Professor Stephen Goss
The compositions of Stephen Goss are utterly captivating – The Independent
Timeless – at once prehistoric and futuristic. And despite being inspired by intellectual rigour, the atmosphere is peaceful, even playful. – The Times
Stephen Goss’s music receives hundreds of performances worldwide each year. It has been recorded on over 90 CDs by more than a dozen record labels, including EMI, Decca, Telarc, Virgin Classics, Naxos, and Deutsche Grammophon. His output embraces multiple genres: orchestral and choral works, chamber music, and solo pieces. He is considered ‘one of the guitar’s finest living composers’ (International Record Review).
Goss’s work is marked by a fascination with time and place – both immediate and remote – and the musical styles that evoke them. In many of his compositions, contrasting styles are juxtaposed through abrupt changes of gear. As BBC Music Magazine noted ‘Goss weaves together an eclectic range of influences – at once retrospective and forward-looking’. His compositional voice is shaped by his parallel career as a guitarist – that is to say, as a performer, transcriber, arranger, improviser and collaborator with other composers and performers. Not surprisingly, his music often tests the boundaries between all these activities and original composition.
Recent work includes several projects with the guitarist John Williams, who has recorded and toured Steve’s Guitar Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Describing the concerto in a interview for Soundboard, Williams said ‘I don’t know of any guitar concerto which is a consistently successful on all fronts’.
Steve’s music has been performed by many of the world’s leading orchestras including: The Russian National Orchestra (under Mikhail Pletnev), The China National Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, The State Symphony Orchestra ‘New Russia’, The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. In his role as composer-in-residence for the Orpheus Sinfonia, Steve wrote the Piano Concerto, (released by Signum Classics in 2013), and the Concerto for Five (for the unique combination of violin, saxophone, cello, bass, piano and orchestra). Steve’s Albéniz Concerto for guitar and orchestra was released to great critical acclaim on EMI Classics in 2010. A Concerto of Colours, for guitar and wind ensemble, was commissioned by a consortium of 13 American wind orchestras in 2017. Most recently, Steve has written the Koblenz Concerto for two guitars and orchestra (for SoloDuo) and the Theorbo Concerto for Matthew Wadsworth: the first concerto ever written for the theorbo.
Other commissions have come from: percussionist Evelyn Glennie, cellist Natalie Clein, flautist William Bennett, and tenor Ian Bostridge, as well as guitarists David Russell, Xuefei Yang, Zoran Dukić, Miloš Karadaglić, Aniello Desiderio, and Lukasz Kuropaczewski. Steve’s project with Charles Jencks, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, was profiled on The South Bank Show, the UK’s premier Arts TV programme. Steve’s eclectic approach has led to collaborations with artists as diverse as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alt-J, and Avi Avital.
As a guitarist, Steve has worked with many leading composers (such as Toru Takemitsu, Hans Werner Henze, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Elliott Carter) and toured and recorded extensively with the Tetra Guitar Quartet and other ensembles.
Born in Wales in 1964, Stephen Goss studied at the Royal Academy of Music (where he won the Julian Bream Prize) and the Universities of Bristol and London (where he completed his doctorate).
His composition teachers included Edward Gregson, Robert Saxton, Peter Dickinson and Anthony Payne, and he studied guitar with Michael Lewin. Steve is currently Professor of Composition and Director of the International Guitar Research Centre at the University of Surrey, UK, and a Professor of Guitar at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
In 2018 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, an honour limited to 300 living people. He is an Arsenal season ticket holder.