John Rimmer

(b. 5 February 1939, Auckland).

New Zealand composer of mostly stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, piano, and electroacoustic works that have been performed in Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and North America.

Mr. Rimmer initially studied at the University of New Zealand, where he earned his BA in 1961, and later studied composition with Ronald Tremain at the University of Auckland, where he earned his MA in 1963 and where he also had postgraduate studies in musicology. He then studied electronic music with Gustav Ciamaga and analysis and composition with John Weinzweig at the University of Toronto and earned his DMus there in 1972.

Among his honours are the Philip Neill Memorial Prize from the University of Otago in Dunedin (1971, for Composition 2; 2003, for Bowed Insights), First Prize in the International Horn competition in the USA (1983, for De Æstibus Rerum), and the Prix de la Confédération Internationale de la Musique Électroacoustique de Bourges (1986, for Fleeting Images).

He is also active in other positions. He served as composer-in-residence to the Auckland Philharmonia in 2002–03.

He lectured at North Shores Teachers College in Auckland from 1970–74 and served as composer-in-residence at the University of Otago in Dunedin in 1972, on a Mozart Fellowship. He taught at the University of Auckland from 1974–99 and founded its studio for electronic music in 1976 and its ensemble for contemporary music the Karlheinz Company in 1978. There he was awarded a personal professorial chair in music in 1995.


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Fond Youth (text by Ian Wedde), dance troupe, 5 mixed choruses, small orchestra, fixed media, 1972

The Juggler (music-theatre work, text by the composer, after 13th-century sources from France), high voice, tenor, bass, male chorus, variable ensemble, 1976

A Midsummer Night's Dream (incidental music, play by William Shakespeare), female chorus, recorders (1 player), shawm, cornet, fixed media, 1980

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (music-theatre work, text by Betty Gilderdale), 5 soloists, dance troupe, Renaissance ensemble (recorders, shawm, gemshorn, sackbuts, psaltery, violin, percussion), 1981 (also concert version of some sections as Gawain Suite, 3 recorders)

Galileo (chamber opera in 3 acts, libretto by Witi Ihimaera), soprano, 2 mezzo-sopranos, 2 tenors, 3 baritones, mixed chorus, flute (+ piccolo), oboe, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, violin, cello, piano, percussion, fixed media, digital images (by Wayne Howe, Michael Lonsdale, Alex Sutherland), 1998


Symphony No. 1, 1968

December Nights, small orchestra, 1970

Expomusic, large orchestra, 1970

Explorations-Discoveries, French horn, orchestra, 1971

Iconoclasm, brass band, 1971

Seven Reactions, youth orchestra, 1971

Second Journey, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 12 strings, 1972

At the Appointed Time, large orchestra, 1973

The Horns of a Dilemma, 2 French horns, orchestra, 1974

The Ring of Fire, small orchestra (16 players), 1976

Concerto, viola, orchestra, 1980

Gossamer, 12 strings, 1984

Meeting Place, 1984

Singing Ocean, youth symphonic band, 1988

Symphony No. 2, 'The Feeling of Sound', 1989

Cloud Fanfares, 1990

Millennia, brass band, 1991

Your Piano is My Forte (concerto), piano, small orchestra, 1991

Four Pieces, youth symphonic band, 1994

Memories, youth orchestra, 1998

Vulcan (fanfare), 1999

Symphonic Triptych, brass band, 2001

Agincourt (march), brass band, 2002

Europa (concerto), brass band, orchestra, 2002

Leafspin, 2002

Transcend – Concerto for Orchestra, 2003

Lahar – Volcanic Flow, 2003

Thermal Labyrinths, brass band, 2004

Stellar Meditations, brass band, 2004

Ubique (concert march), brass band/military band/symphonic band, 2004

Hidden Treasures, French horn, orchestra, 2005

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, brass band, 2006

Breathalyzer, 2006

Manukau Refrains, 3 percussion, orchestra, 2007

Trust, symphonic band, 2009

Sacred Stones, instruments of the Māori, brass band, 2009

Frozen Landscape, tenor horn, brass band, 2010 (version of Frozen Continent, soprano cornet, piano)

