His commissions have included orchestral music for many of the UK’s leading orchestras, with performances by many other orchestras and ensembles around the world. Of particular significance in his orchestral output is a series of concertos (for horn, tuba, trombone, trumpet, clarinet, piano, violin, saxophone, cello, flute, and oboe) which he commenced in 1970 and is still ongoing. In 2019 he was the recipient of an Ivors Composer Award for his Halle commission for children’s choir, narrators, and orchestra: ‘The Salamander and the Moonraker’, with story and text by his wife Susan Gregson. In 2020 he had further single composer CD releases of his music on the Chandos and Naxos labels. Gregson is also internationally renowned for his contributions to the wind and brass repertoire.
Critical AcclaimI have no hesitation in declaring Gregson to be one of the most significant British composers currently active in this country … - Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review (January 2011)
… if one of the touchstones of enduring worth in classical music is the ability to keep in touch with the popular language of the time - and I for one believe it is - then Edward Gregson's music is going to be valued long after the more esoteric creations of today are consigned to the museum. - Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News (July 2008)
This is a remarkably individual composer who writes in the mainstream of 20th century English music …. He proves a superb craftsman, with great orchestral flair and genuine melodic gifts. - Ivan March, Gramophone
Edward Gregson was born in Sunderland, Co Durham, England, in 1945. He graduated from London’s Royal Academy of Music in 1967, having studied piano and composition (with Alan Bush), and then completed a B.Mus (Hons) degree at London University. He is a composer of international standing whose music has been performed, broadcast, and recorded worldwide. He has written orchestral, chamber, instrumental and choral music, as well as making major contributions to the wind and brass repertoire. He has also written music for the theatre, film, and television,
His orchestral music has been performed by many orchestras and conductors worldwide, including all the BBC orchestras, the London Symphony, Royal Scottish National, Hallé, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Bournemouth Symphony orchestras; with conductors such as Martyn Brabbins, Edward Downes, Rumon Gamba, Alexander Gibson, Gunther Herbig, Kent Nagano, Gianandrea Noseda, Bramwell Tovey, and soloists including Ole Edvard Antonsen, Wissam Boustany, Olivier Charlier, Michael Collins, Nelson Goerner, Guy Johnston, Nobuya Sugawa, and Richard Watkins. His chamber music has been performed and recorded by groups including the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, London Brass, the Navarra and Nightingale string quartets, the Nash Ensemble, whilst his music for brass bands has been performed by all the major ensembles in the world.
His music has been extensively broadcast and recorded, and perhaps of special note is the ongoing series of his symphonic music and concertos on the Chandos label performed by the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Concert orchestras, and London Brass – the latest volume being released in 2020. Included in this series are all his major concertos: horn (1971), tuba (1976), trumpet (1983), trombone (1979), clarinet (1994), piano (1997), violin (2000), saxophone (2006), cello (2007), and flute (2013).
He has also recently embarked on a three-volume series of his instrumental and chamber music for the Naxos label, the first of which was released in August 2020. in addition, and of similar importance, is the six-volume survey of his complete music for brass band on the Doyen label.
His most recent compositions include Three Études for piano, recorded on the Naxos label by Murray McLachlan, an Oboe Concerto (A Vision in a Dream) for Jennifer Galloway and the BBC Philharmonic, a Euphonium Concerto for David Childs, The World Rejoicing (Symphonic Variations on a Lutheran Chorale) - a commission from five European countries due for various premieres in 2021 - and The Salamander and the Moonraker, a work for children’s choir, narrators and orchestra commissioned by the Hallé Concerts Society in 2018, with story and libretto by his wife Susan Gregson. In 2016, as Composer in Association with Black Dyke Band, he composed a Cornet Concerto and Four Études, and in 2017, as Composer in Residence at the Presteigne Festival, his 2nd String Quartet was premiered by the Nightingale Quartet from Denmark.
Edward Gregson has had an impressive career as an academic, from his time as Head of Composition and resident conductor in the music department of Goldsmiths College, University of London (1976-96), and where he was appointed a Professor of Music, to his tenure as Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester (1996-2008). He retired from academe in 2008 in order to concentrate on his composition.
He holds honorary degrees and fellowships from a dozen English universities and conservatoires, including the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, Manchester University, Lancaster University, and the RNCM, where he is also a Companion and Emeritus Professor. He has won many awards and prizes for his compositions, including an Ivor’s Composer Award in 2019 (having twice previously been nominated in other categories), a BUMA Brass Award from the Netherlands, and an Iles Silver Medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He has been a Writer Director of the Performing Right Society since 1995, and has also served on many international music juries, worked as jury member and expert commentator for the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year programmes, and as a conductor has premiered many works by UK composers. He has also written a number of scholarly articles for various publications.