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Roger Smalley (1943-2015) : Represented Artist

Random Audio Sample: Concerto for piano and orchestra : piano with orchestra by Roger Smalley, from the CD Concerto for piano and orchestra ; Symphony


Photo of Roger Smalley

Artist website: http://www.rogersmalley.com

A prominent and versatile figure in contemporary music, Roger Smalley was born near Manchester, England in 1943. He studied piano with Antony Hopkins and composition with Peter Racine Fricker and John White at the Royal College of Music, London. He also took private composition lessons with Alexander Goehr and furthered his studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen on the Cologne Course for New Music.

Roger Smalley's compositions have been performed and broadcast world-wide. He was commissioned by many prestigious organisations and groups, including the BBC, ABC, West German Radio, Festival of Perth, London Sinfonietta, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Fires of London, Flederman, Nova Ensemble, Seymour Group and Australia Ensemble. His works feature on more than 20 commercially released CDs.

As a young composer, he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for his orchestral work Gloria Tibi Trinitas. His Piano Concerto, a BBC commission for European Music Year (1985), was the recommended work in the annual UNESCO Rostrum of Composers in 1987. This was the first time the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's entry made it to the top of the list. In 2007, Smalley's orchestral piece Birthday Tango (retitled Footwork) received the Australian Classical Music Award in the category 'Best composition by an Australian composer'.

As a pianist, Roger Smalley was widely recognised for his performances of contemporary music. Early in his career, he was a prize-winner in the Gaudeamus competition for interpreters of contemporary music (1966), and received the Harriet Cohen award for contemporary music performance in 1968. In 1969, together with Tim Souster, he formed Intermodulation, an ensemble specialising in works involving improvisation and live electronics, which performed throughout England and Europe until 1976.

Smalley's academic career was always closely tied to his activities as a composer and performer. In 1968, he was appointed the first Artist-in-Residence at King's College, Cambridge, where he subsequently held a three-year research fellowship. He came to Australia initially for a three-month composer residency at the University of Western Australia in 1974. He returned two years later to become a research fellow and subsequently Associate Professor of Music. In 1996, he was appointed a professiorial Research Fellow at the UWA.

In 1989, he became the first Artistic Director and conductor of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra's 20th Century Ensemble, continuing until 2000. He was also often involved with the Perth-based Tura New Music's programs, performing, conducting and in an advisory capacity. His recordings as pianist and conductor have been released, among others, on the ABC Classics and Tall Poppies labels.

In 1991 he was the recipient of a Creative Development Award from the West Australian Department for the Arts, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 1994 he was awarded the Australia Council's prestigious Don Banks Fellowship 'in recognition of his distinguished contribution to Australian music'. He received the Australian Government Centenary Medal in 2001 and was proclaimed a Western Australian Living Treasure in 2004. In 2011, Smalley was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Roger Smalley was Emeritus Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and Honorary Research Associate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

In 2007, Roger Smalley moved from Perth to Sydney where he lived until his death on 18 August 2015.


Teacher/Influence on

Iain Grandage (1989 - 1992)

Jennifer O'Connor

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2011 Order of Australia Member of the Order of Australia
2007 Classical Music Awards - Best Composition by an Australian Composer Winner Footwork
1994 Don Banks Music Award Recipient

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Digital sheet music sample Morceau de concours : for solo piano (2007) Commissioned by Sydney International Piano Competition.
Footwork : string orchestra (2006) Commissioned for the Australian Chamber Orchestra's 30th anniversary.
Digital sheet music sample Lament, for the victims of natural disasters : for solo horn and 4 tam tams (2005) Commissioned by University of Western Australia Department of Music.
Digital sheet music sample Piano concerto no. 2 : piano with orchestra : youth orchestra (2004) Commissioned by Rev. Dr Arthur Bridge for performance by Ars Musica Australis, Sydney Youth Orchestra.
Three studies in black and white : for solo piano (2004) Commissioned by Emily Green-Armytage.
Piano quintet : piano quintet (2003) John Bishop Memorial Commission for 2004

Analysis & Media

Book: Australian pianists : a cross-section of performers offers insights into aspects of pianism / edited by Martin Comte.

Book: Roger Smalley : a case study of late twentieth-century composition / Christopher Mark.

Book: Poles apart : the music of Roger Smalley / [edited by Judy Thonell]

- Article: Dawn of a new world symphony

- Document: Harbour Noise is a Fatal Distraction