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Gerald Barry (composer)

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Name  Gerald Barry
Role  Composer

Albums  Things That Gain
Gerald Barry (composer) Stock Photography image of Gerald Barry portrait of the
Books  The Intelligence Park: A Opera in Three Acts, The Sailor's Snug Harbor
Nominations  Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Similar People  Birmingham Contemporary Music Gr, Thomas Ades, Barbara Hannigan, David Sawer, Kevin Volans

Education  University College Dublin

Gerald Barry (born 28 April 1952) is an Irish composer.


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Life and works

Gerald Barry (composer) South Florida Classical Review 15 illegal minutes with

Gerald Barry was born in Clarehill, Clarecastle, County Clare, and was educated at St. Flannan's College, Ennis. He studied music at University College Dublin, at Amsterdam with Peter Schat, at Cologne with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel and at Vienna with Friedrich Cerha. He taught at University College Cork from 1982 to 1986. Growing up in rural Clare, he had little exposure to music except through the radio: "The thing that was the lightning flash for me, in terms of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, would have been an aria from a Handel opera, from Xerxes maybe, that I heard on the radio. I heard this woman singing this, and bang – my head went. And that was how I discovered music."

Gerald Barry (composer) barry03121jpg

"Barry's is a world of sharp edges, of precisely defined yet utterly unpredictable musical objects. His music sounds like no one else's in its diamond-like hardness, its humour, and sometimes, its violence." He often conceives of material independently of its instrumental medium, recycling ideas from piece to piece, as in the reworking of Triorchic Blues from a violin to a piano piece to an aria for countertenor in his opera The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit:

It seemed to me unprecedented: the combination of the ferociously objective treatment of the material and the intense passion of the working-out, and both at an extreme of brilliance. And the harmony – that there was harmony at all, and that it was so beautiful and lapidary. It functions, again, irrationally, but powerfully, to build tension and to create structure. It wasn't just repetitive. It builds. And the virtuosity, the display of it, that combination of things seemed, to me, to be new, and a major way forward.

His most recent opera, The Importance of Being Earnest, has become a huge success after its world premiere at Los Angeles and European premiere at the Barbican, London. A critic comments:

He writes "what he likes" in the way Strindberg does, not trying to characterise his characters, but letting them perform his own specialities, a kind of platform for his own musical specialities. As in Strindberg where you feel every sentence stands for itself and the characters are sort of borrowed for the use of saying them (borrowed to flesh out the text, rather than the other way round), that they've been out for the day. In Gerald's opera the whole apparatus - for that's what it is - takes on a kind of surrealistic shape, like one person's torso on someone else's legs being forced to walk, half the characters in the opera and half the composer.


  • The Intelligence Park, libretto by Vincent Deane (1990)
  • The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, libretto by Meredith Oaks (1991–92)
  • The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, based on the play (later a film) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (2005)
  • La Plus Forte, a one-act opera for soprano and orchestra based on Strindberg's play (2007)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, libretto by Gerald Barry after Oscar Wilde (2010)
  • Alice's Adventures Underground, libretto by Gerald Barry after Lewis Carroll (2014/15)
  • Selected other works

