Michael Finnissy

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Michael Finnissy (born 17 March 1946) is an English composer and pianist.

Finnissy has taught at the Royal Academy of Music, the University of Sussex, and is Professor of composition at the University of Southampton[1] and is Composer in Residence at St. John's College Cambridge




Finnissy's works for the piano are notable for their extreme demands on technique. They include his 36 Verdi Transcriptions, written between 1972 and 2005.

Finnissy is concerned with the political aspects 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.[1]


  • 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.[permanent dead link]
  • 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.


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