Born in Harrow on the Hill (London), Northcott read English at Oxford University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oxford in 1962. He then taught English from 1964 to 1970. Northcott developed an interest in composition. He was encouraged by Alexander Goehr and Hans Keller. Subsequently he read music at the University of Southampton, where his instructors included Goehr and Jonathan Harvey. Northcott earned a BMus degree from Southampton in 1971. Northcott has mentored other composers such as Robin Holloway and Julian Anderson.
Northcott has served as a music critic for the New Statesman, for the Sunday Telegraph from 1976 to 1986, and he was chief music critic of The Independent from 1986 to 2009. He has also written on music for Tempo and BBC Music Magazine. He was a director of the independent recording company NMC. A selection of his writings was published in the volume The Way We Listen Now in 2009.
List of compositions
- Sonata for Solo Oboe, Op. 1 (1977–78)
- Six Japanese Lyrics, Op. 2 (1971/1997; texts translated by the composer)
- Fantasia for Guitar, Op. 3 (1981–82)
- Hymn to Cybele (1983; text – Catullus, translated by the composer)
- Sextet, Op. 5 (1984–85)
- Carillon (after Machaut; 1987)
- Three English Lyrics, Op. 6 (1988; texts – Anon, 15th-16th century)
- Of All the Instruments (after Purcell; 1994)
- Concerto for Horn and Ensemble, Op. 8 (1990–98)
- Memento (1999; text – Hilda Morley)
- Salve Regina, Op. 7, No. 1 (1999; text - Anon Latin)
- Alma Redemptoris Mater, Op. 7, No. 2 (2000; text – Anon Latin)
- Ave Regina Celorum / Alleluia, Op. 7, No. 3 (1997; text – Anon Latin)
- Regina Celi, Op.7, No. 4 (2003; text – Anon Latin)
- Fandango, Op. 9, for harpsichord (2006)
- Canticle: The Doubting of Thomas (2007)
- Poet and Star (2008; text – Thomas Hardy)
- Doubles All Round (2009)
- Concerto for Orchestra (2016)
- Don Michael Randel (editor) (1999). The Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Belknap Press (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA). ISBN 0674000846. p 454.
- Nicholas Kenyon (1983-11-06). "Flexibility is this orchestra's hallmark". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- Julian Anderson (2007-06-08). "First night nerves". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- Julian Andreson, Programme note to Prom 62, BBC Proms, 31 August 2016, pp 6-7.
- Allan Kozinn (1986-11-02). "Recordings: Bridge Records: A Haven for New Music Honors the Old". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- Tom Service (2000-04-09). "London Sinfonietta/ Knussen - Queen Elizabeth Hall, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-06-07.
- Andrew Clements (2016-09-01). "BBCSO/Young review – sumptuous variety but balance problems". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
- Williamson, Rosemary. 2001. "Northcott, Bayan." In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
- Stainer & Bell Ltd agency page on Bayan Northcott
- Saturday Chorale blog, 'Bayan Northcott (born 1940): Salve Regina', 19 January 2016
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