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Eric Gross (1926-2011) : Represented Artist

My first duty as a composer, in addition to maintaining professional and artistic integrity, is to my performers/interpreters: it is they who must invest time and energy in order to bring my music to life and place it before its audience.

Random Audio Sample: Klavierstucke II, op.127 (solo piano) by Eric Gross, from the CD Dangerous by moonlight

Photo of Eric Gross

Eric Gross was born in Vienna in 1926, where he studied piano with Hans Erich Apostl. In 1938 he emigrated to England and eventually studied at Trinity College of Music and later at the University of Aberdeen with Reginald Barrett-Ayres, where he obtained the degrees of MA and MLITT as well as a Doctorate of Music.

From the age of fourteen, Gross worked as a pianist in bands and orchestras, and as a studio accompanist for the BBC. Following professional engagements in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and New Caledonia, he settled in Sydney in 1958. Initially teaching at the Sydney Conservatorium, he joined the staff of the Department of Music at the University of Sydney in 1960 and remained there until retiring in 1991 as Associate Professor of Music. In 1989 he was visiting Professor at the University of Guyana. A past President of the Fellowship of Australian Composers, he was also Treasurer and Executive Board Member of the Asian Composers' League from 1981 until 1994.

Apart from teaching, Gross was active as composer, arranger and conductor. He received numerous commissions for film scores for Film Australia and TV scores for Screen Gems Columbia, as well as numerous commissions from the ABC. In 1976 he received the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award from Melbourne University.

While working as a conductor of the Pro Musica Society of Sydney University and the St. Andrew's Cathedral Choral Society, Gross wrote numerous works for the orchestras and choirs associated with these societies. Political statements were made in the orchestral work Na Shledanou v Praze (premiered in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia during a period of Russian occupation) which used the Czech National Anthem as its main theme. In other works, such as the cantata Pacem in Terris, Gross used pertinent philosophical or political texts.

In addition to a predilection for jazz idioms, Gross's worldwide travels and cultural experiences gave his music a cosmopolitan flavour, with traces of Austrian, Scottish, Asian and South American influences emerging from time to time. He also enjoyed experimentation, especially when a sympathetic virtuoso or ensemble such as bass baritone Alan Light, trombonist Greg van der Struik or the Sydney Mandolins, was available.

In 1998 Gross was made a Member of the Order of Australia and, on Australia Day 2006, he was declared to be the City of Canada Bay Cultural and Artistic Citizen of the Year.

Eric Gross passed away on 17 April 2011.

Teacher/Influence on

Matthew Hindson

Matthew Orlovich (1989 - 2000)

Caitlin Rowley (1991)

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
1998 Order of Australia Member of the Order For service to music as a composer and educator particularly through the University of Sydney and the Fellowship of Australian Composers
1976 Albert H Maggs Composition Award First Prize Trilogy for orchestra, op.112

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
The Shepherd of Bethlehem : a cantata for Christmas Specially composed for the Centenary Celebrations of St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney
Sallygraphy, op. 311 : intermezzo for solo piano (2010) Commissioned by Sally Mays.
Digital sheet music sample Lord I pray, op.312 : a children's hymn (2010) Commissioned by Andrew Pell.
Digital sheet music sample Three mandola duets, op. 282M (duos: 2 mandolas) (2009) Commissioned for Michael Hooper.
Piango concertante, op. 302/A : for piano (2008) Commissioned by Sally Mays.
Digital sheet music sample Hommage à Ferdinand David, op. 305/A : a study for solo piano (2008) Commissiond by Idil Ugur