Adam Gorb, composer

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

Beethoven Pastoral Symphony.

Bartok Mikrokosmos

The Rite of Spring

Early music teachers at primary and secondary school who encouraged me to write.

Alfred Nieman

Paul Patterson

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

To keep writing music true to myself despite fashions and the world changing.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

Trying not to repeat myself – having something relevant to say. Looking forward to working with performers and hearing the piece.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles or orchestras?

Having close working relationships, the culmination of the birth of a new work.

Of which works are you most proud?

The final prelude of my 24 preludes for piano – a fugue. Ideally heard after the other 23 pieces.

My first major wind ensemble work – Metropolis (1992). And a more recent one – Love Transforming (2013.)

My string quartet no 2 (2008.)

My second opera: The Path to Heaven (2017-8).

How would you characterise your compositional language?

Personal, I hope. And not boring (I also hope.)

How do you work?

At the piano.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Being busy, goal-orientated and relishing new challenges.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Believe in yourself, and don’t give up.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?

Education – catch them young! Lots of practical music making in schools, to encourage a lifelong curiosity and pleasure in the greatest art form.

Where would you like to be in 10 years?

At home with a busy schedule.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sharing an amazing bottle of wine with my wife.

What is your most treasured possession?

My upright piano.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Being with friends and family. Travelling. Reading. Going to the theatre. Walking. Eating and drinking outdoors.

What is your present state of mind?


Adam Gorb was born in 1958 and started composing at the age of ten. At fifteen he wrote a set of piano pieces – A Pianist’s Alphabet – of which a selection was performed by Susan Bradshaw on BBC Radio 3. In 1977 he went to Cambridge University to study music, where his teachers included Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway. After graduating in 1980 he divided his time between composition and working as a musician in the theatre. In 1987 he started studying privately with Paul Patterson, and then, from 1991 at the Royal, Academy of Music where he gained a MMus degree and graduated with the highest honours, including the Principal’s Prize in 1993.

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