Riffs 'n' Ructions, brass band, 2011 (also version as Waimea Ructions, brass, percussion)

Suite Helen (5 pieces), symphonic band, 2011

Five Anniversary Haiku, 2016

Crystal Water, cornet, brass band, 2016

Silken Threads, English horn, string orchestra, 2018 (also version as The Sound of Silk, English horn, string quartet)

From the Astrolabe, brass band, 2018


Octet, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 1964

Serenade 1, 2 flutes, alto flute, bass clarinet, vibraphone, xylophone, 1967

Composition 1, French horn, fixed media, 1968 (also version as Retrofit, tuba, fixed media, 2011)

Composition 2, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, fixed media, 1969

Composition 5, percussion, fixed media, 1971

Refrains, Cadenzas and Interludes, string quartet, 1971

Abstract as White, violin, viola, cello, 1972

Composition 4, flute, fixed media, 1972

In Memoriam George Hopkins, tenor recorder, percussion, 1972

Interplay, harpsichord, percussion, 1972

Soliloquy, harp, 1972

Composition 3, harp, fixed media, 1973

Composition 7, bassoon, piano, fixed media, 1973

Composition 8, violin, fixed media, 1974

The Exotic Circle, 6 recorders, 2 percussion, 1974

A Cry in the Wilderness, recorders (1 player), harpsichord, 1975

Epitaphium, violin, 1975

Mirror-Pond, recorders (1 player), percussion ad libitum, 1975

The New Tristan, recorders (1 player), synthesizer, percussion, fixed media, 1975

Where Sea Meets Sky 2, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1975

Vexilla Regis, recorders (1 player), 1976

Composition 10, double bass, fixed media, 1977

Extro-Intro, French horn, live electronics, 1977

Jongleurs, 2 soprano recorders, 2 alto recorders, tenor recorder, 1977

Whakaari – Island of Mist, soprano recorder, 1977

Soundweb, trombone, fixed media, 1978

Thoughts from Peria, flute, oboe, clarinet, harpsichord, string quartet, 1978

Seaswell, trumpet, fixed media, 1979

Emergence, clarinet, percussion, 1981

Tides, French horn, fixed media, 1981

Marathon, cello, live electronics, 1982

Sonata a 5, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1982

De Æstibus Rerum, clarinet, French horn, violin, cello, piano, 1983

Clouds over Pirongia, 4 percussion, 1984

Gawain Suite, 3 recorders, 1984 (concert version of sections of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

Projections at Dawn, clarinet, fixed media, 1985

Signals, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, Renaissance ensemble (cornett, sackbut, 2 crumhorns), 1985

Cosmic Dances, 4 recorders, 1986

Voyager, 3 recorders, fixed media, 1986

With the Current, flute (+ alto flute), cello, piano, percussion, 1986

Omarama – Place of Light, trumpet, violin, piano, 1987

Tritones, French horn, synthesizer, 1987

Coils, bass clarinet, marimba, 1989

The Revelation of Increasing Complexity, bass clarinet, marimba (+ vibraphone), 1989

Crow, oboe, fixed media, 1991

Hauturu – Where the Winds Rest, bass clarinet, 1992

Mahurangi – Place of Importance, viola, 1992

Bowed Insights, string quartet, 1993

Southern Invention, any low instrument, piano, 1993

Arioso-Spiritoso, flügelhorn, piano, 1995

Murmures, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1995

The Ripple Effect, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1995

At the Base of the Whirlpool, bass oboe, bass clarinet, 1996 (also versions for 2 bass clarinets, 1999; bass clarinet, cello, 1999)