  • Things that Gain by Being Painted for soprano, speaker, cello and piano (1977)
  • Things That Gain for piano (1977)
  • '_____' for ensemble (1979)
  • ø for 2 pianos (1979)
  • Kitty Lie Over Across From The Wall for piano and orchestra (1979)
  • Sur les Pointes for piano (1981)
  • Au Milieu for piano (1981)
  • O Lord How Vain for choir (1984)
  • Five Chorales from The Intelligence Park for two pianos (1985)
  • From The Intelligence Park for orchestra (1986)
  • Swinging Tripes and Trillibubkins for piano (1986)
  • Water Parted from The Intelligence Park for soprano or countertenor and piano (1986)
  • String Quartet No. 1 (1985)
  • Chevaux-de-frise for orchestra (1988)
  • Bob for ensemble (1989)
  • Triorchic Blues for piano (1991)
  • Sextet for ensemble (1993)
  • From The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit for orchestra (1994)
  • Triorchic Blues for solo trumpet (1994)
  • The Chair for organ (1994)
  • Piano Quartet No. 1 (1994)
  • The Conquest of Ireland for solo bass voice and orchestra (1995)
  • Quintet for cor anglais, clarinet, cello, double bass and piano (1994)
  • Low for clarinet and piano (1995)
  • Piano Quartet No. 2 (1996)
  • Before The Road for four clarinets (1997)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1998)
  • 1998 for violin and piano (1998)
  • The Eternal Recurrence, a setting of Nietzsche for soprano and orchestra (1999)
  • The Coming of Winter for choir (2000)
  • Wiener Blut for large ensemble (2000)
  • Wiener Blut for orchestra (2000)
  • String Quartet No. 3 (Six Marches) (2001)
  • Snow is White for piano quartet (2001)
  • God Save the Queen for solo boy's voice, choir and large ensemble (2001)
  • Dead March for large ensemble (2001)
  • In the Asylum for piano trio (2003)
  • Trumpeter for solo trumpet (2003)
  • Day for orchestra (versions for strings and full orchestra (2005)
  • Lisbon for piano and ensemble (2006)
  • First Sorrow (String Quartet No. 4) (2006
  • Karl Heinz Stockhausen (1928–2007) for voice and piano (2008)
  • Feldman's Sixpenny Editions for large ensemble (2008)
  • Le Vieux Sourd for piano (2008)
  • Beethoven for bass voice and large ensemble (2008)
  • No other people for orchestra (2009)
  • Schott and Sons, Mainz for solo bass voice and choir (2009)
  • Piano Concerto (2012)
  • O Tannenbaum for choir or voice and piano (2012)
  • No People for ensemble (nonet) (2013)
  • Humiliated and Insulted for piano (2013)
  • Baroness von Ritkart for orchestra or any number of instruments: 1 - Clever, noble, but not talented. 2 - Talented, noble, but not clever. 3 - Talented, clever, but not noble. (2014)
  • Crossing the Bar for voice and any instruments or orchestra (2014)
  • The Destruction of Sodom for 8 horns and 2 wind machines (2015)
  • Recordings

  • Gerald Barry: Chamber and Solo Piano Works. Nua Nós, Noriko Kawai (piano), Dáirine Ní Mheadhra (conductor): NMC DO22 (1994).
  • Barry. Orchestral Works. National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Robert Houlohan (conductor): Marco Polo 8.225006 (1997).
  • The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit. Soloists, Composers Ensemble, Diego Masson: Largo 5135 (1998).
  • Things That Gain. Music for piano, 2 pianos, chamber and vocal music. Gerald Barry and Kevin Volans (pianos), Xenia Ensemble. Nicholas Clapton (countertenor): Black Box Music BBM 1011 (1998).
  • La Jalousie Taciturne. Irish Chamber Orchestra, Fionnuala Hunt (conductor): Black Box Music BBM 1013 (1998).
  • Snow is White. The Schubert Ensemble: NMC D075 (2001).
  • In the Asylum. Trio Fibonacci: NMC D107 (2005).
  • The Intelligence Park. Almeida Ensemble, Robert Houlihan (conductor): NMC D122 (2005).
  • The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Soloists, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Gerhard Markson (conductor): RTÉ 261 (2005).
  • Triorchic Blues for trumpet. Marco Blaauw (trumpet): BV Haast Records CD 0406 (2006).
  • Lisbon. Thomas Adès (piano), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: Contemporary Music Centre CMC CD08 (2009).
  • Lady Bracknell's Song, from The Importance of Being Earnest. Gerald Barry (voice & piano): NMC D150 (2009).
  • The Chair for organ. David Adams (self-produced, 2008).
  • The Importance of Being Earnest. Soloists, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Thomas Adès (conductor): NMC D197 (2014).
  • Barry meets Beethoven. Soloists, Chamber Choir Ireland, Crash Ensemble, Paul Hillier (conductor): Orchid Classics ORC 100055 (2016).
  • References

    Gerald Barry (composer) Wikipedia

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