Journals Higher Education

Howard Skempton

b. 1947

'Skempton's harmony is nothing if not explicit and precise, and he wrings maximum effect from a pared minimum of matter . . . The pieces contain nothing they do not need, and nothing could be subtracted without loss . . . Skempton composes essences, and they go straight to the heart.'


'His roots in the British experimental movement give him an exceptionally keen focus on his material, so that each piece is like applying a Webernian microscrope to familiar, tonal musical objects.'

Music Teacher

View works by Howard Skempton


Composer News

Howard Skempton's latest choral work, Poems of Love and War was premiered by Nottingham University Chamber Choir in autumn 2019. In this 8-minute unaccompanied work Howard sets nine ancient Viking poems, (translated into English by Judith Jesch), with sparsity, drama and warmth. The war poems are formal and celebratory, while the love poems are more direct, and at times playful.

Composer Biography

Born in Chester in 1947, Howard Skempton has worked as a composer, accordionist, and music publisher. Renowned for the distinctive clarity of his musical language, he has composed over 300 pieces, many of which are miniatures for solo piano or accordion. His orchestral and instrumental works have been recorded by, among others, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Ensemble Bash. In recent years, Skempton has concentrated increasingly on writing vocal and choral music; his choral commissions include works for the BBC Singers and the Belfast Philharmonic Society. He is currently an Honorary Professor of Music at De Montfort University.

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