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Gerald Barry

Gerald Barry

Country of origin: Ireland
Birthday: April 28, 1952

About Gerald Barry

The world now has something rare: a new genuinely comic opera and maybe the most inventive Oscar Wilde opera since Richard Strauss' Salome more than a century ago. – The Los Angeles Times on The Importance of Being Earnest

Gerald Barry was born in Clarehill, Clarecastle, County Clare, Ireland, in 1952, and studied with Stockhausen and Kagel. His early music from 1979 included "_______" for ensemble, of which Kagel wrote: 'Gerald Barry is always sober, but might as well always be drunk. His piece "_______" is, on the contrary, not rectilineal, but 'a very wiggly line'. Also from 1979 is Ø for two pianos in which both pianos play identical music simultaneously.

Barry’s substantial catalogue includes a number of works for orchestra. Chevaux-de-frise for the 1988 BBC Proms, The Conquest of Ireland (1996), Day (2005/14), The Eternal Recurrence (2000), a setting of Nietzsche for voice and orchestra, and Hard D (1995) for the Orkest de Volharding, were all commissioned by the BBC. No other people, was presented at the 2013 Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Ilan Volkov. Canada (2017), a short work for voice and orchestra, was premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and tenor Allan Clayton under Mira Gražinytė-Tyla at the 2017 BBC Proms. Canada received its US premiere at the 2019 Tanglewood Music Festival. Humiliated and Insulted (2016) for chorus and orchestra was co-commissioned by Raidió Teilifís Éireann and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. 

Amongst his orchestral works is a growing body of concertos. Barry’s Piano Concerto (2012), written for Nicolas Hodges and co-commissioned by Musica Viva and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, was premiered in Munich in 2013 with subsequent performances by the CBSO, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, RTÉ National SymphonyOrchestra and at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music conducted by Cristian Măcelaru. Commissioned by the CBSO, London’s Southbank Centre and RTÉ, his Organ Concerto (2018) received its world premiere in March 2018 with the CBSO, followed by performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the RTÉ NSO. The Organ Concerto received its German premiere in Cologne during autumn 2019 with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen conducted by Duncan Ward and also in 2019 was the premiere of Barry's Viola Concerto (2018-19), commissioned by Lawrence Power and performed with the Britten Sinfonia and Thomas Adès. As part of Cellissimo 2022, a fourth concerto for cello was premiered by soloist Adrian Brophy and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra before his most recent concerto, Aus Die bitteren Tranen der Petra von Kant written for Double Bassist Matthew MacDonald and the Berlin Philharmonic, was premiered in June 2022 to rave reviews. 

Several ensemble works have been written for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), including Wiener Blut (2000), Dead March (2007), and Beethoven (2008). London's Southbank Centre commissioned God Save The Queen (2001) for choir and chamber ensemble for the London Sinfonietta as part of the Royal Festival Hall’s 50th birthday celebrations. Le Vieux Sourd (2008) for piano was written for Betty Freeman, Feldman’s Six-Penny Editions (2008/9)was commissioned by London Sinfonietta and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and No people. (2013) was written for ensemble 7Bridges.

Barry is well known for his contribution to the opera repertoire. His first opera The Intelligence Park (1981–88), released as a recording on NMC in 2002, was commissioned by the ICA and first performed at the 1990 Almeida Festival. A new production by Music Theatre Wales opened at Covent Garden in September 2019, followed by performances around the UK throughout the autumn. A second opera, The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit (1991), written for Channel 4 Television, opened the 2002 Aldeburgh Festival, followed by performances in London and the BerlinerFestwochen conducted by Thomas Adés. A new staging took place in 2013 at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (2001–4) was premiered in 2005 in Dublin with subsequent performances at English National Opera that year and at Theater Basel in 2008. The RTÉ NSO recording has been re-released on the discovery label. La Plus Forte (2007), a one-act opera, was commissioned by Radio France for the 2007 Festival Présences. It was premiered by Barbara Hannigan in Paris, and toured to Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Miami, Toronto and Porvoo, Finland. In 2019, Barry created an English version of the work, which was performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Thomas Adès.

Barry’s fifth opera, The Importance of Being Earnest (2009–10), was jointly commissioned by the LA Philharmonic and the Barbican in London and received its world premiere staging at Opéra national de Lorraine – Nancy in 2013.The opera has received a number of new productions notably including at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2013 (since revived in London and given a US premiere at Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic and IlanVolkov) and by Northern Ireland Opera. Earnest received a 2013 RPS Award for Large-Scale Composition and the recording, released on NMC, was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award. A new production by the Nouvel Opéra Fribourgopened in Fribourg and Paris in May 2019. Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (2014-15), premiered in concert in November 2016 with Thomas Adès conducting the LA Phil New Music Group and Barbara Hannigan in the title role. Adès conducted the same cast in the European premiere, with Britten Sinfonia at London’s Barbican Centre. The world premiere staging was given at Covent Garden in February 2020 in a production by Antony McDonald to high acclaim. A new production took place in Magdeburg, Germany in 2023. 

