Michael Finnissy


Michael Peter Finnissy (born 17 March 1946) is an English composer and pianist. An immensely prolific composer, his music is "notable for its dramatic urgency and expressive immediacy".[1] He is often associated with the New Complexity movement, though he rejects the label.[1]


Finnissy was born in Tulse Hill, London.

Finnissy has taught at the Royal Academy of Music, the University of Sussex, and is professor of composition at the University of Southampton[1] and composer-in-residence at St. John's College, Cambridge. He won a competition to supply a violin solo test piece to the 1990 Carl Flesch International Violin Competition with Enek.[2]




Finnissy's works for the piano are notable for their extreme demands on technique. They include his 36 Verdi Transcriptions, written between 1972 and 2005.

Finnissy is concerned with the political aspects of music, and he believes that all music is 'programmatic' to some degree, that is, a composition exists in not just the composer's mind, but inside a culture that reflects both the extra-musical and purely musical concerns of the composer. Music, far from being unable to express anything other than itself (as Stravinsky said) is a force for change. This engagement with political and social themes became more frequent as his career progressed. For example, the influence of homosexual themes and concerns began to enter his work; as in Shameful Vice in 1994, and more explicitly in Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets in 1997.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Cross 2001.
  2. ^ Malcolm Miller (1992). "Old and New". The Musical Times. 133 (1789): 126. doi:10.2307/966427. JSTOR 966427.


  • Cross, Jonathan. 2001, "Finnissy, Michael (Peter)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan. Updated by Ian Pace, 26 May 2010, Grove Music Online, edited by Deane Root.


  • Arnone, Augustus. 2013/2014. "The Ear Is Not A Camera: The Divide Between Visual And Acoustic Perceptual Habits In Finnissy's The History of Photography in Sound". The Open Space Magazine 15/16: 251–268.
  • Barrett, Richard. 1995. "Michael Finnissy: An Overview". Contemporary Music Review 13, no. 1:23–43.
  • Bortz, Graziela. 2003. Rhythm in the Music of Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finnissy, and Arthur Kampela: A Guide for Performers. Ph.D. Thesis, City University of New York.
  • Brougham, Henrietta, Christopher Fox, and Ian Pace (eds.). 1997. Uncommon Ground: The Music of Michael Finnissy. Aldershot, Hants., and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 1-85928-356-X.
  • Pace, Ian. 1996. "The Panorama of Michael Finnissy: I". Tempo, no. 196 (1996), 25–35.
  • Pace, Ian. 1997. "The Panorama of Michael Finnissy: II". Tempo, no. 201 (1997), 7–16.
  • Steenhuisen, Paul. "Interview with Michael Finnissy". In Sonic Mosaics: Conversations with Composers. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-88864-474-9
  • Toop, Richard. 1988. "Four Facets of the 'New Complexity'". Contact, no. 32:4–50.

External linksEdit

  • Official website
  • Oxford University Press: Finnissy