Graham Waterhouse

Graham Waterhouse

portrait of Graham Waterhouse, holding a cello

Portrait, 2011
Born (1962-11-02) 2 November 1962
London, England
Residence Munich, Germany
Years active 1978 (1978)–present
Notable work
Parent(s) William Waterhouse
Waterhouse's voice
recorded March 2015

Graham Waterhouse (born 2 November 1962) is an English composer and a cellist. He is known for chamber music and for unusual scoring, such as Bright Angel for three bassoons and contrabassoon, Chieftain's Salute for Great Highland Bagpipe and string orchestra, and works for speaking voice and cello, such as Der Handschuh. For his own instrument, he composed a cello concerto and Three Pieces for Solo Cello. He wrote string quartets and compositions which juxtapose it with a solo instrument, including Piccolo Quintet, Bassoon Quintet and Rhapsodie Macabre.


Graham Waterhouse was born in London, the son of the noted bassoonist and musicologist William Waterhouse. He attended Highgate School and studied music at the University of Cambridge (composition with Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway), and in Germany at the Folkwang Hochschule (cello with Young-Chang Cho) and Hochschule für Musik Köln (cello, with Maria Kliegel, conducting and piano). He has lived in Munich since 1992.

He has received commissions by the International Double Reed Society (IDRS), the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Munich Biennale, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Estado de Mexico, the Kaske Stiftung and the Park Lane Group (London), among others. His compositions have earned prizes at competitions of Münchener Tonkünstlerverband (1996) and of Via Nova in Weimar (2000).[1] His string quartet Chinese Whispers was awarded the "BCMS Composition Prize" of the Birmingham Chamber Music Society in 2011.

He has performed as the soloist of his Cello Concerto in Mexico City (1995), Nizhny Novgorod, Weimar, Baden-Baden, St. Martin, Idstein (version for chamber orchestra, 2005), and Cambridge (2008).

In 2001 he was the composer in residence of Solisten der Kammerphilharmonie Berlin, in 2006 artiste en residence in Albertville, France, and in 2008 Musician By-Fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

He has worked with Ensemble Modern and participated in the concert tour 2001 of the Ensemble Modern Orchestra under Pierre Boulez.[2] He has also performed with the ensembles musikFabrik and Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin.

As a composer and a performer, he is mostly dedicated to chamber music, and has co-founded several chamber ensembles, including the Vuillaume-Cello-Ensemble playing instruments built by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. He established in 1998 a regular chamber music concert series at Gasteig Munich, programming contemporary works alongside classical repertory.[3] Players for his chamber music concerts have included members of the Munich Philharmonic, such as bassoonist Lyndon Watts. Waterhouse has collaborated with the composers Jens Josef (flute) and Rudi Spring (piano). They appeared together in a trio concert at the Gasteig, performing Martinů's trio, the premiere of the flute version of Gestural Variations, and a Christmas carol by each composer, In dulci jubilo set by Waterhouse.[4] The song Im Gebirg (The Mountain) on a poem of Hans Krieger for mezzo-soprano, alto flute, cello and piano,[5] was premiered at the Gasteig in 2010 by Martina Koppelstetter, Jens Josef, the composer and Christopher White.[6] In a concert The Proud Bassoon in Wigmore Hall, celebrating his father on 16 April 2011, he performed as a cellist, and two works he had written in memory of his father, Epitaphium and Bright Angel, received their premiere in the UK.[7][8] In a concert concluding the Gasteig's Liszt Festival to honour the 200th birthday of Franz Liszt, his chamber music scored for piano solo up to piano and string quartet appeared in the context of pieces in similar settings by Liszt.[9] In 2011, he composed a Christmas cantata on a text by Krieger.[10] In 2013 his piano trio Bells of Beyond was premiered at the Gasteig with Yury Revich and Valentina Babor.[11] Incantations, a Concerto da camera for piano and ensemble, was premiered and recorded in Birmingham on 26 March 2015 at the CBSO Centre with Huw Watkins, piano, and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Richard Baker.

The compositions reflect the individual capacity and character of players and instruments from piccolo to contrabassoon, even unusual ones such as the heckelphone or didgeridoo. He scored Chieftain's Salute for Great Highland Bagpipe and string orchestra, Hale Bopp, inspired by comet Hale–Bopp, for string orchestra with boy soprano, and The Akond of Swat (after a nonsense-poem by Edward Lear) for a tenor bassoon made to order for the performer Richard Moore, bassoon, and piano.[12]

He also wrote several compositions for cello and speaking voice, based on literature as diverse as limerick (Vezza), ballad (Der Handschuh) and drama (Das Hexen-Einmaleins), which he plays and recites himself.

