Andrew TooveyPhotography by Morgan Hayes, digitally painted by Nichal Aracchande

"Toovey consciously places himself outside what he regards as useless or outmoded conventions, whilst reserving the right to draw on, allude to, shoplift from absolutely anywhere. Not only are Toovey's musical sympathies unusually diverse and deliberately unaligned to the readymade categories of our recent past (minimalism, neo-Romanaticism, new complexity), but the fundamental stylistic "gesture" can be as readily compared to the visual arts as to any music- to the work of Robet Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg or Stanley Hayter." (Michael Finnissy)

"Toovey's music is unapologetically complex, though personal and powerful too." (The Times)


Dr Andrew Toovey (b London 1962) studied composition with Jonathan Harvey, Michael Finnissy and briefly with Morton Feldman. After completing his BMus degree at Surrey University he gained an MA and MPhil at the University of Sussex, specialising in composition and aesthetics. His PGCE studies in secondary school teaching were undertaken at the Institute of Education, University of London and his PhD in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, having been awarded an M3C (Midland Three Cities) research grant for his studies.

Toovey's work embraces widely diverse influences, from music such as that by Feldman and Finnissy, or from the poetry of Artaud, Cummings and Rilke, and reflects his passion for 20th-century visual art, especially that by Bacon, Beuys, Davies, Hayter, Klee, Miro, Newman, Rauschenberg, Riley, Rothko and the Outsider Artists. It has been performed throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and has featured at the Bergen, Brighton, Gaudeamus, Huddersfield and ISCM festivals and at the Darmstadt and Dartington International Summer Schools. It is also frequently broadcast, on BBC Radio 3 and by various European radio stations.

Toovey, who has been Artistic Director of the new music ensemble IXION since 1987, was associate composer with the Young Concert Artists Trust (YCAT) from 1993-5 and he was composer-in-residence at the Banff Centre, Canada for four years, writing two operas and other music theatre works in that time. His education work includes projects for Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Huddersfield Festival, the South Bank Centre and the London Festival Orchestra, and he has been composer-in-residence at Opera Factory and the South Bank Summer School. He teaches composition regularly at Benslow Music, also taught secondary school music in a part-time capacity, now teaching composition (at Undergraduate, MMus and PhD level) at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

His many awards include the Tippett Prize, Terra Nova Prize, the Bernard Shore Viola Composition Award and an RVW Trust Award. Largo released two portrait CDs of his music (Including the orchestral piece Red Icon and the opera The Juniper Tree) in 1998. Many other pieces appear individually on CD labels such as NMC, ABC Classics, Nova, BMIC, ABRSM, Sound Circus and Kairos Music. Some of his music is published by Boosey and Hawkes, while pieces can be heard on his own YouTube channel or on his website where scores can be viewed and downloaded at www.andrewtoovey.co.uk.

In a Tempo Magazine profile article Michael Finnissy wrote: “Toovey consciously places himself outside what he regards as useless or outmoded conventions, whilst reserving the right to draw on, allude to, shoplift from absolutely anywhere. Not only are Toovey’s musical sympathies unusually diverse and deliberately unaligned to the ready-made categories of our recent past (minimalism, neo-Romanticism, new complexity), but the fundamental stylistic “gesture” can be as readily compared to the visual arts as to any music - to the work of Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg or Stanley Hayter”

Since 1982 he has written over 100 pieces for orchestra, large ensemble, chamber groups and many solo instruments as well as opera. Recent works include Verboten, Holding You and Euonia (a self-contained group of ensemble pieces), First Out, Preludes and Schrott, all for solo piano, the sequence ‘The way it is now’ for voice and viola, Contrecto for harmonium and tabla (there is also a version for violin and harmonium) and Pump Triptych for solo clarinet. He has just completed a chamber opera based on James Purdy’s novel Narrow Rooms to a libretto by Michael Finnissy.



Download Chinese biography of Andrew Toovey

"Tempo" article on Andrew Toovey by Michael Finnissy (1992)  Download PDF

Master of Philosophy (MPhil.) commentary - An early reference and reflection of pieces written during the 1986/7 period including Veiled 1 and 2, Untitled String Quartet, Winter Solstice, Cantec, Ate, Artaud and Shining Forth. Download PDF


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