Michael Nyman

Composer, Musician, Conductor
A prolific composer, Michael Nyman has created unique soundtracks for such features as "The Draughtsman's Contract" (1982), "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" (1991) and Jane Campion's "The Piano" (1993). The ... Read more »
Born: 03/22/1944 in London, England, GB

Filmography

Music (54)

Where Love Reigns 2014 (Movie)

(Composer)

White Elephant 2013 (Movie)

(Music)

The Trip 2011 (Movie)

(Music)

Genova 2008 (Movie)

(Composer)

Man on Wire 2008 (Movie)

(Music)

Man on Wire 2008 (Movie)

("History Of The Insipid") (Song)

Never Forever 2008 (Movie)

(Original Music)

Teresa: El Cuerpo De Cristo 2007 (Movie)

(Composer)

Nathalie... 2006 (Movie)

(Music)

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story 2006 (Movie)

("Sarabande") (Music Arranger)

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story 2006 (Movie)

("Chasing Sheep Is Best Left To Shepherds") (Composer)

I Am 2005 (Movie)

(Original Score)

The Libertine 2005 (Movie)

Music Producer (Song)

The Libertine 2005 (Movie)

(Composer)

The Libertine 2005 (Movie)

(Music Conductor)

The Claim 2000 (Movie)

score music performer (Performer)

The Claim 2000 (Movie)

(Music)

Wonderland 2000 (Movie)

music composer (Composer)

Wonderland 2000 (Movie)

(Music Producer)

Ravenous 1999 (Movie)

(Original Music)

Ravenous 1999 (Movie)

score conductor (Music Conductor)

Ravenous 1999 (Movie)

music composer/performer (Music)

The End of the Affair 1999 (Movie)

music composer & conductor (Music)

The Ogre 1998 (Movie)

(Music)

Gattaca 1997 (Movie)

music composer and conductor (Music)

Carrington 1995 (Movie)

(Music)

Six Days, Six Nights 1994 (Movie)

(Music Producer)

Six Days, Six Nights 1994 (Movie)

(Music)

The Piano 1993 (Movie)

conductor (Music Conductor)

The Piano 1993 (Movie)

(Music)

The Hairdresser's Husband 1992 (Movie)

(Music)

Drowning By Numbers 1991 (Movie)

(Music)

Prospero's Books 1991 (Movie)

(Music)

A Walk Through H 1990 (Movie)

harmonium player (Music)

Les Enfants Volants 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

Monsieur Hire 1990 (Movie)

("Quartet Number 1 in G Minor Opus 25") (Performer)

Monsieur Hire 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

Vertical Features Remake 1990 (Movie)

(Music)

A Zed and Two Noughts 1988 (Movie)

(Music)

A Zed and Two Noughts 1988 (Movie)

(Performer)

Death in the Seine 1988 (Movie)

(Music)

Le Miracule 1987 (Movie)

(Music)

Nelly's Version 1982 (Movie)

(Music)

Brimstone and Treacle 1981 (Movie)

(Music)

The Draughtsman's Contract 1981 (Movie)

(Performer)

The Falls 1979 (Movie)

(Music)

Keep It Up Downstairs 1975 (Movie)

songs (Song)

Keep It Up Downstairs 1975 (Movie)

(Music Arranger)

Keep It Up Downstairs 1975 (Movie)

(Music)

Fairly Secret Army (TV Show)

Music

The Cold Room (TV Show)

Music
Camera, Film, & Tape (1)

The Falls 1979 (Movie)

stills (Photography)
Other (4)

Drowning By Numbers 1991 (Movie)

pianist (Other)

A Walk Through H 1990 (Movie)

pianist (Other)

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover 1990 (Movie)

pianist (Other)

Modern American Composers I 1983 (Movie)

(music) (Technical Advisor)

Biography

A prolific composer, Michael Nyman has created unique soundtracks for such features as "The Draughtsman's Contract" (1982), "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" (1991) and Jane Campion's "The Piano" (1993). The London-born Nyman studied at the Royal Academy of Music and King's College in the early 1960s. He worked variously as a music critic, lecturer, writer and performer, gradually receiving small composing commissions. In 1977, he formed his own permanent performing ensemble, The Michael Nyman Band. He has composed for a wide range of international media and artists.

