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Elliott Gyger : Represented Artist

I believe that every piece needs to break new ground for me – otherwise I would stop growing as an artist. Composing is always an aspirational act, and this is embodied in the character of the music I write: restless, intense, expressive, reaching for transcendence.

Random Audio Sample: Un poilu Australien (duos: mezzo-soprano, bass with chamber ensemble) by Elliott Gyger, from the CD War letters

Photo of Elliott Gyger

Photo: David Ellis


Elliott Gyger was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1968, and began writing music at about the age of ten. His composition teachers have included Ross Edwards, Peter Sculthorpe, Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Sydney (1990) and a PhD in Music from Harvard University (2002). His awards have included the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Fellowship, the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and commission grants from the Australia Council and the Fromm Foundation.

Elliott Gyger's music essays a synthesis of some of the bewildering diversity within Western art music of the late 20th and early 21st century. Grounded in the structural rigour of high modernism, it is concerned with the nexus between harmony and instrumental/vocal gesture. His instrumental works typically explore dramatic interactions between soloists and groups, whether in an orchestral or chamber context. His substantial vocal and choral output is similarly multilayered, with many pieces setting texts in multiple languages.

Among his orchestral and large ensemble works are concertos for E flat clarinet, celesta, tenor saxophone and prepared piano, as well as a Concerto for Orchestra premiered by WASO in 2022. His 'dialogue for orchestra' on air (2011) was awarded the Sydney Symphony 80th Anniversary Composition Prize. His long-standing collaboration with Sydney ensemble Halcyon has resulted in seven vocal chamber works to date, two of which have won the Paul Lowin Song Cycle Award: giving voice (2012), for mezzo-soprano and five instruments, and Autobiochemistry (2019), for mezzo-soprano and cello. He has also collaborated with librettist Pierce Wilcox on two critically acclaimed works for Sydney Chamber Opera: Fly Away Peter (2015), after David Malouf, and Oscar and Lucinda (2019), adapted from Peter Carey.

Gyger is also active as a conductor, teacher and writer on new music. He was Assistant Professor of Music at Harvard from 2002 to 2007, and has taught at the University of Melbourne since 2008, where he is currently Professor of Music (Composition). He has been a tutor for young composer development programs with Halcyon, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and National Music Camp. He has written extensively on Australian composer Nigel Butterley, including a book on his music published by Wildbird Press in April 2015.

Elliott Gyger — current to December 2022

Influenced by

Nigel Butterley


Studied with

Ross Edwards

Peter Sculthorpe


Teacher/Influence on

Michael Bakrnčev

Jakob Bragg (2016 - 2018)

Zinia Chan

Lisa Cheney (2015 - 2023)

Kym Alexandra Dillon

Joseph Franklin (2020 - 2023)

Lewis Ingham (2018 - current)

May Lyon

Robert McIntyre (2019)

Scott McIntyre (2008 - 2009)

Thomas Misson

Charlie Sdraulig (2007 - 2008)

Harry Sdraulig (2013 - 2016)

Sam Smith (2013 - 2016)

Jane Stanley

Jack Symonds

Mark Viggiani (2008 - current)

Nicholas Vines (2001)

Chris Williams

Chris Williams (2010)

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Star trail (solo piano) Composed in response to Julian Yu's call for variations on 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star'
Strands II Composed to honour De Eric Gross, upon his retirement from the position of Associate Professor in the Music Dept at Sydney University
Digital sheet music sample Elude : for solo bassoon (2021) commissioned by the Australian National Academy of Music as part of the ANAM Set (2021)
Digital sheet music sample time line : for solo piano (2021) Commissioned by Alex Raineri.
Digital sheet music sample Concerto for Orchestra : full orchestra (2020) commissioned for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra by Geoff Stearn
Oscar and Lucinda (chamber opera) (2019) Commissioned by Opera Queensland, Victorian Opera, Sydney Chamber Opera.

Analysis & Media

- Article: Rough Beast, Couth Clouds

- Document: Harbour Noise is a Fatal Distraction

- Program note: Flower Songs Ross Edwards

- Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies

- Program note: Silence

- Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies 2 October 1993

- Review: The Song Company Haunted Lullabies 2 October 1993

- Review: Spring International Festival of New Music 16 October 1993

- Program note: FICTA

- Review: The Song Company Ten Years 1984-1994 21 August 1994

- Review: The Song Company ten Years 1984-1994 21 August 1994

- Review: The Song Company ten years 1984 - 1994 21 August 1994

- Video: Elliott Gyger on composition - In conversation with...

- Video: Elliott Gyger on Giving Voice: Working with text - In conversation with...

- Video: Elliott Gyger on Giving Voice: Ensembles - In Conversation With...

- Video: From the hungry waiting country (Part 1: Wet), by Elliott Gyger

- Video: From the hungry waiting country (Part 2: Dry), by Elliott Gyger

- Video: Elliott Gyger on Vocal Chamber Music - In Conversation With...

- Video: Elliott Gyger on Setting Text - In Conversation With...