Anthony Payne (1936-2021)

Anthony Payne (1936-2021)

Chester Music Limited is sad to announce that composer Anthony Payne passed away on Friday April 30, aged 84. 

Remembering Anthony, James Rushton, former Managing Director of Chester Music comments: 'It is tremendously sad that Tony has passed away, so soon after his dear wife, Jane. He was truly a one-off a man of rare humanity, loyalty and humour who devoted his life to music, and who found his unique voice in a range of compositions that, as time went by, more and more expressed his twin enthusiasms and expertise in the music of early 20th century English composers and of Schoenberg and his school. Tony created an output of musical work - not large, but each work entirely characteristic and of absolute integrity  that will attract more and more attention as the years go by as an important contribution to the overall tapestry of late 20th / early 21st century European music.’

In a musical career of more than 60 years Anthony Payne developed a highly personal musical language that reconciled the rigors of Schoenbergian serialism with a deep love of English music of the early twentieth century. He found his voice in his Phoenix Mass of 1969, a concert piece which was given its first performance by the BBC Chorus and Philip Jones Brass Ensemble. In 1985 he composed The Spirit’s Harvest in response to a BBC commission marking European Music Year. The piece, which he described as having been 25 years in the making, was premiered at the BBC Proms. Another Proms commission followed in 1990, for which he composed Time’s Arrow, subsequently recorded on the NMC label.

In the late 90s, Payne received international acclaim for his completion of Elgar’s Third Symphony, which he reconstructed from sketches left by the composer at the time of his death. The piece was first performed at the Royal Festival Hall in 1998 and has subsequently been heard around the world. Payne’s varied output also includes many works for chamber ensemble, such as A Day in the Life of a Mayfly (1981) and Empty Landscape - Heart's Ease (1995), written for the Fires of London and Nash Ensemble respectively. In addition, his vocal works expose a breadth of literary knowledge and sensitivity to language.

Payne was highly regarded as a speaker and writer on music. He published books on Schoenberg, Frank Bridge, and Elgar’s Third Symphony and was a frequent broadcaster on BBC radio and television. He held Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Birmingham, Durham and Kingston, and was a Fellow of the Royal College of Music. He was a loyal supporter of his fellow composers and performers and was a familiar sight at concerts alongside his wife, the soprano Jane Manning with whom he founded the ensemble Jane's Minstrels in 1988 and who died last month. Payne is survived by a nephew and two nieces. 

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