Harry, Professor Martyn


Martyn Harry

Tutor in Music
Dorset Foundation Lecturer in Music
Annie Barnes Fellow in Music

Email: martyn.harry@music.ox.ac.uk


Personal Website
Academic Background

Martyn Harry studied Composition with Alexander Goehr as part of his BA at Cambridge University, and Music Theatre Composition with Mauricio Kagel in Cologne on a DAAD scholarship. He has an Associate Diploma in Performance and Communications Studies from the Guildhall School of Music, and a PhD in Composition from City University where he studied with Simon Emmerson, Michael Finnissy, Douglas Young and Robert Saxton.


From 1993 to 1996, Martyn was the Executive Producer, New Music, for the international recording company Sony Classical.

From 1997 to 1999 he worked for the Arts Council of England as a consultant for its Recordings and Publications scheme, and as an assessor for lottery-funded schemes.

Between 2000 and 2003 Martyn also orchestrated a number of Hollywood film scores such as the music for Insomnia,  Happy Here and NowSpivsInside I’m Dancing and The Descent.

From 2000 to 2003 Martyn was the Northern Arts Composer Fellow, based at the University of Durham, and became Head of Compositional Studies at the music department of Durham University in 2003.

He took up his present post at Oxford as a university lecturer at the Faculty of Music in 2009.


These teaching areas may change from year to year, and my overall research interests may provide a better guide to what I teach in future years.


  • Contemporary classical composition
  • Musical techniques and aesthetic ideas pertaining to contemporary music in general and music post-1945
  • Opera and Music Theatre, with particular emphasis on the ‘instrumental theatre’ of Mauricio Kagel
  • 19th-Century and 20th-Century music
  • Music Analysis
  • Electroacoustic music

  • Contemporary classical composition (see research interests)
  • Opera and Music Theatre (see research interests)
  • In the forthcoming year I will be convening a new MSt course entitled ‘The Prospects for New Music’, which considers the influence of a number of factors on the development of contemporary classical music (aesthetics, recording companies, arts funding bodies, new technologies)
Research Interests

  • Contemporary Classical Composition (Instrumental, Orchestral, Vocal)
  • Music Theatre (inspired by the early ‘instrumental theatre’ of Mauricio Kagel)
  • Contemporary Opera and non-text-based Theatre
  • Operatic works for performance to children (primary and secondary schools)
  • Music with Film (experimental and mainstream)
  • Early Minimalist and post-Minimalist Music (Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Steve Reich, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julie Wolfe and Bang on a Can)
  • Music from the Former Soviet Union (Silvestrov, Kancheli, Korndorf, Schnittke)
  • Recording companies and Contemporary Classical music
  • Contemporary music and changing approaches to Arts Funding
  • Music of the German post-avant-garde (Lachenmann, Stabler, Oehring)
  • Contemporary British music (music of all kinds)
Selected Work

Martyn Harry’s compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the London Sinfonietta, Northern Sinfonia, Allegri Quartet, Eos, Piano Circus, Psappha, the New Music Players and the BBC Singers and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, NDR 3 and WDR 3.

Instrumental Works

  • Ozymandias for cello and piano
  • Fantasy Unbuttoned for 19 players
  • Regenstimmen for solo harp
  • Still Life
  • Taking Leave of a Friend
  • Signal Failure
  • The Enigma of Arrival
  • George Meets Arnie For Tennis
  • Chamber Intimacy
  • The Spell at Hall 2
Music Theatre

  • Restraint for Handcuffed Pianist
  • The End of the Line for three singers and four players
  • Signal Failure for actors, ensemble and computer graphics.
  • He has also composed a number of children’s operas in conjunction with Theatre Hullabaloo

  • SOUTH, an innovative project combining elements of opera and film on global warming in Antartica that has been commissioned by the New Opera Group
  • a new children’s opera for performance commissioned jointly by theatre companies in Britain and Australia
  • a new work commissioned by His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts