George Nicholson

(b. 1949, County Durham).

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

Prof. Nicholson studied composition with David Blake and Bernard Rands at the University of York, where he earned his DMus in 1979.

He is also active in other positions. He has performed as a pianist in the ensembles Nomos and Triple Echo and has given recitals with his wife, the soprano Jane Ginsborg. As a conductor, he has led numerous ensembles for contemporary music in the UK. He has served as a member of the Executive Committee for Concert Music of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors since 2006.

He taught as a lecturer in music and served as director of the department of composition at Keele University in Staffordshire from 1988–95. He has taught at the University of Sheffield since 1996, where he was Senior Lecturer in Composition from 1996–2008, served as chair of the department of music from 2003–05, was Reader in Composition from 2008–17, and has been Professor in Composition since 2017.

His publisher is the University of York Music Press.


E-mail address:




The Arrival of the Poet in the City (melodrama, text by Christopher Logue), male speaker, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), bassoon, cornet, trombone, violin, double bass, vibraphone (+ percussion), fixed media, 1982–83


1132, 1976

The Convergence of the Twain, 1978

Chamber Concerto, small orchestra (13 players), 1979–80

Sea-Change, 14 strings, 1988

Concerto, cello, orchestra, 1990

Concerto, flute, orchestra, 1993

Fenestræ, small orchestra (15 players), 1998

Concerto for Orchestra, large orchestra, 2004–05

Short Stories, symphonic band (piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns, 3 B-flat trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion), 2008


Recycle, 2 flutes (1st + alto flute, 2nd + piccolo), 2 clarinets (1st + E-flat clarinet, 2nd + bass clarinet), 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, harp, 1975–76

Overtune, 3 flutes (2nd + piccolo, 3rd + alto flute), English horn, 3 clarinets (2nd + E-flat clarinet, 3rd + bass clarinet), 1976

String Quartet No. 1, 1976–77

Brass Quintet, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1977

The Seventh Seal, viola, 1977

Winter Music, clarinet, harp, percussion, 1978

Nodus, clarinet, piano, 1978

N'est-ce pas... ?, violin, 1979

So Low, double bass, 1981

Slide Show, trombone, 1981

Ancient Lights, flute (+ piccolo), 2 clarinets (both + bass clarinet), violin, viola, cello, piano, 1982

Movements, clarinet (+ E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet), bassoon, French horn, 2 violins, viola, 1982–83

Sound Progressions Newly Minted, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1983

String Quartet No. 2, 1984–85

Stilleven, flute, bass clarinet, flügelhorn, violin, double bass, 1985

Three Nocturnes, A-clarinet (+ E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet), violin, cello, piano, 1986

Romanza, violin, piano, 1987

Spring Songs, recorder, 1991

Muybridge Frames, trombone, piano, 1992

Ave atque vale, flute, piano, 1994

(termi)né, 2 bass clarinets, 1995

String Quartet No. 3, 1995

Fills, clarinet, 2000

Catch, flute, clarinet, vibraphone, 2001 (section of Wessex Heights; may be performed separately)

Shailing and wambling, viola, cello, 2001 (section of Wessex Heights; may be performed separately)

Umbra/penumbra, trombone, piano, 2002

Mister Biberian His Dompe, guitar, 2002

Autumn Journey, French horn, harp, 2005

Sonant formant morph, bass clarinet, violin, viola, cello, 2006

Tableaux vivants, soprano saxophone, French horn, trumpet, harp, guitar, 2 violins, viola, cello, percussion, 2004–07

Bagatelles, oboe, percussion, 2006–07

Cæsura, French horn, violin, piano, 2007

Recueillement, flute, French horn, harp, viola, 2007

Salve regina, alto flute, oboe d'amore, E-flat clarinet, French horn, violin, viola, cello, vibraphone, 2008

The darkening green (in memory of Wilfrid Mellers), oboe, piano, 2008

Groundswell, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, violin, viola, cello, piano, vibraphone, 3 percussion, 2009 (section of Wessex Heights; may be performed separately)

Dedans, trombone, live electronics, 2010

Harmonica, E-flat clarinet, 7 clarinets, alto clarinet/basset horn, 2 bass clarinets, contra-alto clarinet/contrabass clarinet, 2011

