Roger Smalley

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Roger Smalley AM (born 26 July 1943) is a British-Australian composer, pianist and conductor. Professor Smalley is currently a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Music, University of Western Australia in Perth and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Sydney.


Smalley was born in Swinton, Lancashire, England. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Antony Hopkins (piano), Peter Racine Fricker and John White (both composition) (Mark 2001). In addition, he studied with Alexander Goehr at Morley College, and attended Karlheinz Stockhausen's Cologne Course for New Music in 1965–66, as well as Pierre Boulez's Darmstadt summer course in 1965 (Mark 2001).

The group specialised in works involving improvisation and live electronics. He moved to Australia in the early 1970s.

As a young composer, he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for his orchestral work Gloria Tibi Trinitas. His first Piano Concerto, a BBC commission for European Music Year (1985), was the recommended work in the annual UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in 1987, the first time an ABC entry succeeded to first place.

Smalley's compositions are performed and broadcast worldwide. Commissions include the BBC, ABC Television, West German Radio, Perth International Arts Festival, London Sinfonietta, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian String Quartet, Grainger Quartet, Fires of London, Flederman, Nova Ensemble, Seymour Group and Australia Ensemble. His works and performances feature on over 20 commercially released CDs, amongst them ABC Classics, Tall Poppies and Melba Recordings.

In addition to his work as a composer, Smalley is recognised as a distinguished pianist, especially noted for his performance of contemporary and 18th–19th century works. Early in his career he was a prizewinner in the Gaudeamus Competition for interpreters of contemporary music (1966) and won the Harriet Cohen Award for contemporary music performance in 1968.

In 1969 Smalley and Tim Souster formed the acclaimed live-electronic group Intermodulation. Over the next six years Intermodulation toured widely in the UK, West Germany, Poland, France and Iran, their repertoire including works by Souster and Smalley, but also works of Cornelius Cardew, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Christian Wolff and others.

His recordings include a CD of piano music by Australian composers and another of song cycles by Schumann.

He sometimes quotes melodies by other composers in his works. The String Quartet No. 2 (2000) and the Piano Quintet (2003) incorporate melodies from mazurkas by Frédéric Chopin.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Smalley's orchestral piece Birthday Tango (recently retitled Footwork) received the APRA Classical Music Award 2007 in the category 'Best Composition by an Australian Composer' (Anon 2007). These awards are presented annually by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and Australian Music Centre (AMC) (Anon. 2010).


Roger Smalley was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 (Australian Government 2001) and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours of 2011 (Australian Government 2011).


Works by Roger Smalley include:

  • Echo II for cello and digital delays (1978)
  • Pulses for 5x4 players
  • Symphony (1979–81)
  • Piano Concerto No. 1 (1984–85)
  • Variations on a Theme of Chopin for piano (1988-9)
  • Piano Trio (1990–91)
  • Poles Apart (1992)
  • Trio for clarinet, viola and piano (1992–99)
  • Oboe Concerto (1995–96)
  • Crepuscule, for piano quartet (1998–99)
  • String Quartet no. 2 (1999–2000)
  • Horn Trio (2000–2002)
  • Piano Quintet (2003)
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 (2004)
  • Contrabassoon Concerto
  • Suite for two violins (2007)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]