‘Barry seems particularly interested in the hysteria that creeps into systems under stress. He wants them not to blow up, but to lurch on, sucking anxiety out of the air and feeding it back to us. The peculiar tone of his work comes from the balance he strikes between dogmatic control and anarchy.’ Toronto Globe and Mail
‘Each piece by Barry is like a signature in music. It’s utterly personal and instantly recognisable.’ The Musical Times
‘ . . . sounds like a barn dance devised by a chaos theorist’ Tempo (on Wiener Blut)
Gerald Barry was born in Ireland in 1952 and studied composition with Stockhausen and Kagel. He first came to public attention in 1979 with his radical ensemble works ‘__________’ and ‘Ø’.
Many of his works have been commissioned by the BBC, including Chevaux-de-frise for the Ulster Orchestra at the 1988 Proms, The Conquest of Ireland and Day for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Eternal Recurrence, a setting of Nietzsche for voice and orchestra, and Hard D for the Orkest de Volharding. Chevaux-de-frise was given its Russian première by the Mariinsky Orchestra in 2007.
Barry’s first opera The Intelligence Park (recorded on NMC), commissioned by the ICA, was first performed at the 1990 Almeida Festival, and a second opera, The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, written for Channel 4 Television, opened the 2002 Aldeburgh Festival, followed by performances in London and the Berliner Festwochen. It received its North American première with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2006, followed by performances in Paris, Amsterdam, and New York in 2007-2008.
Barry has enjoyed a long assocation with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, for whom he wrote Wiener Blut, Dead March, and Beethoven. Wiener Blut, commissioned by the BCMG for the 2000 Aldeburgh Festival, received its London première at the 2000 BBC Proms, and the work has since received numerous performances both in the UK and abroad. God Save The Queen for choir and the London Sinfonietta was commissioned by London's South Bank Centre for the fiftieth birthday of the Royal Festival Hall in 2001.
In 2005 the stage première of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (recorded on RTE) was given at English National Opera and the German language première was given at the Basle Opera in May 2008.