Graeme Koehne

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Graeme Koehne (born 3 August 1956) is an Australian composer and music educator. He is best known for his orchestral and ballet scores, which are characterised by direct communicative style and embrace of triadic tonality. His orchestral trilogy Unchained Melody, Powerhouse, and Elevator Music makes allusions to Hollywood film score traditions, cartoon music, popular Latin music and other dance forms. He cites influences from "much-maligned and misunderstood" work by composers Les Baxter, Nelson Riddle, Henry Mancini and John Barry.[citation needed]

Life and career[edit]

Koehne was born in Adelaide. He completed his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in that city, studying composition with Richard Meale.

In 1984, Koehne was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to work at the School of Music, Yale University. Here he studied with Louis Andriessen and Jacob Druckman. For two years of the fellowship he also took private lessons with Virgil Thomson, whose influence is immediately discernible in the radically simplified, direct and anti-modern style of various subsequent scores by Koehne.[1]

He returned to Australia in 1986 and was appointed Lecturer in Composition at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. At the 1992 Adelaide Festival of Arts, he gained national attention, when he was awarded the Young Composers Prize for his orchestral work Rainforest. Around this time, he commenced his long and fruitful collaboration with choreographer Graeme Murphy, which included a children's ballet based on Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant and the full-length work Nearly Beloved.

As of 2005, Koehne is Head of Composition at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. Until recently he also chaired the Music Board of the Australia Council and was a Board Member of the Council.


In 2001, Graeme Koehne was awarded the Centenary Medal.[2]



  • Nearly Beloved (1986; Sydney Dance Company)[3]
  • Nocturnes, 1914 (Australian Ballet)
  • The Selfish Giant (1983; Sydney Dance Company)[3]
  • Tivoli (2001; Sydney Dance Company/Australian Ballet co-production)[3]

Chamber music[edit]

  • String Quartet
  • To His Servant Bach God Grants a Final Glimpse - The Morning Star (1989; also transcribed as organ trio)


  • InFlight Entertainment (2000, Oboe concerto)


  • Rainforest (c. 1982)
  • Unchained Melody (1991)
  • Powerhouse (1993)
  • Elevator Music (1997)
  • Way Out West (2000)
  • Sleep of Reason (2008)

Awards and nominations[edit]

APRA Awards[edit]



External links[edit]