Michael Finnissy (born 17 March 1946) is an English composer and pianist. His music is characterised by the range of extremes often found in his work; opposing binary structures are found commonly, often seen as juxtaposing textures, register and tempi. Many of Finnissy's compositions are statements, or reflections, on topics of personal significance.
Finnissy was born in Tulse Hill, London. He was a foundation scholar at the Royal College of Music from 1965–68, where he studied composition with Bernard Stevens and the Webern disciple Humphrey Searle, and piano with Edwin Benbow.
He served as president of the International Society for Contemporary Music from 1990 until 1996.
Finnissy has taught many of the new generation of British composers. He has taught at the Royal Academy of Music, the University of Sussex, and is currently Professor of composition at the University of Southampton.
- Morgan Hayes
- Claudia Molitor
- Andrew Fisher
- Jeroen Speak
- Benjamin Wallfisch
- James Weeks
- Matt Lima
- Evren Celimli
Finnissy became known for the political side of music, and he believes that all music is 'programmatic' to some degree, that is, a composition exists in not just the composer's mind, but inside a culture that reflects both the extra-musical and purely musical concerns of the composer. Music, far from being unable to express anything other than itself (as Stravinsky said) is a force for change. This engagement with political and social themes became more frequent as his career progressed. For example, the influence of homosexual themes and concerns began to enter his work; as in Shameful Vice in 1994, and more explicitly in Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets in 1997.
- Barrett, Richard. 1995. "Michael Finnissy: An Overview". Contemporary Music Review 13, no. 1:23–43.
- Bortz, Graziela. 2003. Rhythm in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy, and Arthur Kampela: A Guide for Performers. Ph.D. Thesis, City University of New York.
- Brougham, Henrietta, Christopher Fox, and Ian Pace (eds.). 1997. Uncommon Ground: The Music of Michael Finnissy. Aldershot, Hants., and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 1-85928-356-X.
- Cross, Jonathan. 2001, "Finnissy, Michael (Peter)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers. Updated by Ian Pace, 26 May 2010, Grove Music Online, edited by Deane Root.
- Pace, Ian. 1996. "The Panorama of Michael Finnissy: I". Tempo, no. 196 (1996), 25–35.
- Pace, Ian. 1997. "The Panorama of Michael Finnissy: II". Tempo, no. 201 (1997), 7–16.
- Steenhuisen, Paul. "Interview with Michael Finnissy". In Sonic Mosaics: Conversations with Composers. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-88864-474-9
- Toop, Richard. 1988. "Four Facets of the 'New Complexity'". Contact, no. 32:4–50.
- Cross 2001.
- Cross 2001.