Moonlight over Albion (in memory of David Bedford), clarinet, viola, piano, 2011

Darkness Visible (in memory of Alan Hacker), bass clarinet, piano, 2012

Soundings, bass clarinet, 2012

String Quartet No. 4, 2012–13

Far cry, alto saxophone, piano, 2014–15

Shadow Play, flute, clarinet, 2015

Madrigals in memoriam Henri Pousseur, trumpet (+ flügelhorn), trombone, piano, 2015–16

Salut, string quartet, 2016

String Quartet No. 5, 2017

Launch, bass clarinet, piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, 2018


A World of Imagination (text by William Blake), mixed chorus, 1984

Dormi, Jesu! (text from a traditional prayer [also translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge]), mixed chorus, piano, 2006

(Fifty-second) Streets (text from the names of streets in York), 4 mixed voices, 2015


Colloque sentimental (texts by Stéphane Mallarmé, Heinrich Heine), soprano, harp, 1976

Rondeau (text from an anonymous source), soprano, 1977

Settings (text by Georg Trakl), soprano, piano, 1977

Hallel (texts from Psalm 117, Psalm 144, Psalm 133), soprano, organ, 1979

Alla Luna (text by Giacomo Leopardi), soprano, clarinet, piano, 1981

Aubade (text from an anonymous source), soprano, 5 players, 1981

Vignette (text by William Morris), soprano, piano, 1983–84

Peripheral Visions (texts by Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll, Wyndham Lewis, an anonymous source), soprano, piano, 1983–84

Blisworth Tunnel Blues (texts by William Blake, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Hardy, Henry David Thoreau, Mary Shelley), soprano, small orchestra (20 players), 1986–87

Letters to the World (text by Emily Dickinson), soprano, recorder, cello, harpsichord, 1997–99

Wessex Heights, 2001–09 (its eight sections may be performed separately: [1] Embers [text by Thomas Hardy], soprano, oboe, clarinet, French horn, violin, viola, cello, vibraphone, 2004; [2] Shailing and wambling, viola, cello; [3] Volte-face [text by Thomas Hardy], soprano, flute, oboe, violin, 2009; [4] Groundswell, clarinet [+ bass clarinet], French horn, violin, viola, cello, piano, vibraphone, 3 percussion; [5] Catch, flute, clarinet, vibraphone; [6] Idyll [text by Thomas Hardy], soprano, flute, bass clarinet, viola, cello, piano, 2003; [7] For Tess [vocalise], soprano, flute, oboe, bass clarinet [+ clarinet], French horn, violin, viola, cello, piano, vibraphone, 2009; [8] Along upon [text by Thomas Hardy], soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, vibraphone, 2009)

Further than guess (text by Emily Dickinson), tenor, cello, 2010

To the Rainbow (text by D. H. Lawrence), soprano, alto recorder (+ tenor recorder, bass recorder), 2013–14


Sonata, 1983

Cascate, 1985

Mots justes, 1988–97 (its five sections may be performed separately: Impromptu, 1988; All Systems Go, 1989; For Miles, 1991–92; Sung without words, 1996; In Accord, 1997)

Pas Seul, 2011

Chiaroscuro, 2012

Tronie, 2013


Egdon Heath (Gustav Holst), flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, violin, viola, cello, piano, 2009


Muybridge Frames; Umbra/penumbra. John Kenny, trombone; George Nicholson, piano (British Music Label: BML 018)

Darkness Visible. Sarah Watts, bass clarinet; Antony Clare, piano (Cuillin Sound: CUILL1002)

String Quartet No. 3. Bochmann Quartet (Metier Records: MSV CD 92016)

Peripheral Visions. Alison Smart, soprano; Katharine Durran, piano (Metier Records: MSV CD 92025)

Spring Songs; For Miles; Sung without words; In Accord; Nodus; Letters to the World. Alison Wells, soprano; John Turner, recorder; Philip Edwards, clarinet; Jonathan Price, cello; Peter Lawson, George Nicholson, pianos; Keith Elcombe, harpsichord (Metier Records: MSV CD 92062)

Bagatelles. New Noise (Oboe Classics: CC2021)

The Arrival of the Poet in the City. Christopher Logue, speaker; Alan Fearon/Royal Northern Sinfonia Ensemble (Unknown Public: UPL 701)