Gerald Barry was born in Ireland in 1952 and studied composition with Stockhausen and Kagel. He first came to public attention in 1979 with his radical ensemble works ‘__________’ and ‘ÃƒËœ’.
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. It received its North American première with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2006, followed by performances in Paris, Amsterdam, and New York in 2007-2008.
In 1997 The Road was written for the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra gave the German première of The Conquest of Ireland in 1998.
Barry has enjoyed a long assocation with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, for whom he wrote Wiener Blut, Dead March, and Beethoven. Wiener Blut, commissioned by the BCMG for the 2000 Aldeburgh Festival, received its London première at the 2000 BBC Proms, and the work has since received numerous performances both in the UK and abroad. 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.
Barry’s music has been performed at the Warsaw Autumn, Musik Triennale Köln, Musica Viva, Festival Présences, Huddersfield and St Denis Festivals, the ISCM and many others. His music has been recorded on the NMC, Largo, Black Box, Marco Polo and Challenge labels.
In 2005 the stage première of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (recorded on RTE) was given at English National Opera and the German language première was given at the Basle Opera in May 2008. La Plus Forte (The Stronger), a one-act opera on the Strindberg play commissioned by Radio France for the 2007 Festival Présences received its Irish première in 2008, and will be performed by The New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami in December 2008.
Recent commissions include First Sorrow for Crash Ensemble, premièred in October 2007, and a work for bass voice and ensemble for the BCMG, based on letters of Beethoven, which was premièred in March 2008. His most recent music has been commissioned by Betty Freeman (Le Vieux Sourd for piano) and RTE (No other people for orchestra).
There is more information about Gerald Barry and his music on the Irish Contemporary Music Centre website.
Since September 2009, new commissions have been handled by Schott Music.
Listen to an excerpt from The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant on the Irish Contemporary Music Centre website.
Hear more by Gerald Barry on NMC Recordings