He studied at Cambridge, and taught at Queen's University Belfast, where he was the first person in the UK to be given a personal chair in composition in 1966, before becoming Hamilton Harty Professor of Music in 1969. He was Stanley Hugh Badock Professor of Music at the University of Bristol from 1972 until his retirement in 1994.
His works include a choral Passion, a Violin Concerto, three Symphonies, a Requiem, the Oratorio Continuing Cities and an extensive amount of music for children, young people and community music making. He has also written six operas.
Raymond Warren was born in 1928 and studied at Cambridge University (1949–52) reading mathematics at first and then changing to music under Boris Ord and Robin Orr: later he studied privately with Michael Tippett (1952–60), Lennox Berkeley (1958). and Benjamin Britten (1961). From 1955-72 he taught at Queen's University, Belfast, where from 1966 he held a personal Chair in composition. While in Belfast, an association with the Lyric Players theatre company involved writing music for many of the plays of W. B. Yeats. For the years 1966-72 he was Resident Composer to the Ulster Orchestra, writing for them a number of orchestral works and also conducting the Orchestra in a series of Sunday afternoon concerts of contemporary music. In 1972 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Bristol, a post from which he retired in 1994. Since then he has composed to commission for a wide variety of performers notably the Brunel Ensemble (Symphony No.3, In My Childhood) and the London Children's Ballet (Ballet Shoes, 2001). He has collaborated with many other artists of note including the poets John Reed, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Charles Tomlinson, the choreographer Helen Lewis and the founders of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and written for performers including Peter Pears, Julian Bream, Eric Gruenberg, Cecil Aronowitz, Janet Price, Christopher Austin, Jeremy Huw Williams, David Ogden and the Dartington String Quartet.
Major works include: The Passion (1962), Symphony No.1 (1964) the Violin Concerto (1966), Songs of Old Age (1968), Symphony No.2 (1969), the oratorio Continuing Cities (1989), Symphony No.3 (1995), In My Childhood (1998) and Cello Requiem (2018) as well as his six operas.
Chamber music includes two Piano Sonata's, a Violin Sonata, three String Quartets and the Piano Trio: Burnt Norton Sketches (1985) which were later orchestrated by Christopher Austin (1999). Song cycles include Spring 1948 (1956), The Pity of Love (1966), Songs of Old Age (1968), the orchestral song cycle In My Childhood (1998), Another Spring (2008) and The Coming (2010). Music for children and young people includes the opera Finn and the Black Hag (1959), Songs of Unity (1968) written for Methodist College, Belfast and several pieces written for youth orchestras including Ring of Light (2005), A Star Danced (2009) and Variations on a Gloucester Chime (2012). His shorter choral works include the cantata The Death of Orpheus (1953 revised 2009), the motet Salvator Mundi (1976), The Starlight Night (1990), the evening canticles written for Bristol Cathedral: The Bristol Service (1991) and Celtic Blessings (1996). Music for dance includes two notable collaborations with Helen Lewis, There is a Time (1970) and the London Children's Ballet, Ballet Shoes (2001).
He has made several collaborations with poets, providing instrumental music to compliment spoken words, including Lares (1972) with Michael Longley and The Sound of Time (1984) with Charles Tomlinson.The first of these was with his contemporary Seamus Heaney, A Lough Neagh Sequence (1970). Warren wrote: " I knew Seamus Heaney quite well – we were both young lecturers at the Queen’s University of Belfast – and I thought of him then, before his coming to international fame, as essentially a deep-rooted Irish country poet. He didn’t want his poetry to lose its own “music” by being sung, and I was happy with this because, as an outsider to his tradition I felt I could not readily penetrate it with my music so closely. Hence the decision not to set his sequence as song but instead to have the poems read and to bring out their almost ritualistic long term structures with the use of overlaid piano interludes." Heaney made a recording of this version of his poetry with Warren's music in 2011.
Many of his shorter works are among his most powerful including the solo cantata for Flute, Piano and Mezzo Soprano, Drop, Drop Slow Tears (1960) and the Song for St. Cecilia’s Day (1967) scored for tenor, flute, viola, guitar and first performed by Peter Pears, Richard Adeney, Cecil Aronowitz and Julian Bream. His best selling work as a recording is the orchestral suite Wexford Bells (1970) .
Dwell In My Love: Choral Music by Raymond Warren, Bristol Graduate Singers, Edward Davies, 1994
Piano Sonata (Philip Mead), “Lough Neagh Sequence”, (with Seamus Heaney - reader), “In my childhood” (Olivia Robinson with the University of Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra conducted by Robin Browning) http://www.uhrecordings.co.uk/about/default.aspx, 2010
Due for release in 2010 - Songs Cycles including Songs of Old Age and The Coming, http://www.jeremyhuwwilliams.com/Jeremy/Welcome___Croeso.html[permanent dead link]
- The Lady of Ephesus (1959)
- Finn and the Black Hag (1959)
- Graduation Ode (1963)
- Let My People Go (1972)
- St. Patrick (1979)
- In the Beginning (1982)
- Warren, Raymond: The Composer and Opera Performance in Thomas, W. (ed.), Composition - Performance - Reception: Studies in the Creative Process in Music, Ashgate, 1998, ISBN 1-85928-325-X
- "Raymond Warren MA MusD (Cantab): Emeritus Professor of Music". University of Bristol Department of Music. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-01-21.
- "Warren, Raymond (Henry Charles)". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
- Opera Glass
- Warren, Raymond (2012). "The Next Ocean". https://www.robinbrowning.com. External link in
- Raymond Warren: A Study of His Music. Work in preparation, Edward Davies
- Biography at Severnside Composers Alliance website – contains photograph and list of works
- https://www.impulse-music.co.uk/raymondwarren/ - Website of Raymond Warren