Fanfare and Processional for NT, 4 trumpets, 3 percussion, 1996

A Dialogue of Opposites, cello, 1997

Merger, 2 French horns, tuba, 1999

Murmures 2, E-flat clarinet, clarinet, bass clarinet, 2000

Tacking Duel, 2 French horns, percussion, 2000

AU, bass clarinet, ensemble (flute [+ alto flute], French horn, bass trombone, cello, double bass), 2002

The Dance of the Sibyl, violin, 2002

Kakapo Reborn, bass trombone, ensemble (bass clarinet, cello, double bass), 2002

Other Flutes, amplified Baroque flute, fixed media, 2002

On the Way to the Airport 1, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 2003, revised 2009

Transcendental Fragments, 2 oboes, English horn, 2003

Fragile Earth, oboe, violin, viola, cello, 2004

Cosmic Winds, player (porotiti [whizzer of the Māori], rehu [flute of the Māori], pūtorino [flute–trumpet of the Māori], pu motomoto [trumpet of the Māori], pūtātara [conch trumpet of the Māori], pūkaea [wooden trumpet of the Māori], ku [percussion instrument of the Māori], panguru [percussion instrument of the Māori]), fixed media, 2004 (collaboration with Richard Nunns)

Frozen Continent, soprano cornet, piano, 2005 (also version as Frozen Landscape, tenor horn, brass band)

Cold Wind, cello, 2005

Burning the Calories, violin, cello, piano, 2006

Fifty Apples for Eve, flute, piano, 2006

Metamusic, flute, piano, 2007

Summer Street, clarinet, string quartet, 2007

Adieu KS, violin, 2008

The Moon Rises Over Tapu Bay, 4 French horns, 2008 (also version for 4 saxophones, 2008)

Serenade 2, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 2009

Diversions, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, 2010 (also version for 4 saxophones, 2010; versions as Divertimento, 4 French horns, 2010; Four by Four, 4 clarinets, 2011)

String Quartet No. 3, 2010

Waimea Ructions, brass, percussion, 2012 (version of Riffs 'n' Ructions)

Beyond the Call, 5 players, 2012

Nelsonian Riffs for Guitar Quartet, 4 guitars, 2012

Ingrid's Song (microscore), alto flute, 2013

Brooklyn Dances, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, 2013 (also version as Brooklyn Dances 2, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 2014)

Cimarosa's Delight, oboe, 2013

Kokako Dreams, flute, clarinet, piano, 2013 (version of For the Kokako, piano)

Streets Ahead 2, oboe, bassoon, 2014

On the Way to the Airport 2, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 2014

Sacred Murmurs, 4 cellos, 2014

Iridescent Shells, violin, cello, piano, 2015 (version of Flashes of Iridescence, piano)

Kimbolton Serenade, violins/cellos, 2016

Smooth Surfaces, tenor horn, piano, 2016

Gruntled, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, euphonium, tuba, 2017

Elegy for the Kauri, cello, piano, 2017

The Sound of Silk, English horn, string quartet, 2018 (version of Silken Threads)

Life's Joy, cello, piano, 2018 (version of The Broken Heart)

Elegy for the Kauri 2, guitar, violin, 2018

String Quartet No. 4, 'Abstract as White', 2018

Elegy for Riki, euphonium, piano, 2018

Bruma, guitar, 2 violins, 2018

String Quartet No. 5, 2018

Smooth Surfaces 2, French horn, piano, 2018

After the Meeting, 3 flutes, alto flute, bass flute, 2020


Dies Sanctificatus, mixed chorus, 1967

O Magnum Mysterium, mixed chorus, 1967

Seven Summer Haiku (texts by Sora, Matsuo Bashō), female chorus, piano, 4 percussion, 1970

Lovesong (text from an anonymous source of the Māori), mixed chorus, flute, 1972

Visions 1 (text from the Bible), soprano, baritone, 2 mixed choruses, fixed media, 1975

