Thomas Simaku

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Thomas Simaku (born 18 April 1958, Kavajë) is an Albanian-British composer.


Simaku studied composition between the years 1978-1982 at the Academy of Music and Arts of Albania under Tonin Harapi. After graduation he was nominated as Director of Music at the Palace of Culture of Permet, in southern Albania.[1]

In 1991 Simaku moved to England to study for a PhD in composition with David Blake at the University of York, which he was awarded in 1996.[2]

Prizes and awards[edit]

Notable prizes and awards that Simaku has won include:

  • 1993: The much coveted Lionel Robbins Memorial Scholarship, being the only candidate from the UK to win that year.
  • 1996: Leonard Bernstein Fellowship in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre in the U.S. with Bernard Rands.
  • 1998: Fellowship at the Composers’ Workshop at California State University with Brian Ferneyhough.
  • 2000: A highly prestigious Fellowship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council in London.
  • 2004: Serocki International Prize, Warsaw.
  • 2009: British Composer Award (Instrumental) for Soliloquy V: Flauto Acerbo.[3]
  • 2013: First Prize in the International Composition Competition for Lutoslawski's 100th Birthday for Concerto for Orchestra.[4][5]


Simaku's music has been performed throughout the UK and Europe, as well as in North America, Australia and the Far East. In 1995 his work Epitaph for String Orchestra was selected by the International Jury for the ISCM World Music Days in Germany - the first ever Albanian music to be included in this prestigious festival. Subsequently, Simaku's works have been selected by the International Jury at the World Music Days of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2012.

Other international festivals where his music has been performed include Music Biennale Zagreb, Tanglewood, Avignon, Miami, Cagliari, KlangSpectrum (Austria), Viitasaari (Finland), Innsbruck (Austria), Odense (Denmark), Manchester, York, Birmingham, Automne de Tirana amongst others. In October 2013, Simaku was invited to give a lecture at the 5th Pharos International Contemporary Music Festival in Nicosia, Cyprus, on the genesis and processes involved in his Soliloquy Cycle.[6]

Broadcasts of his music include those by Radio-France, BBC-Radio 3, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Austrian, Polish, Croatian, Danish, Portuguese, Hellenic, Swedish, Romanian, Swiss and Icelandic radio stations. Performances of his works include, among others, those given by the Arditti Quartet, Kreutzer Quartet, Quatuor Diotima, English Northern Philharmonia, MusikFabrik, Slovenian Radio-Television Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam New Music Ensemble, the New London Orchestra, Goldberg Ensemble, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Phonosphere Musicale, London's Kreutzer Quartet, Polish Radio Chamber Orchestra, Rubinstein Quartet, Copenhagen Sinfonietta, Luxembourg Sinfonietta, Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra, Capricorn Ensemble, Norwegian Medieval Trio, Tyrolean Ensemble of New Music (TICOM), The Duke String Quartet, and Tirana Asmus Ensemble.[citation needed]


Simaku's music is published in England by University of York Music Press and Emerson Edition. In 2008 the Kreutzer Quartet recorded a CD of string quartets and solo works by Simaku for Naxos Records.[7]

Selected works[edit]

Orchestra and large ensembles[edit]

  • Plenilunio for 12 solo strings, 1998
  • The Eagle on the Cross for orchestra, 1998
  • Luxonorité for ensemble, 2001
  • Plenilunio II for string orchestra, 2004
  • Hyllus for Orchestra, 2004
  • Arc-en-ciel concerto for cello & orchestra, 2006
  • Insomnio for fifteen players, 2007
  • The Shadow of a Brass Line for Orchestra, 2011
  • Concerto for Orchestra, 2012 (Winning work of the International Competition for Lutoslawski’s 100th Birthday)

Chamber and solo works[edit]

  • Soliloquy I for solo violin, 2000
  • Soliloquy II for solo cello, 2001
  • Soliloquy III for solo viola, 2002
  • Due Sotto-Voci per Violino Solo, 2003
  • String Quartet No, 2 ‘Radius’, 2003
  • String Quartet No.3 ‘Voci Celesti’, 2004
  • des pas chromatiques – Hommage à Debussy for piano, 2005
  • Soliloquy IV for bass clarinet, 2008
  • a2 for violin & cello, 2008
  • Clarimbasso for bass clarinet & percussion, 2008
  • Soliloquy V - Flauto acerbo for Alto & Tenor Recorders, 2008
  • Stepping Up for piano, 2009
  • The Flight of the Eagle for piano, 2010
  • Reflexions de la Croix I for six players, 2010
  • Need for Speech for soprano and piano, 2010
  • Three Albanian Folk Songs for female choir, 2010
  • String Quartet No 4, 2011
  • Hommage à Kurtág for piano, 2011
  • Akhmatova Song for soprano & cello, 2011
  • Trois Esquisses for piano, 2012
  • Solar (a) for trumpet, violin, piano, 2013
  • Solar (a) for clarinet, violin, piano, 2013
  • Deux Esquisses for piano, 2013


In 2000 Simaku was granted British citizenship, and lives in York with his wife and two daughters. Simaku is a Reader in Composition at the University of York.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Simaku, Thoma; Bobaton. "Thoma Simaku biography". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Thomas Simaku". University of York Music Press. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  3. ^ "British Composer Award Winners". British Composer Awards. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Composition Competition Winners Announced!". The Witold Lutoslawski Society. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Thomas Simaku wins Lutoslawski Competition". Polskie Radio. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Soliloquy Cycle – Sweet and/or Sour?". 5th International Pharos Contemporary Music Festival. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Simaku: String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3/Soliloquy I-III". Naxos. Retrieved 27 February 2012.

External links[edit]