Dr Richard Whalley

Senior Lecturer in Musical Composition

Full contact details
View graph of relations


Richard Whalley is a composer and pianist living in Manchester, where he is a Senior Lecturer in Composition at the University of Manchester. His compositions are noted for their combination of timbral and textural exploration, their varied approach to line and for their formal innovation. Many are inspired by extra-musical sources, including the physicality of paintings and sculptures, the evocation of time and memory in literature, and increasingly in finding musical analogies for geological processes, and for the shapes found in nature. 

He was a finalist in the 1992 BBC Young Musician of the Year Composers’ Award and the 2001 Gaudeamus International Composers Award with Elegy (for chamber ensemble), and a featured composer in Ensemble Aleph’s Second Forum for Composers in 2002/3, for whom he wrote Twisted Variations. In 2009 Five Preludes was the winning composition in the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2009. Interlocking Melodies for string quartet was selected for performance in the 2012 ISCM World Music Days in Flanders, and in 2015 he was commissioned (as a finalist in the Feeding Music Competition) to write Wonderland for Divertimento Ensemble for performance during Milan Expo 2015. In 2016, Misplaced Time Refound for solo flute was shortlisted for a BASCA British Composer Award.

His music has been performed in the US and throughout Europe by numerous outstanding soloists and ensembles. Soloists who have performed his music include Caroline Balding, Richard Casey, Oliver Coates, Marc Danel, Paul Carey Jones, Gavin Osborn and John Turner. Ensembles include the Hilliard Ensemble, Psappha, Ensemble Aleph, the Quatuor Danel, Dinosaur Annex, Trio Atem, Divertimento Ensemble, Ensemble 10:10, the Ebonit Saxophone Quartet and the London Symphony Orchestra. He is also involved in an ongoing collaboration with the Yve Poprawski Dance School in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. A number of his works are commercially recorded, including a solo CD his music, ‘A Feast for the Senses’, released in 2012.

As a pianist he has built a repertoire extending from Bach and Beethoven to numerous contemporary composers. He has premiered a number of his own works for piano, as well as those by other composers including Camden Reeves, Kevin Malone, Tom Coult and Peter Swinnen. As well as playing solo, he regularly performs with various soloists including Helen Tonge (violin), Marc Danel (violin), Eric Robberecht (violin) and Guy Danel (cello), and he has also been fortunate to perform periodically with the Quatuor Danel. His piano teachers were Kate Elmitt whilst growing up in Hertfordshire, then Karen Evans whilst a student at the University of York.

Richard was born in 1974, and studied composition with Roger Marsh and Nicola Lefanu at University of York as an undergraduate, and with Mario Davidovsky and Joshua Fineberg at Harvard University for his PhD. As well as teaching at the University of Manchester, he teaches every August on the composition masterclass at the ARAM-Poitou Summer School in France, where he is a regular contributor, as composer and performer to the Concerts en nos Villages series in the Poitou region of France. His scores are published by Composers Edition at http://composersedition.com/ and you can find information about CD recordings of his music at http://www.richardwhalley.com/

Further information

More information about Richard's music can be found at:


Scores can be ordered from:


A selection of recordings can be heard at:


External positions

External Examiner for Professional Doctorate in Creative Arts, University of Central Lancashire

1 Oct 201730 Sep 2021

BBC Young Musician of the Year Adjudication, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Head Office

30 Sep 20134 Oct 2013

Teaching on Composition Masterclass, ARAM-Poitou

9 Aug 2010 → …

Areas of expertise

  • M Music - Composition, Performance, Contemporary Music, Composition Techniques, Extended Instrumental Techiques, Orchestration, Contemporary Music Performance, Piano, Contemporary Composers, Modernism, Spectralism, Experimental Music

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2004 - Doctor of Philosophy, Portfolio of Compositions, Harvard University
  • Master of Music, Portfolio of Compositions, University of York
  • Bachelor of Music, Degree in Music, University of York

Related information


Research output: Non-textual formComposition

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

View all (18)

Student Theses

UoM administered thesis: Phd

UoM administered thesis: Phd

View all (11)