Professor Robert Saxton

Professor of Composition; Fellow and Tutor, Worcester College

MA (Cantab), BMus, DMus (Oxon), FGSM


Composer. Research interests include large-scale harmonic/structural issues in music from the late-18th to the late-20th centuries, and the relationship between tradition and contemporary compositional thought and practice.


After early encouragement and advice from Benjamin Britten, studied with Elisabeth Lutyens, then at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge with Drs Peter le Huray and Robin Holloway (1972-75). Post-graduate student (B.Mus), Worcester College Oxford with Dr Robert Sherlaw Johnson (1976). Lessons with Luciano Berio (1976-78)

1st Prize for Composition, Gaudeamus festival, Holland (1975)
Fulbright Award to USA, visiting fellow Princeton (1985-86)

Lecturer, Bristol University (1984-85)
Head of Composition, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London (1991-98)
Head of Composition and Contemporary Music, Royal Academy of Music, London (1998-99)
University Lecturer and Fellow and Tutor in Music, Worcester College, Oxford (1999-present)

‘Outreach’ education projects for: London Sinfonietta (UK, Norway, Japan), Glyndebourne and Leeds Festival

Member of Board of Directors, South Bank Centre, London (1998-2007)
Patron, Association of English Speakers and Singers
Patron, Bristol University Music Society
Director, University of York Music Press


Works written for: BBC (Proms, Radio and TV), LPO, LSO, English Chamber Orchestra, St Paul Chamber Orchestra Minnesota USA, Northern Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, Opera North, Fires of London, Nash Ensemble, Chilingirian String Quartet, choirs of St Pauls Cathedral London and Christ Church Oxford, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Lichfield and Three Choirs Festivals and for Teresa Cahill, Leon Fleisher, Steven Isserlis, Mstislav Rostropovich, Paul Silverthorne, John Wallace, Raphael Wallfisch, the Clerks’ Group and ABRSM.


The Wandering Jew (radio opera) commissioned by BBC Radio 3, premiered by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers in 2010, broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Performance on 3’, and released on NMC recordings in 2011

Quartet No. 3 commissioned by the Southbank Centre, premiered by the Arditti Quartet in 2011, with a further performance at the Sounds New Festival in May 2012, recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Hear and Now’

Time and the Seasons 2007-12 (baritone and piano) to own texts

Scenes from Shakespeare, a Trumpet Concerto commissioned by Simon Desbruslais and the Orchestra of the Swan, premiere June 2013; ‘Time and the Seasons’, a Song Cycle commissioned by the Oxford Lieder Festival for Roderick Williams (baritone) and Andrew West (piano), premiere 16 October 2013 at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford; new Piano Cycle for pianist Clare Hammond.

Hortus Musicae  2013-15 (solo piano, books 1 and 2) recorded by Clare Hammond on Toccata label

The Legend of King Herla 2015 (flute and harp)

Passacaglia for organ on the name John McCabe 2015 (organ)

The Resurrection of the Soldiers 2016 (string orchestra)

String Quartet no 4 2017-18

Agnus Dei [ in the style of Mozart] for Mozart’s Requiem (commissioned for TV)

Suite for violin and piano 2018 (to be recorded on the Divine Art label, January 2020, by Madeleine Mitchell and Clare Hammond)

Paraphrase on Adeste Fideles 2019 (for piano duet)


Scenes from the Epic of Gilgamesh (commissioned for the English Symphony Orchestra)

A Hymn to the Thames (commissioned by James Turnbull and the St Paul’s Sinfonia)

Organ cycle (for Dr Jonathan Clinch)

String Quartet No 5 (commissioned by the Fidelio Piano Trio)


All compositions published by: Chester Music/Music Music Sales 1972-98 and University of York Music Press 1998-present

Commercial recordings: EMI, Sony Classical, NMC, Hyperion, Metier, Cala, Collins Classics, Lammas.

Contemporary British Composers in their own words. co-editor with Dr Paul Archbold ( Ashgate 2007)

The process of composition from detection to confection (Composition, Performance, Reception ed Wyhdham Thomas Ashgate 1998)

The orchestral composer (The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra ed Colin Lawson CUP 2003)

Cycles and Circles; the sacred in my music (Composing music for worship ed Darlington and Kreider Canterbury Press 2003)