John Pickard

John Pickard was born on 11 September, 1963 and started to compose at an early age. He read for his B.Mus. degree at the University of Wales, Bangor, where his composition teacher was William Mathias. Between 1984 and 1985 he studied with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Netherlands on a Dutch Ministry of Culture Scholarship. He was awarded a PhD in composition in 1989 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Bristol, where has worked since 1993.

John Pickard is best known for a series of powerful orchestral and instrumental works. He has written four symphonies (No. 2 premièred by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in 1989; No. 3, a BBC commission for BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Mark Wigglesworth, premièred in 1997), and other orchestral works of symphonic dimensions:
Sea-Change (1989), The Flight of Icarus (1990), Channel Firing (1992-93) and the Trombone Concerto: The Spindle of Necessity (1997-98). The Flight of Icarus (a BBC commission), received its first performance in 1991 by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, was repeated by them at the 1996 BBC Proms and has since been played many times, both in Britain and abroad.

Recent major works include, a Piano Concerto, premièred in Dresden in 2000, a large-scale song-cycle for baritone and piano:
The Borders of Sleep (2001) and the hour-long Gaia Symphony (1991-2003) for brass band. John Pickard’s commitment to the brass band movement was marked in 2001, when he was appointed Composer in Residence to the renowned “Buy as you View” Cory Band, a position he held until 2004. In 2005 he was commissioned to compose the test piece for the finals of the 2005 National Brass Band Championship, held at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

John Pickard’s music has been widely praised for its large-scale architectural sense and bold handling of an extended tonal idiom. His four string quartets (1991, 1993, 1994, 1998), have received particular acclaim. Reviewing the première of the Fourth Quartet in June 1998,
The Strad called it “one of the best pieces of British chamber music to be heard for years” while the January 2003 edition of Tempo, reviewing the Sorrel Quartet’s CD of Quartets 2, 3 & 4 (Dutton Epoch CDLX 71117), said “even if Pickard were never to write another quartet in his life, his place among the greats is secure”. His orchestral music has also received critical praise. The U.S. première in 2006 of The Flight of Icarus by the San Francisco Symphony was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as ‘a translucent and achingly lovely memorial to the fallen Icarus’ and ‘a serious contender for the most exciting musical premiere of 2006.’

In addition to his compositional activities, John is General Editor of the Elgar Complete Edition.

John Pickard’s music is handled exclusively by Bardic Edition and details and availability of material and published scores can be obtained by contacting the publisher or their agents at the addresses given below.


1982    Sol Oriens 15'00" Organ & Orchestra*
1983    Nocturne in Black and Gold 7'00" Flute/Clarinet/Violin/Cello/Harpsichord (Piano)*
1983    Ozymandias 8'00" 10-part choir a cappella [BD 0759]
1983    Sun 10'00" Organ
1983-4 Symphony No. 1 30'00" Full Orchestra*
1984    Serenata Concertata 23'00" Solo Flute/Clarinet/Cello/Double Bass/ Piano/2nd Flute*
1985-7 Symphony No. 2 Full Orchestra*
1987    Piano Sonata 30'00" Piano [BD 0144] (Divine Art CD 24111
1983-7 Three Latin Motets 10'00"
            O Nata Lux  SATB a cappella/Te Lucis Ante Terminum SSAA a cappella/Uni Caritas Amor SATB a cappella [BD 0199a-c]
1987    Paraphrase on 'The Duke of Marlborough' 6'00" Piano [BD 0787]
1988    A Madrigal for Thomas Morley 2 Trumpets/Horn/Trombone [BD 0442-1]
1989    Sea-Change 18'00" Full Orchestra*
1990    Piano Trio 15'00" Violin/Cello/Piano [BD 0788] [CD recording forthcoming]
1990    The Flight of Icarus ca. 19'00" Full Orchestra*
1990    Wildfire 12'00" Brass Band [CD recording available on Doyen Recordings CD DOY144
1991    Inscape 8'00" Guitar [BD 0311]
1991    String Quartet No. 1 37'00"
1992    The Phoenix 15'00" Soprano & Piano [BD 0316]
1992    Ave Maris Stella 7'00" SATB a cappella [BD 0305]
1992    The Phagotus of Afranio ca. 9'00" Bassoon & Piano [BD 0538]
1993    Channel Firing 27'00" Full Orchestra*
1993    String Quartet No. 2 c. 15'00" [CD recording available on Dutton Laboratories CD EPOCH CDLX 7117]
1993    Partita c. 25'00" String Orchestra*
1994    String Quartet No. 3 ca. 20'00" [CD recording available on Dutton Laboratories CD EPOCH CDLX 7117]
1995    A Starlit Dome c. 13'00" Piano [BD 0613] (Divine Art CD 24111)
1994-5 Sonata 27'00" for Violoncello & Piano [withdrawn]
1995    ‘Men of Stone’ - Symphonic Suite ca. 15'00" Brass Band [CD recording available on Kirklees Music CD KRCD1034]
1995-6 Symphony No. 3 c. 37'00" Full Orchestra*
1997    Insomnia c. 10'00" Violin & Piano
1997    Chaconne c. 7'00" Viola solo
1998    String Quartet No. 4 c. 28'00" [CD recording available on Dutton Laboratories CD EPOCH CDLX 7117]
1998    Trombone Concerto ‘The Spindle of Necessity’ c. 22'00" Trombone, Strings & Percussion*
1998    A Better Time Than Ours - Carol ca. 10'00" mixed voices a cappella
1999    Piano Concerto c. 30'00" Piano and Orchestra*