As a film composer, Nyman has worked extensively with director Peter Greenaway, beginning with their first collaboration on the experimental short "A Walk Through H" (1973). Subsequent collaborations followed on documentaries ("The Falls" 1980, "Modern American Composers I" 1984), experimental films ("Verical Feaures Remake" 1978, "A Zed and Two Noughts" 1985, "Death in the Seine" 1989), and features ("The Draughtman's Contract", "Drowning By Numbers" 1988, "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" and "Prospero's Books" 1989). Nyman has stated that he enjoyed the almost unprecedented freedom allowed him by Greenaway. He composed long sequences of music to which the director would edit the film. For "The Draughtsman's Contract", Nyman adapted and transposed baroque compositions by Henry Purcell, creating an abrasive, modern, minimalist score. He reportedly was angry about the use of his compositions in "Prospero's Books" and severed his ties with Greenaway. ("The relationship is quiescent," Nyman told Rob Ryan in GQ magazine.)

Besides doing the occasional soundtrack for a TV-movie ("The Cold Room", HBO 1984), he collaborated with Sting on the music for Richard Loncraine's "Brimstone and Treacle" (1982), and composed the score for the operatic adaptation of Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", which director Christopher Rawlence filmed in 1988. Nyman wrote soundtracks for French director Patrice Leconte's thriller "Monsieur Hire" (1989) and his romance "The Hairdresser's Husband" (1990).

Director Jane Campion commissioned Nyman to write the score for "The Piano" (1993), which the composer found challenging. Not only did he need to provide thematic cues for the audience, he also had to provide a voice for the mute leading character Ada (Holly Hunter) who "speaks" when she plays her piano. Nyman used popular Scottish songs as the basis for his compositions which were tailored to Hunter's performing abilities and to the repertoire of the 19th Century. Because the actress played the work in a softer style than Nyman's, he has claimed that Hunter "discovered all the life and passion beneath the surface of the music." Although the film's music was integral to its success, its score was overlooked for Oscar consideration.

Nyman has also provided the haunting score for Diane Kurys' dark drama about twisted sybling rivalry, "Six Days, Six Nights", and the biopic "Mesmer" (both 1994). Christopher Hampton chose him to create the soundtrack for "Carrington" (1995), which was adapted from themes form Nyman's String Quartet No. 3. (In fact, Hampton had used this and other Nyman compositions on a rough cut of the film.) Although he does not consider himself to be primarily a film composer, Nyman has continued to work in that medium. He has scored Volker Schlondorff's "The Ogre" and provided a forty minute symphony for Jane Campion's "Portrait of a Lady" (both 1996).

Relationships

Aet Toome

Wife
married on May 16, 1970

EDUCATION

King's College, University of Cambridge

1964 - 1967
studied with Thurston Dart

Royal Academy of Music

1961 - 1965
(Music)

Conservatoire and Folklore Institute

1965 - 1966

Milestones

2001

Feature directorial debut, an adaptation of his opera "Facing Goya"

1982

Collaborated with Sting on the music for Richard Loncraine's film, "Brimstone and Treacle"

1982

First collaboration on a feature with director Peter Greenaway, "The Draughtsman's Contract"

1980

First collaboration on a documentary with Peter Greenaway, "The Falls"

1976

First score for a feature, "Keep It Downstairs"

1976

Wrote music for Bill Bryden's production of Goldini's "Il Campiello" and formed the Campielo Band which later became the Michael Nyman Band

1974

Wrote book "Experimental Music--Cage and Beyond"

1973

Debut as movie composer and first of numerous collaborations with director Peter Greenaway on an experimental short, "A Walk Through H"

1968

Spent a decade as music critic for The Spectator, New Statesman, The Listener, Tempo, Music and Musicians, and Daily Telegraph

Was college lecturer at several London-area colleges

Editor of baroque music and new music for Universal Edition

Born and raised in London

During the 1970s performed with The Scratch Orchestra (with Brian Eno) in the Portsmouth Sinfonia, and with Steve Reich and Musicians

Bonus Trivia

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Not to be confused with the publicist of the same name.

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There is a Web site devoted to him at http://www.michaelnyman.org/

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"I always say to people, if you want to hear the full score, what I was asked to write, the cues and durations, listen to the sound-track album. That, for me, is the reality." --Nyman quoted in "The Score Keeper" in GQ, October 1995

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"I'm interested in contradictions and building up expectations that you shatter and collapse." --Nyman in USA TODAY, November 14, 1995

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