Gerald Barry
Photo: Betty Freeman

Gerald Barry
(b. 1952)

'"Gerald Barry is a composer of strange and rare device"
(Paul Driver, The Sunday Times)'

Gerald Barry
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Gerald Barry was born in Ireland in 1952 and after completing studies at University College Dublin went to Amsterdam and later Cologne to continue his studies. His time in Germany, where he studied with Stockhausen and Kagel proved to be a liberating experience and he soon came to public attention in 1979 with radical ensemble works "__________" and Ø.

Many of his works have been commissioned by the BBC, including Chevaux-de-frise for the Ulster Orchestra at the 1988 Proms, The Conquest of Ireland and Day for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Eternal Recurrence, a setting of Nietzsche for voice and orchestra, and Hard D for the Orkest de Volharding. Chevaux-de-frise was given its Russian première by the Mariinsky Orchestra in 2007.

Barry's first opera The Intelligence Park (recorded on NMC), commissioned by the ICA, was first performed at the 1990 Almeida Festival, and a second opera, The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, written for Channel 4 Television, opened the 2002 Aldeburgh Festival, followed by performances in London and the Berliner Festwochen conducted by Thomas Adés. A new staging will take place in 2013 at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. In 2005 The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (recorded on RTE) was given at English National Opera and in 2007 at the Basle Opera. La Plus Forte (The Stronger), a one-act opera on the Strindberg play was commissioned by Radio France for the 2007 Festival Présences. Sung by Barbara Hannigan, it toured to Amsterdam, London, Dublin, Miami and Toronto.

Barry has enjoyed a long assocation with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, for whom he wrote Wiener Blut, Dead March, and Beethoven. God Save The Queen for choir and the London Sinfonietta was commissioned by London's South Bank Centre for the fiftieth birthday of the Royal Festival Hall in 2001.

Recent works include First Sorrow (string quartet) for Crash Ensemble, Beethoven (bass voice and ensemble) for BCMG, Le Vieux Sourd for piano commissioned by Betty Freeman, Feldman's Sixpenny Editions for the London Sinfonietta and St Paul Chamber Orchestra and Schott and Sons, Mainz, for Bass voice and Choir, an account of the relationship between Beethoven and Schott in his last years.
The Bavarian RSO gave the German premiere of The Conquest of Ireland in 1998.

His fifth opera, The Importance of Being Earnest, was written for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Barbican, London. Stagings are planned in 2013 and 2014 for the Opera Nationale de Lorraine - Nancy, The Royal Opera House Linbury, Opera Northern Ireland and the New York City Opera.

Musica Viva, Munich, has commissioned a piano concerto for November 2013.

Barry's music has been recorded on the NMC, Largo, Black Box, Marco Polo, BVHaast and RTE labels.

(biography © Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland)

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