Alexander Goehr

In this interview, Alexander Goehr talks about the life and career of his father Walter Goehr, music at Morley College during and after the war as well as the work and importance of émigré musicians including Hans Ferdinand Redlich, Mátyás Seiber, Roberto Gerhard, Leopold Spinner and Paul Hamburger.He also discusses the influence of émigrés like Walter Bergmann, Hans Keller, Alfred Kalmus, Erwin Stein and Ernst Roth on music publishing.


Born in Berlin in 1932, Alexander Goehr moved to London when just a few months old to be surrounded by the highest quality of music from an early age. Being the son of the conductor Walter Goehr (student of Arnold Schoenberg and later musical director of EMI), Alexander was always exposed to new music, with many different composers frequenting the Goehr household.

He studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now known as the Royal Northern College of Music), and together with Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies and John Ogdon he formed the New Music Manchester Group. After finishing his studies in Manchester, Alexander moved to Paris where he briefly studied with Messiaen, and also became associated with Boulez and the serialist movement.

It was not until the late 1950s after moving back to the UK that Goehr formed his distinct compositional style, in which he synthesises both serialism and tonality. Goehr's most known musical medium has been from his writing of five operas; Arden Must Die, Behold the Sun, Arianna, Kantan & Damask Drum and Promised End.

Alexander Goehr on the website of his publisher, Schott

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