John McGuire

(b. 27 June 1942, Artesia, California).

American composer of mostly orchestral, chamber and electroacoustic works that have been performed throughout Europe and elsewhere.

Mr. McGuire studied composition with Robert Gross at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he earned his BA in 1964, with Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and with Seymour Shifrin at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his MA in 1970. He also studied composition privately with Karl Kohn, composition and orchestration with Krzysztof Penderecki at the Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen from 1966–68 and composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt in 1967–68. He then studied algorithmic composition with Gottfried Michael Koenig at the Instituut voor Sonologie of the Universiteit Utrecht in 1970–71.

Among his honours are the Alfred E. Hertz Traveling Scholarship from the University of California, Berkeley (1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68), the Fulbright Scholarship (1966–67, for studies in Germany), two scholarships from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (1967–68, for studies at the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt), and First Prize in the competition of the Internationale Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Amsterdam (1971, for Decay for Eight French Horns). His music has been performed in Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, the UK, and the USA.

He is also active in other positions. He performed as pianist of the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern from 1972–75 and served as organist of the church St. Nikolaus von Tolentino in Rösrath from 1979–82. He later served as composer-in-residence at the Künstlerhaus Schloss Wiepersdorf in Brandenburg in 1995 and worked as an editor for the publisher Carl Fischer Music in New York, New York in 1998.

He taught advanced composition and 20th-century music as a part-time visiting adjunct professor at Columbia University from 2000–06.

He lived in Germany from 1966–98, but has once again lived in the USA since 1998.

He is married to the soprano Beth Griffith.


E-mail address:



Study for Orchestra, 1965

Pulse Music II, 4 pianos, small orchestra, 1975–77

Cadence Music, small orchestra (21 players), 1982–85

Marking Time, 2 small orchestras (4 clarinets, 2 French horns, 6/12 strings; 2 oboes, 2 English horns, 2 bassoons, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, 8/16 strings), 2006–09


Four Canons for Two Clarinets, 2 clarinets, 1963

String Trio, violin, viola, cello, 1963–64

Divergences, piano, ensemble (2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos), 1965–66

Cadenza, string quartet, 1966

Decay for Eight French Horns, 8 French horns, 1967–70

Music for Horns, Pianos and Cymbals, 4 French horns, 2 pianos, cymbals (2 players), 1981

Jump Cuts, 2 ensembles (violin, viola, cello; violin, viola, cello), 2009–12

Double Bars, 2 ensembles (violin, viola, cello; violin, viola, cello), 2015–17


Ordinary Measures, 6 mixed voices, 2004–05 (unfinished)


A Cappella, soprano, fixed media, 1990–97

Exchanges, soprano, string quartet, 1998–2002


Frieze for Four Pianos, 4 pianos, 1969–74

Forty-Eight Variations for Two Pianos, 2 pianos, 1976–80


Pulse Music I, fixed media, 1975–76

Pulse Music III, fixed media, 1978

Vanishing Points, fixed media, 1985–88


Forty-Eight Variations for Two Pianos. Herbert Henck, Deborah Richards, pianos (Largo Records: 5108, 1987 [LP], reissued 1999)

Pulse Music I. (Cybele Records/Feedback Studio Verlag: 960302, 2001)

Pulse Music III; Vanishing Points; A Cappella. Beth Griffith, soprano (Sargasso Records: SCD28043, 2002)

Cadence Music; Exchanges; Decay for Eight French Horns; Frieze for Four Pianos; Music for Horns, Pianos and Cymbals. Julia Rempe, soprano; Christine Chapman, French horns; Paulo Álvares, Eun Ju Kim, Hermann Kretzschmar, Irmela Roelcke, pianos; Pellegrini-Quartett; James Avery/musikFabrik; Ernest Bour/Ensemble Modern (edition rz: RZ 20003–4, 2008)