Andrew Downes (composer)

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Andrew Downes (born 1950) is a British classical composer.

Early life[edit]

Downes was born in Handsworth, Birmingham. He attended St. John's College, Cambridge on a scholarship, receiving his Master's degree in composition. In 1974 he studied with Herbert Howells[1] at the Royal College of Music. Downes was Head of the School of Composition and Creative Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire from 1992 until 2005, when he retired due to ill health.[2][3]


In addition to live performances, Downes' music has been broadcast on BBC Radios 2, 3[4] & 4, BBC TV, ‘France Musique’, Italian TV, Austrian Radio, Dutch Radio,[4] Czech Radio and Central Peking Radio. 17 CDs have been made of his music.

His commissions have included The Marshes of Glynn for the Royal opening of the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham in 1986;[5] Centenary Fire Dances for the City of Birmingham’s Centenary Festival of Fireworks and Music;[5] an Overture for the Three Choirs Festival; songs for the Cantamus Girls Choir;[6] song cycles for mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker and tenor John Mitchinson for broadcast on BBC Radio 3; anthems for the BBC Radio 4 Daily Service; Sonata for 8 Horns for the Horn Octet of the University of New Mexico; Suite for 6 Horns for the Vienna Horn Society; Song of the Eagle for the James Madison University Flute Choir of Virginia;[5] Concerto for Two Pianos for the Duo Scaramouche; Sonata for 8 Pianists for soloists from France, Italy and Britain;[7] Mela Kamavardhani for performances by Indo-Jazz Fusions in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay; Fanfare for Madam Speaker, for the Installation of the Rt Hon Betty Boothroyd MP as Chancellor of the Open University in 1994; Concerto for Two Guitars for Simon Dinnigan and Fred T. Baker with Strings from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra;[5] Concert Overture 'Towards a New Age' for the 150th anniversary of the British Institution of Mechanical Engineers,[8] premiered in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and Suite for Brass Sextet for the Czech Philharmonic Brass Sextet.

As a result of the success of the CD recording of his Sonata for 8 Horns by the Horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,[4] Andrew was commissioned to compose a Concerto for 4 Horns and Orchestra for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,[4] who gave two performances of the work in the Dvorak Hall, Prague, in February and March 2002.[4] In March 2003 the work was recorded for broadcast by Czech Radio. Andrew returned to Prague in October 2005 to hear a performance by the Czech Philharmonic Horns of his 5 Dramatic Pieces for 8 Wagner Tubas.

Personal life[edit]

His wife Cynthia has, since 1976, published his music under the company name Lynwood Music. They have two daughters, Anna and Paula (both married), two grandsons, Oscar and Maxwell and two granddaughters, Persephone and Emilia. Paula has been Chief Executive of Lynwood Music since 2013.


  1. ^ Staff writer (10 June 2005). "Piano recital includes Howells' work". The Citizen. Northcliffe Newspapers Group Ltd. p. 10.
  2. ^ Staff writer (9 June 2005). "Leading pianist's recital". Newsquest Media Group Newspapers. Newsquest Digital Media.
  3. ^ Staff writer (14 June 2005). "Tribute to composer". Birmingham Evening Mail. Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. p. 12.
  4. ^ a b c d e Morley, Christopher (28 February 2002). "Culture - Andrew on song with Czech mate". Birmingham Post. Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. p. 16.
  5. ^ a b c d Grimley, Terry (17 February 2000). "Millennium is a new dawn for Birmingham composer". Birmingham Post. Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. p. 13.
  6. ^ Staff writer (25 May 1999). "Such an evocative evening". Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph.
  7. ^ Staff writer (2 December 2000). "Perfect eight". Birmingham Evening Mail. Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. p. 8.
  8. ^ Staff writer (26 February 1997). "Overture to a Celebration". Professional Engineering. Institution of Mechanical Engineers. p. 52.

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