdi and Bach to Elliott Carter, Luciano Berio, Harrison Birtwistle and several recent British composers, as well as Australia's Nigel Butterley.

Gyger's music has been played by many of Australia's major performing groups, including the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, as well as North American ensembles such as the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the New York New Music Ensemble, Columbia Sinfonietta, Collage, and the Emerson, Mendelssohn and Ying Quartets. Recent premieres have included Soli (2003), for the Ying Quartet; Temptation in the Desert (2005), for Boston's Seraphim Singers; From the hungry waiting country (2006), for Halcyon, which was highly commended in the 2006 Paul Lowin Song Cycle Award; and Dancing in the wind (2007), for San Francisco-based choirs Volti and the Piedmont Ensemble.

In addition to his work as a composer, Elliott Gyger is active as a performer, teacher, curator, and writer on music. He was a founding member and co-director of the Contemporary Singers, a Sydney chamber choir devoted exclusively to new music. He was Assistant Professor of Music at Harvard from 2002 to 2007, and has recently taken up a new position as Lecturer in Composition at the University of Melbourne.

Biography provided by the composer — current to September 2008

Influenced by

Nigel Butterley


Studied with

Ross Edwards

Peter Sculthorpe


Teacher/Influence on

Jane Stanley

Mark Viggiani (2008 - current)

Nicholas Vines (2001)

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Quicksilver elegy : for four instruments, in memoriam Elliott Carter (2013) Commissioned by Kay Zhang.
Digital sheet music sample In praise of sandstone : for voices, piano (4 hands) and percussion (6 players) (2012) Commissioned by Sydney Grammar School.
...out of obscurity : for extended piano (2011) Commissioned by Zubin Kanga.
Digital sheet music sample voice (and nothing more) (satb choir with solo voice(s)) (2011) Commissioned by Volti (Musical group).
Digital sheet music sample Crystallize : for percussion quartet (2010) Commissioned by Fromm Foundation.
Digital sheet music sample Precipice : for oboe and piano (2010) Commissioned as part of the "101 Compositions for 100 Years" project.

Analysis & Media

- Article: Rough Beast, Couth Clouds

- Document: Harbour Noise is a Fatal Distraction

- Program note: Flower Songs Ross Edwards

- Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies

- Program note: Silence

- Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies 2 October 1993

- Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies 2 October 1993

- Review: Spring International Festival of New Music 16 October 1993

- Program note: FICTA

- Review: The Song Company Ten Years 1984-1994 21 August 1994

- Review: The Song Company ten Years 1984-1994 21 August 1994

- Review: The Song Company ten years 1984 - 1994 21 August 1994