As the Waves Cover the Sea (text from the Bible), female chorus, small orchestra, fixed media, 1977

A Song of Humility (text from the Bible), soprano, female chorus, 1978

Alleluia, soprano, alto, tenor, bass, mixed chorus, 1987

The Record of Music (text by Confucius), 8 mixed voices, 1989

TGS '75 (text by Mark Richards), youth mixed chorus, piano, 2002

Voyagers (text by Rachel Bush), female chorus, flute, 2 violins, piano, synthesizer/vibraphone, xylophone, 2004

O for a Thousand Tongues (text by Thomas Jarman), mixed chorus, brass band/organ, 2008

The Divine Secret, mixed chorus, piano, percussion, 2009

Tenebræ, mixed chorus, 2013

Anzacs Remembered, mixed chorus, piano, 2014 (shorter version of work for baritone, brass band)

Psalm of the Cosmos (text from an anonymous source), mixed chorus, 2014

Nativity (text by Joy Cowley), mixed chorus, 2014

In Friendship (text from an anonymous source), mixed chorus, 2016

A Prayer of St. Francis (text by St. Francis of Assisi [anonymous translation]), mixed chorus, piano, 2017

The Search for God (text by Jocelyn Marshall), 3 mixed voices, 2019

The Journey (text by Joy Cowley), 3 mixed voices, piano, 2020

Haiku of the Waves (text by the composer), 8 mixed voices, fixed media, 2020


Two Songs (text by W. H. Auden), soprano, piano, 1964

Pukeko (text by Ian Wedde), mezzo-soprano, flute, oboe, French horn, cello, piano, 1972

Composition 9 (text by Ian Wedde), soprano, fixed media, 1976

Narcissus (text by Ian Wedde), soprano, flute, trumpet, cello, piano, percussion, 1979

Ubi Eum Crucifixerunt (text from the Book of John), soprano, oboe, 2008

Motet for Hildegard (text by St. Hildegard of Bingen [English translation]), soprano, oboe, fixed media, 2008

Anzacs Remembered (text by Laurence Binyon), baritone, brass band, 2010 (also shorter version for mixed chorus, piano)

Psalm of the Nativity (text by Joy Cowley), soprano/tenor, piano, 2014

The Broken Heart (text by Joy Cowley), soprano, piano, 2018 (also version as Life's Joy, cello, piano)


Composition 6, piano, fixed media, 1972

Beyond, 1978

For the Kokako, 1978 (also version as Kokako Dreams, flute, clarinet, piano)

Centrifugues, 1987

Preludes of Light, 1987

Flashes of Iridescence, 1995 (also version as Iridescent Shells, violin, cello, piano)

Hammerheads, 2 pianos 8 hands, 2008

Three Pieces, 2 pianos 8 hands, 2008

Seven Character Sketches, 2015

Kimbolton Preludes, 2016

Covid and Beyond – 19 Micropieces for Piano, 2020


Fantasia, 1983


Mobiles, 1972


Canzona, fixed media, 1968

A Sengai Question, fixed media, 1970

Homage to Paganini, fixed media, 1974

White Island, fixed media, 1974

Where Sea Meets Sky 1, fixed media, 1975

Colder far than Snow, fixed media, 1977

Poi, fixed media, 1979

De Motu Naturæ, fixed media, 1985

Fleeting Images, fixed media, 1985

Beyond the Saying, fixed media, 1990

An Inner Voice, fixed media, 1991

A Vocalise for Einstein, fixed media, 1991

Redundancies, fixed media, 1993

Pacific Soundscapes with Dancing, fixed media, 1995

La Voce di Galileo, fixed media, 1995

Ancestral Voices, fixed media, 2000

People, Power and Pollution, fixed media, 2000

Distant Rituals, fixed media, 2006

Ancient Chemistry, fixed media, 2017

Hokusai Reflections, fixed media, 2019

The Embers of Dreams, fixed media, 2020