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Grange was born in London. He attended Peter Maxwell Davies’s classes at Dartington, and then took further, private, lessons with Davies while at The University of York, where he also studied composition with David Blake.
He was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge (1985–7), and Northern Arts Fellow in Composition at Durham University (1988–9) before joining the music department at Exeter University as lecturer (1989), reader (1995) and professor (1999) in composition. In 2000 he moved to the University of Manchester, where he is Professor of Music.
Grange's first published pieces date from the late 1970s, and include Cimmerian Nocturne (1979), which was commissioned by The Fires of London, and included a performance under director Peter Maxwell Davies at the 1983 Proms as well as performances in Britain and abroad. Other early works include The Kingdom of Bones for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, (1983), Variations (1988) and Concerto for Orchestra: Labyrinthine Images (1988)
During the early 1990s Grange completed two BBC commissions, Focus and Fade for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which performed the premiere at the Royal Festival Hall in 1992 conducted by Andrew Davis, and Lowry Dreamscape, which was premiered at the 1993 BBC Festival of Brass by the Sun Life Brass Band conducted by Roy Newsome. Other works from this period include Piano Polyptich (premiered by Stephen Pruslin at the 1993 Aldeburgh Festival) and Bacchus Bagatelles for wind quintet.
In July 2009, the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain performed the world premiere of Cloud Atlas, a large-scale work based on the 2004 Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel by David Mitchell, at the 2009 Cheltenham Music Festival, conductrf by Philip Scott.
- Clive Williamson, Philip Grange Tempo, New Ser., No. 146 (Sep., 1983), pp. 25-30 
- "Prof. Philip Grange". School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester.
- Camden Reeves, Music as Transition a : An Interview with Philip Grange, Tempo (2006), 60: 15-22 .