Gerald Barry’s music has been recorded extensively on NMC, Black Box, Marco Polo, BVHaast and Discovery.



geboren in Clarehill, Clarecastle im County Clare in Irland
1960er Jahre
Violin- und Klavierunterricht. Barry verpfändet seine Violine.
Musikstudium am University College in Dublin
Stipendium der niederländischen Regierung für ein Kompositionsstudium bei Peter Schat und für Orgel bei Piet Kee am Konservatorium Amsterdam
Stipendium der dänischen Regierung für ein Studium in Kopenhagen, das Barry nicht wahrnimmt

DAAD-Stipendium für ein Studium bei Stockhausen an der Hochschule für Musik in Köln
Aufnahme des Studiums bei Mauricio Kagel in Köln
Stipendium der österreichischen Regierung für ein Studium in Wien bei Friedrich Cerha, doch es finden nur wenige Treffen statt. Cerha berät ihn in technischen Fragen bei seinem ersten beachteten Werk Things That Gain By Being Painted für Sopran, Sprecher, Cello und Klavier.

'Kitty lie over across from the wall' für Klavier und Orchester
Pendeln zwischen Wien und Köln.
Studium bei Kagel und Arbeit als Kirchenorganist in Köln
'Ø' für zwei Klaviere und '___________' für Ensemble
The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White im Theater am Marienplatz in Krefeld.
Orchestermusik und Lieder für 'Unkrautgarten', ein Ballett von Reinhild Hoffmann für das Tanztheater Bremen

Einspielung von 'Ø' mit dem WDR

Rückkehr nach Dublin

Au Milieu and Sur les Pointes für Klavier
The Intelligence Park, Oper in drei Akten
Lektor am University College Cork
Einstieg beim Verlag Oxford University Press

Streichquartett Nr. 1
From The Intelligence Park für Orchester
Chevaux-de-frise für Orchester (BBC Proms)
Bob für Kammerensemble
Erstaufführung von The Intelligence Park auf dem Almeida Festival in London.
The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, Kammeroper in vier Akten für den Fernsehsender Channel 4
Hard D für Ensemble für das Orkest de Volharding

Klavierquartett Nr. 1

Deutsche Erstaufführung von Bob beim WDR in Köln

From The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit für Orchester
Das BBC “Music Magazine” wählt Barrys Kammermusik-CD zur “NMC Kammermusik-CD 1995” und nominiert sie für den Klassik CD Award

The Conquest of Ireland für Bass-Solo und Orchester für das BBC Symphony Orchestra
La Jalousie Taciturne für Streicher

Klavierquartett Nr. 2
The Road für Orchester für das hr-Sinfonieorchester

CD zu Barrys Orchestermusik erscheint bei Marco Polo
Deutsche Erstaufführung von The Conquest of Ireland bei Musica Viva durch das Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Streichquartett Nr. 2

The Eternal Recurrence für Sopran und Orchester

RTE (Ireland's National Television and Radio Broadcaster) widmet Barrys Musik ein Festival

Wiener Blut für Ensemble für die BBC Proms

God Save the Queen für Kinderchor und Ensemble anlässlich des 50. Geburtstags des Londoner Southbank Centers

Streichquartett Nr. 3 (Sechs Märsche für Streichquartett)

Portraitkonzert des Philharmonia Orchestra in der Londoner Royal Festival Hall
Dead March wird für den Ivors Classical Music Award 2002 nominiert

Featured Composer der Festivals Aldeburgh und Huddersfield 2002

Deutsche Erstaufführung von The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit bei den Berliner Festwochen
L’Agitation des Observateurs, Les Tremblement des Voyeurs für Ensemble

Deutsche Erstaufführung von Chevaux de frise durch das Radio-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt

The Intelligence Park bei NMC veröffentlicht
Erste szenische Aufführung der Oper The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant in fünf Akten in der Englischen Nationaloper
US-Premiere von The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit mit der Los Angeles Philharmonic

Day für Orchester (BBC Symphony Orchestra)

Deutsche Erstaufführung von Wiener Blut (Orchesterversion) durch das Frankfurter Radiosinfonieorchester
Der Einakter La Plus Forte wird beim Festival Présence von Radio France uraufgeführt

Streichquartett Nr. 4 First Sorrow

Porträtkonzerte im Miller Theatre an der Columbia University in New York und im Isabelle Gardner Museum in Boston

Le Vieux Sourd für Klavier im Auftrag von Betty Freeman

Russische Erstauführung von Chevaux de Frise durch das Mariinsky Orchester in St Petersburg
Erstaufführung von The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant in deutscher Sprache am Theater Basel

Lisbon wird für die Music Awards der Royal Philharmonic Society nominiert

US-Erstaufführung von La Plus Forte (New World Symphony Orchestra, Miami)

No other people für Orchester
Verlagsvertrag mit Schott Music

Schott and Sons, Mainz für Bass und Chor

Feldman's Sixpenny Editions für Ensemble
Nationale Erstaufführungen von La Plus Forte in Kanada, den Niederlanden und Großbritannien

CD von bisher unveröffentlichten Werken (Things That Gain By Being Painted, Kitty lie over across from the wall, L’Agitation des Observateurs, Les Tremblement des Voyeurs, Chevaux de frise) erscheint in der Zeitschrift Boulevard Magenta 2 (The Irish Museum of Modern Art), inklusive Skizzen für die Oper The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
Uraufführung von The Importance of Being Earnest, Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles
konzertante Aufführung von The Importance of Being Earnest in London, Barbican Hall (nationale Erstaufführung, United Kingdom)

Szenische Uraufführung von The Importance of Being Earnest in Nancy an der Opéra national de Lorraine


RPS Award für The Importance of Being Earnest in der Kategorie "großformatige Komposition"


Konzertante Uraufführung von Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (2014/15) mit der LA  Phil New Music Group unter der Leitung von Thomas Adès


Uraufführung von Canada für Gesang und Orchester bei den BBC Proms mit dem City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla und Tenor Allan Clayton