Jonathan David LITTLE (b.1965; Nationality: British/Australian), B.Mus.(Hons.)(Melb.), Th.A.(Aust.Coll.Theol.), Ph.D., F.I.S.M., F.R.S.A.

Former John Clementi Collard Fellow in Music of The Worshipful Company of Musicians (est.1500)


The atmospheric and evocative music of Jonathan David Little is characterised by its mystical beauty, intensity, and richness of material. On the strength of the excellence of both his music, and of his writings on music, Little was the first Australian-born composer to be awarded the John Clementi Collard Fellowship (2011), one of the most prestigious awards of The City of London’s ancient Worshipful Company of Musicians [est.1500]. He was also the first composer to receive a Professional Development Award from the UK music business’s own charity, the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund (2008). In 2015, Jonathan received an inaugural major Australian Government / Australia Council “Individual International Arts Project Award”, to help fund the creation and recording of an album of multi-part, a cappella polychoral music (Woefully Arrayed, 2017). US Fanfare reported: “Woefully Arrayed is a masterpiece … radiant”; Gramophone called it “masterly” and “luminous”, while Choir & Organ (UK) argued that “Little writes very much in the manner of the Renaissance masters, creating what a modern sensibility would identify as 'immersive' music of strongly mystical aspect”. It was subsequently nominated for "Best Classical Music Recording" at the inaugural 2018 RoundGlass Global Music Awards (New York). Little was also one of only seven composers whose “outstanding works” were selected for the Royal Philharmonic Society’s “ENCORE Choral” Programme (UK) – for performance and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 during 2017-18. In October 2016, he was selected to participate in a BBC Singers' Choral Music Workshop led by Judith Weir, Master of the Queen's Music.

Interviewed in the Sept-Oct 2012 issue of American Fanfare, UK music producer and publisher Martin Anderson defined Little's musical style as “Ecstatic Minimalism” – blending art music, folk/Celtic, and other sacred and secular musical influences, from as far back as the fourteenth century, with new and innovative textures and orchestration (sometimes also including spatial effects). Italian and other European critics have preferred the more general terms “Antique Futurism” or “Picturesque Archaism”. In March 2016, Little was Featured Composer at the CNU Contemporary Music Festival – including a showcase concert of his works in the Music and Theatre Hall, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Virginia, USA. In early 2017, he received Special Distinction in the ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize (USA) - one of the concert music world’s most prestigious awards (for the large-scale orchestral showpiece, Terpsichore).

Little studied music at the University of Melbourne, winning the Lady Turner Exhibition, then undertook a PhD at Monash University studying the development of “exotic” orchestration in 19th- and 20th-century music. A former Prefect of the Australian National Boys’ Choir and member of the Australian Youth Orchestra (participating in the 1988 Grand Bicentennial European Tour), Little performed with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and for new music workshops of the Australian Opera.

Little’s compositions have won multiple Critics’ Choice awards in the USA, as well as PRS, Bliss and Leighton Trust Awards in the UK. His first major album, Terpsichore, was one of Fanfare magazine’s top recommended recordings for 2008 – acclaiming “a major new, original and quite brilliant classical voice” – while his 2012 album, Polyhymnia, featuring several European orchestras, was nominated in Spain for “Best Album of the Year”. The title work is part of a series of epic orchestral tone pictures on the theme of the legendary Nine Muses (the complete series remains a monumental work-in-progress). Cambridge University Press's new music journal Tempo reported that “Polyhymnia conjures up a heart-rending panorama: it is immensely poetic, almost otherworldly, and employs an exceptionally hypnotic array of musical colour”. He was subsequently awarded a PRSF/Bliss Trust Composer Bursary in 2012.

Amongst his writings, Little was Consultant and Contributing Editor to A&C Black’s flagship volume of musical reference, the Musicians’ and Songwriters’ Yearbook (with Forewords by the Heads of EMI Music Publishing, and of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), and he has contributed articles on the future of music and of the music industry to the British Academy’s official guide to songwriting, Heart and Soul, and to the Hudson Institute's influential and respected American Outlook magazine. In 2010, Little was recipient of an Authors’ Foundation / Royal Literary Fund Award for his “vast” and “erudite” two-volume, 950-page survey of musical and literary Orientalism, and he won a second such award in 2016.

From 2001 to 2005, Little was Principal of the UK’s Academy of Contemporary Music, which was, at that time, Europe’s leading institution for students of contemporary music and the first music education institution to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation Category). He was subsequently appointed to the inaugural dual title of Professor of Music Composition and Music History at the University of Chichester. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

Photos by David Galloway (2005)


Jonathan David Little