Featured Composer: Julian Yu

Source: Australian Music Centre

Source: Australian Music Centre

Born in Beijing in 1957, Julian Yu settled in Australia in 1985. He studied composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, later joining the teaching staff there, and from 1980 to 1982 studied at the Tokyo College of Music with Joji Yuasa and Schin–ichiro Ikebe. In 1988 he was a Composition Fellow at Tanglewood where he studied with Hans Werner Henze and Oliver Knussen.

Important commissions include Ensemble Modern, the 2000 BBC Proms, and the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In 2011 he was Theme Composer at the Suntory Hall Summer Festival in Tokyo, where his specially commissioned work For Our Natural World was performed along with many other of his works in two dedicated concerts.

Awards for composition include the 1988 Koussevitzky Tanglewood Composition Prize; the inaugural and consecutive Paul Lowin Orchestral Prizes of 1991 and 1994; the 1992 Vienna Modern Masters Composition Award; awards in the International New Music Composers' Competitions of 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990; the 35th Premio Musicale Citta di Trieste, Italy 1988; the 56th Japan Music Concours 1987; the international Irino Prize Competition, Japan 1989; the International 'Piano 2000' Composition Competition, Japan; the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award 1988; the Jacobena Angliss Music Award 1989; the Adolf Spivakovsky Composition Prize 1993; the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellowship (USA) 1988; and an Australia Council Composer Fellowship in 1995.

His piano album The Young Person’s Guide to Composition: 126 Variations on ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ was published in Japan in 2010 and China in 2011 where it has already reached its second print run.

His work, mostly for orchestra, is frequently performed in Australia and internationally. He currently teaches Composition at the University of Melbourne.

Julian Yu's piece, Classical Stories, was premiered in PLEXUS: Spotlight on 24 November 2014 at the Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre.

Classical Stories (2014)

This is a collection of humorous pieces which incorporate classical material in a variety of ways, including quotation, collage, parody and pastiche ....

It includes eight short movements:

    I.    Two Swans Under Two Moons - The swans of Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saëns bask in the moonlight of Beethoven and Debussy.

    II.    Compound Tragedy - What could be more tragic than a meeting between Tristan, Isolde, Romeo, Juliet and the Butterfly Lovers?

    III.    A Phonecall to Mozart - Nokia’s ringtone interrupts Mozart while he is trying to compose his Piano Sonata in A Major.

    IV.     What for Elise? - The familiar wrapping paper contains unexpected presents from far and wide...

    V.     J.S. the Great - Bach’s own melodies woven together in Bach’s own way. No extra notes are added.

    VI.     To Comrade Shostakovich - An appreciation of his lighter side. The theme comes from a children’s song from his cantata Song of the Forest.

    VII.    Caterpoint - Prokofiev’s cat from Peter and the Wolf dances to a counter melody.

    VIII.     Brahmsody - A rhapsodic treatment of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor brings this collection a vigorous conclusion.

© Julian Yu 2014