Professor Rhian Samuel

Professor Emeritus, City University, London. Composition tutor, Magdalen College.

B.A, B.Mus. (Reading), MA, PhD (Washington University, St Louis, USA).


Composer. Twentieth and twenty-first century music. Women composers. The operas of Harrison Birtwistle. Composition and performance. Music and text.


After her undergraduate training in Britain, Rhian Samuel spent 16 years in the United States, completing a PhD in 16th-century musica ficta at Washington University, St Louis, and then teaching Theory and Composition at the St Louis Conservatory. On her return to Britain in 1984, she taught at Reading University, becoming Head of the Music Department in 1993; she  moved to City University, London, in 1995 (Professor, 1999; Professor Emeritus, 2007). She co-edited the Norton/New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1994). In 2006, she received the Glyndŵr Award from The Tabernacl Trust for her contribution to the Arts in Wales. She now teaches composition at Magdalen College.


Elegy-Symphony was premiered by the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor, in 1981; later commissioned works for large orchestra include Tirluniau/ Landscapes (BBCNOW, BBC Proms, 2000) and Dawnsiau’r Nant/Dances of the Stream (BBCNOW, 2001). Works for chamber orchestra include The Path through the Woods (2011, recorder and strings) and Daughters’ Letters (1996, soprano, strings and percussion).  Rhian Samuel has also composed much vocal, choral and solo instrumental music.  A CD devoted to her chamber music, ‘Light and Water’, has been issued Deux-Elles (DX 1128).


Over 100 of Rhian Samuel’s scores are published by Stainer & Bell; others are published by Novello, Cadenza, ABRSM, Curiad, Andresier and Simrock.

Commercial CDs appear on the Deux-Elles, Sanctuary, Creighton-Griffiths, Metronome, Dutton-Vocalion, Capstone (USA), Mavron Quartet and VivacePress (USA) labels. Two further CDs are about to be issued on Stone Records.

Writings include several articles on Birtwistle’s operas, including programme essays for the Royal Opera House on The Minotaur and Gawain, and diaries chronicling the creation of the premieres of both works for the Cambridge Opera Journal; also the preface (‘Women’s Music: A Twentieth-Century Perspective’) and many articles in the Norton/New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1994).


Recent commissions have been funded, in whole or part, by the PRS for Music Fund, Britten-Pears Foundation, RVW Trust, Arts Council of Wales and UNESCO.