He has lectured on contemporary music at the yearly Komponisten-Colloquium of the University of Oldenburg, initiated by Violeta Dinescu.[13]

Several of his pieces have been composed for the competition Jugend musiziert and performed at the prize winners' concerts.

The first publisher of his works was the Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag, beginning with Aztec Ceremonies and Three Pieces for Solo Cello in 1996. His music appeared also with Zimmermann and Robert Lienau in Frankfurt, Heinrichshofen in Wilhelmshaven, and others.

His music has been recorded, notably on Portrait (2001) with works for piano, clarinet and cello, and Portrait 2 (2004) with music for string orchestra, played by the English Chamber Orchestra, and for wind ensemble, played by Endymion.[14][15]


The 50th birthday of the composer has been celebrated with concerts dedicated to his works in London, Munich and Frankfurt, with performances of chamber music by members of the Munich Philharmonic. Peter Grahame Woolf wrote about the Graham Waterhouse Portrait Concert at Highgate School on 9 October 2012, focussing on the string quartet Prophetiae Sibyllarum and Rhapsodie Macabre. A review in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of the concert at the Gasteig on 4 November 2012 was titled "Hochexpressiv" (Highly expressive) and covered additionally Praeludium, Bassoon Quintet and Piccolo Quintet. Reinhard Palmer wrote in the magazine Neue Musikzeitung about the Konzert in Munich under the title "Beliebter Außenseiter" (Popular outsider), comparing the quintets to concertos, noting the influence of Karol Szymanowsky and Witold Lutoslawski and the qualities of musical story-telling.[16] The broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk aired an interview on his birthday.[17]

Selected works


Single works


  1. "Uraufführungen" (PDF) (in German). Via Nova. 11 November 2008. p. 1. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  2. "Concert Tour Book, Reviews" (in German). Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  3. "Komponisten-Matinee" (in German). Gasteig. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
  4. "Konzertante Musik für Flöte – Violoncello – Klavier, gespielt von drei Komponisten" (in German). Gasteig. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  5. "Im Gebirg". Graham Waterhouse. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  6. "Komponisten-Matinee: Graham Waterhouse" (in German). Gasteig. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  7. Breckenfield, Nick (18 April 2010). "William Waterhouse Memorial Concert at Wigmore Hall". Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  8. "William Waterhouse Celebration / The Proud Bassoon" (PDF). Park Lane Group. 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  9. "Hommage à Liszt". Gasteig. 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  10. "Der Anfang einer neuen Zeit" (in German). Graham Waterhouse. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  11. "Graham Waterhouse – "Trio und Solo"" (in German). Gasteig. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  12. "Works". Retrieved 18 August 2009. "The Akond of Swat" takes its title from the well-known poem from the "Book of Nonsense Poetry" (1877) by the Victorian Poet, Edward Lear ... The Tenor Bassoon was made to order by Guntram Wolf for Richard Moore and makes its very first appearance as a concertante chamber-music instrument in this piece.
  13. "Komponisten-Colloquien" (in German). University of Oldenburg. 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  14. 1 2 Culot, Hubert (2004). "Graham Waterhouse / Portrait". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  15. March, Ivan (2004). "Portrait 2". Gramophone. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  16. Palmer, Reinhard (14 November 2012). "Beliebter Außenseiter: der Cellist und Komponist Graham Waterhouse feierte seinen 50. Geburtstag" (in German). Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  17. "hr2 – Das aktuelle Kulturgespräch / Zu Gast: Graham Waterhouse, Komponist" (in German). Hessischer Rundfunk. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  18. "Graham Waterhouse, Piano Album: Acht Klavierstücke". Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  19. Cox, Jefferey (2000). "Twentieth Century Bassoon Concertos" (PDF). The Double Reed. International Double Reed Society. Retrieved 13 August 2009. Since then, Jefferey has tried to promote interest in the bassoon and in that cause commissioned a suite of pieces for bassoon and piano, collectively entitled "Diplo-Diversions", from Graham Waterhouse. This was published in 1997 by Hofmeister Verlag and premiered by Bill and Graham Waterhouse at the IDRS Congress in Tempe, Arizona, in summer 1998.
  20. "Graham Waterhouse, Threnody". Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  21. "Graham Waterhouse, Handschuh & Hexen-Einmaleins". Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  22. "Portrait Graham Waterhouse / Graham Waterhouse, Markus Schön, Michael Wendeberg, Agnès Marc". Retrieved 2012-09-11.
  23. "Graham Waterhouse: Kammermusik" (in German). Retrieved 14 August 2009.

External links

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