Alexander Goehr


Alexander Goehr (1932-) was an English composer born in Berlin. He studied composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music where, upon meeting Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and two other composers, the group of composers formed New Music Manchester. Between 1955 and 1956, Goehr moved to Paris to study with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, where he met Pierre Boulez and became interested in serialism for a short period of time before rejecting it over what he thought of as the "cult-like" culture around the serialist avant-garde that rejected any kind of repetition.

On return to Britain, he had a breakthrough with the performance of his cantata The Deluge in 1957, seemingly inspired by the cantatas of Webern. Goehr continued writing choral music, for which he developed a more flexible way of using the 12-tone method, by combining it with modality. This was his primary technique for writing music for the next 14 years. His music follows thematic and contrapuntal logic, inspired by the First and Second Viennese Schools.