Gerard McBurney

(b. 20 June 1954, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire).

British composer of mostly stage and chamber works that have been performed in Europe; he is also active as a musicologist.

As a musicologist, Mr. McBurney has worked in broadcasting since 1985, most often for the BBC, in both English and Russian. He has also made radio contributions in Denmark, Kazakhstan, Russia, Slovenia, the USA, and elsewhere. His writings have appeared in numerous publications and he served as the consultant on music from Russia for the publisher Boosey & Hawkes from 1991–2005. He served as artistic programming advisor to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 2005–16, where he also served as creative director of the project Beyond the Score.

He is also active in other positions. He has served as music advisor to the theatre company Complicite since 1983. He has researched and written documentary films since 1987, including several films in collaboration with director Barrie Gavin.

He worked as a part-time lecturer on literature and music from the UK at various institutions from the mid-1970s–mid-1980s and taught composition and 20th-century music at the London College of Music from 1984–93. He then lectured at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1994–2005.

He is the brother of the actor–director Simon McBurney.


E-mail address:



Image in the Glass (dance piece after Dante Gabriel Rossetti), dancer, violin, piano, marimba, 1979

The Phantom Violin (pasticcio after the works of 25 composers, 25 poets and writers, various painters, various architects, all from the 1820s), 2 voices, 3 actors, clarinet, French horn, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, 1986–87

Desire – Reflections in a Poet's Eye (musical peepshow, texts by amateur poets), male speaker, female chorus, amplified soprano recorder, alto saxophone, trumpet, slide trumpet, harp, 3 violas, double bass, percussion, 1991

White Nights (choreographic fantasy after Fyodor Dostoyevsky), orchestra, 1992

Out of a House walked a Man (musical scenes after Daniil Kharms), voices, ensemble, 1994

Stones and Trees (site-specific happening), ensemble, lights, 1995

Der kaukasische Kreidekreis (incidental music, play by Bertolt Brecht), voice, 3 players on folk instruments, fixed media, live electronics, 1997

Here comes the tiger! (text by Zinovy Zinik), 1999


Persephone Dream, violin, 1979

Three walking songs, cello, 1984

Pustyaki – Sweet Nothings, 3 players in a tea house, 1985

Except for tears, violin, 1986

Sehnsucht (in memoriam Jacqueline du Pré), cello, piano, 1987

What the eye sees (motet), 6 percussion, 1987

From the islands (12 folksongs after Flora MacNeil), 4 clarinets, 1987

Grey Light, Early Morning 2nd July 1992, alto flute, 1992

A Winter's Walk round the Park at Troitse-Lykovo, 3 clarinets, piano, 5 strings, 1995

Hildegard Quartet, any voice ad libitum, string quartet, 1996


This is the faith (introit, text by John Donne), mixed chorus, 1979

Babel (madrigal comedy, text by Michael Davies), 6 male voices, 1980

Amor mi spira (motet, text by Dante Alighieri), mixed chorus, 1987

The Castle (song-cycle, texts from nursery rhymes from the UK), children's chorus/female chorus, 1994


Easter 1982 – Achanalt (text by the composer), high voice, any player, 1982

The Ammil (text by Mark Beeson), voice, piano, 1984

My Gypsy Life (cantata), countertenor, string quartet, 1987

Rain (text by Mark Beeson), soprano (+ clapsticks), 1990

Michelangelo, soprano, 5 players, 1996

Echoes of Pushkin, countertenor, violin, viola, cello, 1996

Letters to Paradise (text by Daniil Kharms), bass-baritone, orchestra, 1998


The view from my window, 1991

Musica Amata, 2001


One Too Exciting Night, 1983 (for films by Cecil Hepworth)

Shakhmatnaya goryachka – Chess Fever, 1984 (for Shakhmatnaya goryachka by Vsevolod Pudovkin, Nikolai Shpikovsky)


Klop – The Bedbug, Op. 19 (suite), violin, cello, piano, 1982

2 movements from Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1, Op. 38b, ensemble, 1986

Four Romances on words of A. Pushkin, Op. 46, male voice, ensemble, 1986 (also version of fourth romance as Stanzas, male voice, ensemble, 1992)

Hypothetically Murdered, Op. 31, small orchestra, 1991 (a suite was arranged as Op. 31a, 1991)

5 lost movements from Hamlet, Op. 32, c. 1993

Moskva, Cheryomushki, Op. 105, dance band, 1994

The Lost Jazz Suite No. 2, swing band (27 players), 2000

Prologue to Orango (opera), Op. 32d, soprano, 2 tenors, baritone, bass-baritone, bass, mixed chorus, orchestra, 2008–10

DISCOGRAPHY (as arranger; music by Dmitri Shostakovich)

Hypothetically Murdered (suite), Op. 31a; Four Romances on words of A. Pushkin, Op. 46. Dmitri Kharitonov, bass; Sir Mark Elder/City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (United Recordings: 88001, 1993 [reissued as Signum Records: SIGCD051, 2004])

Moskva, Cheryomushki, Op. 105. Wasfi Kani/Pimlico Opera (BBC Music Magazine: 132, 1995)

5 lost movements from Hamlet, Op. 32. Sir Mark Elder/City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Cala: CACD 1021, 1995 [reissued as Signum Records: SIGCD052, 2004])

Prologue to Orango, Op. 32d. Esa-Pekka Salonen/Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon: 479 0249-2, 2012)

Klop, Op. 19. (ENS: 132)

DISCOGRAPHY (as composer)

Out of a House walked a Man. (TDC: 1)

What the eye sees. Mark Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble (unknown)