Robin Holloway

Robin Holloway in front of his Cambridge studio front door (2016). Photo by Michael Daugherty

Robin Greville Holloway (born 19 October 1943) is an English composer, academic and writer.

Early life[]

Holloway was born in Leamington Spa. From 1953 to 1957, he was a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral and was educated at King's College School.[1][2] He attended King's College, Cambridge and studied composition with Bayan Northcott.


In 1974, Holloway became an Assistant Lecturer in Music at the University of Cambridge, and in 1980 attained a full Lecturer position. In 1999, he became a reader in Musical Composition at Cambridge and, between 2001 and his retirement in 2011, Professor of Musical Composition. He is also a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Among his many pupils are Thomas Adès, Huw Watkins, Peter Seabourne, David Collins, George Benjamin, Judith Weir, and Jonathan Dove.

Holloway's doctoral thesis Debussy and Wagner (later published as a book by Eulenburg), discussed a close relationship between music and language as well as romanticism and tonality. This can be heard in his own works, such as Scenes from Schumann (1969–70), the opera Clarissa (1976) premiered in 1990 at English National Opera under the baton of Oliver Knussen, and Seascape and Harvest (1983-4) composed for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle.[3]

Holloway contributed a regular music column to The Spectator magazine between 1988 and 2010. Two collections of his journalistic and other occasional writings have been compiled and published, as On Music: Essays and Diversions 1963-2003 (Continuum Press, 2003 hdbk/2005 pbk, ISBN 0-8264-7629-5) and Essays & Diversions II (Continuum Press, 2008, ISBN 0-8264-9728-4).

Holloway has been described as a "neo-romantic" composer, reflecting his own affinity for music of the last part of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries.[4][5] While some of his works do conform to this description, others evince a more complex, nuanced, and at times ironic relationship to music of the past, verging on the post-modern. According to fellow composer David Matthews, his "individual style has been formed by a productive conflict between Romanticism and Modernism."[6]

Holloway's Fifth Concerto for Orchestra was premiered at The Proms in 2011.[7]

In 1994 his Second Concerto for Orchestra, released by NMC, won a Gramophone Award.



  1. ^ "Robin Holloway, University of Cambridge, Faculty of Music". Archived from the original on 2012-06-08.
  2. ^ Northcott, Bayan, "Robin Holloway" (August 1974). The Musical Times, 115 (1578): pp. 644-646
  3. ^ "Robin Holloway Biography". Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
  4. ^ Bye, Antony, "Acts of Possession" (October 1993). The Musical Times, 134 (1808): pp. 567-568, 570
  5. ^ Pauline Fairclough, "Holloway 60th Birthday" (concert review). The Guardian, 22 October 2003
  6. ^ Matthews, David (1993), [notes to CD NMC D015M], NMC Recordings
  7. ^ "Prom 27: Robin Holloway, Strauss & Brahms". BBC Music Events.
  8. ^ Whittall, Arnold, "Reviews of Music: New British Chamber Music" (July 1977). Music & Letters, 58 (3): pp. 380-381
  9. ^ Bye, Antony, "Holloway's Clarissa" (May 1990). The Musical Times, 131 (1767): pp. 243-244, 246
  10. ^ Gallagher, David, "First Performances: Clarissa at the Coliseum" (September 1990). Tempo (New Ser.), 174: pp. 21-22
  11. ^ Knussen, Oliver, "Robin Holloway's Romanza" (1978). Tempo (New Ser.), 126: p. 54
  12. ^ Hewett, Ivan, Review of recording of Robin Holloway: Second Concerto for Orchestra (*1994). The Musical Times, 135 (1815): p. 301
  13. ^ Tom Service, "Philharmonia/Brabbins/Dohnanyi" (concert review). The Guardian, 11 October 2003
  14. ^ Holloway, Robin, "Fishing in Ruffled Lakes" (April *1996). The Musical Times, 137 (1838): pp. 5-9
  15. ^ Andrew Clements, "Holloway: Gilded Goldbergs" (CD review). The Guardian, 17 January 2003
  16. ^ Tom Service, "Nash Ensemble, BBC Singers" (concert review). The Guardian, 6 October 2003
  17. ^ Rian Evans, "Okeanos/Schubert Ensemble" (concert review). The Guardian, 7 September 2005
  18. ^ Joshua Kosman, "Big audio dynamite -- Holloway a huge undertaking for Symphony". San Francisco Chronicle, 3 February 2007
  19. ^ "Robin Holloway - Europa & the Bull".
  20. ^ Rowe, Georgia (2017-03-24). "Tuba takes center stage at San Francisco Symphony". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2018-03-25.

External links[]