Featured Composer: Jonathan Dreyfus


Jonathan Dreyfus composes music for film and television. Working from Melbourne, Australia, he has scored dozens of commercials and short films as well as six network television productions and two independent feature films.

His sound is centered on recording musicians instead of using samples. His scores capture the maximum amount of live performances possible before blending them with synthesised and ethnic instruments and unexpected production techniques to produce quirky and distinctive arrangements.

The son of film composer George Dreyfus and musicologist Kay, Jonathan’s background is in classical music history and violin. But despite his forte for traditional orchestral writing, he often explores more contemporary styles, all the while employing the same compositional techniques as his beloved classical role models.

Films he has scored have screened at Cannes, the Berlin and Melbourne Film Festivals and the Tropfest finals, and have been awarded Cannes Lions, Digital Emmies and various short film festival and advertising prizes. In 2013 Jonathan won Best Music for a Short Film at the peer-judged APRA/AGSC Screen Music Awards, having been nominated in the same category in 2012 and for Best Television Theme in 2010.

To hear a selection of Jonathan’s work, visit  www.jonathandreyfus.com

Jonathan Dreyfus' new work Half-formed thoughts was premiered in PLEXUS SQUARED: The Launch on 20 May 2015 at Deakin Edge, Federation Square.

Half-formed thoughts (2015)

If I were being analytical, I might write something like this:

Half-Formed Thoughts explores the emotional and aesthetic effects of incomplete and under-developed musical ideas. As enforceable boundaries around harmony and rhythm have basically disintegrated, I wanted to experiment with forgoing other precepts around development and form. While what emerged from this undertaking is a harmonically and rhythmically traditional composition, it transitions between ideas and sections without conscious regard for smoothness or continuity, creating unexpected and sometimes abrupt emotional shifts. Its trajectory is asymmetrical, comprising slow and fast movements of roughly equal lengths and vastly different tonal and formal characters. The first moment is impressionistic and nominally casts the instruments of the trio as different “characters,” while the second is a vehicle for expressive and synchronized ensemble playing. The roughly ternary form of the first movement and rondo form of the second pay no homage to any period or work, functioning simply to highlight sectional contrasts and unforeseen shifts. 

But if I’m being unpretentious, Plexus were incredibly kind and asked me to write them a piece. For this honour and opportunity, and for its performance, I’m profoundly and enduringly grateful. For my part, I tried my best to create something meaningful for me, satisfying for the performer, and at least tolerable for the audience.

– Jonathan Dreyfus