2000    Valedictions 8'00" for Violoncello and Piano 
2001    The Borders of Sleep - Nine poems of Edward Thomas 35'00" for Baritone voice and piano
2001    Invocation for Brass Band 3'00" [CD recording available on Doyen Recordings CD DOY144]
2002    Tsunami ca. 13'00" for Brass Band (commissioned by the National Youth Brass Band of Wales for July 2002)
2002    Black Castles 10'00" for Brass Ensemble (10-part) (commissioned by brasspartout, Germany)
2003    Aurora 15'00" for Brass Band
1991-2004 Gaia Symphony ca. 65'00" for Brass Band†* more here
2004    Orion ca. 14'00" for Trumpet and Organ
2004    Sonata ca. 18'00" for Violin and Piano more here
Eden ca. 13'30" for Brass Band (The Brass Band Heritage Trust as the test piece for the Final of the 2005 Besson National Brass Band Championship)
2005-2007 Agamemnon’s Tomb (A Requiem) for Soprano, Tenor and Bass soloists, Chorus and Orchestra
2007    Songs of Rain and Sea for SSA Choir, Piano 4 hands (or Two Pianos) and Percussion
2008    Tenebrae for Orchestra
2009    Tesserae for Organ more here

2010    The Burning of the Leaves for Baritone voice and piano more here
2010    Snowbound for bass clarinet, cello and piano more here
2011    The Burning of the Leaves (version for baritone and orchestra)
2011    Concertante Variations (Presteigne Concerto) for Wind Quintet, Timpani and Strings


1992    A Bridal Lullaby (Percy Aldridge Grainger) 5'00" for Orchestra
1997    The Battle Song (Havergal Brian) 10'00" for Brass Band
1998    Toccata (Monteverdi from Orfeo) 2'00" for Orchestra
2002    Mazurka in A minor op. 17 No. 4 (Chopin) 5'00" for Brass Band
2007    Sospiri (Edward Elgar) for String Quartet


Recording News:

Following the successful release of their all-Pickard orchestral disc, a second disc will be recorded in the spring of 2010 by BIS Records. Once again, the performers will be the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins. The disc will feature Sea-Change, the Piano Concerto, with Fredrik Ullén as soloist, and a large-scale new work, Tenebrae, commissioned by the orchestra. The new piece will be premièred in March 2010.


How to obtain scores and parts

* = performance material available on hire (rental).

BD 0000 = a published score is available from all retail outlets. In case of difficulty please contact Customer Service.

BD XXXX = in preparation = score in the process of being published.

Scores marked neither on sale nor on hire may be available through the Repertoire Promotion Department.

Perusal scores and programme notes:

For further information please contact: Promotions Department - Mobile: 007977 393160 or Email:

Performing Rights:

Permission to perform a work in public (except in the case of divine worship) should normally be obtained from PRS for Music, 2 Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG.  Switchboard: 020 7580 5544; Fax: 020 3741 4455

In the case of stage works, application should be made to the publisher or its agents.  Outside the UK please contact the relevant hire or sales agent for advice.


2 George Street
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Until further notice you can contact us by phoning 07977 393160



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